7 Reasons Your Institution Needs a Dedicated Instructional Technologist
If you're thinking that building technology into your curriculum is so complex that it could be a full-time job, you're right! That's what an Instructional Technologist does, and these dedicated professionals are more critical than ever to the overall success of schools and other educational institutions. According to the data from Schoology's 2018 Global State of Digital Learning Report, nearly 70 percent of responding institutions have a dedicated instructional technologist.
Instructional technologists began to appear in higher education in the 1990s, as colleges and universities realized that they needed to boost their technological offerings as the internet rapidly changed the landscape for communication, information storage, and eventually delivery of instruction.
Suddenly there was a need for hardware, software, and connectivity everywhere, and administrators recognized that individual instructors didn't have the time or the expertise to research and implement solutions. The same was true for K-12 schools, and soon instructional technologists were an integral part of the educational landscape at all levels.
What an Instructional Technologist Does
- Identifying appropriate hardware and software for students and instructors
- Collaborating on curriculum design
- Gathering data about current technology usage
- Evaluating the success of current technology programs
- Training staff to use new hardware and software
- Teaching students to use technology
- Setting up and maintaining networks and hardware
- Overseeing distance learning programs
- Educating the community about how to get the most out of technology
Why Your Institution Needs an Instructional Technologist
The short answer? It always makes sense to have an expert, and instructional technologists are the perfect blend of computer guru and savvy educator. More specifically, here are seven reasons why you should have a pro in this field on your side:
- Nobody Can Do It All: With ever-increasing demands on teachers' time, it's nearly impossible to expect they also have energy left for researching the right software for their classroom. An instructional technologist supports teachers by providing the right tech at the right time, freeing staff up to focus on individual students instead of troubleshooting screens.
- You Care About Differentiation: Instructional technologists offer tremendous support for students who need extra help, enrichment or a different way of absorbing new information. They are often in charge of finding the best tech products to help special education, ELL, and gifted children get what they need via individualized software programs.
- You're Committed to Professional Development: Your institution's education technology is only effective if staff is comfortable and competent in using it. Professional development and ongoing training are key, and a skilled instructional technologist is a valuable resource for delivering ongoing PD around technology.
- You Value Collaboration: Because they are also licensed teachers in their own right, instructional technologists are a great addition to teaching teams. They bring valuable insight to the table about all kinds of educational issues and can help brainstorm new lesson plans, design effective curriculum, and help solve a wide range of problems—technological or otherwise.
- Technology Is Constantly Evolving: If you're concerned about making the right choices when it comes to investing in technology, an instructional technologist is a major asset to your strategic planning. They're well-equipped to know not only what's available now, but also what developments are on the horizon. This expertise will give you confidence when it comes to developing new EdTech programs for your district.
- Distance Learning Is Here to Stay: Now that we have the ability to deliver high-quality instruction online, the demand for distance learning will increase at all levels. Instructional technologists are often distance learning experts that can help your district develop or improve this important asset.
- Digital Citizenship Is a Life Skill: When your instructional technologist teaches students directly, they learn more than just how to run a computer program. Digital citizenship is more important than ever, and good instructional technologists are passionate about building these skills into their curriculum. They can also help classroom teachers explore ways to integrate digital citizenship into everyday lessons.
If your institution already has an instructional technologist, excellent! Be sure to consider all the ways that they can help you to seamlessly integrate technology into your curriculum and help all staff feel good about their own tech skills. If you don't have a dedicated instructional technologist yet, the time is right for lobbying for this position. Educational technology is simply too important to leave to chance any longer.
Does your school or district have dedicated instructional technologists? Let us know on Twitter @Schoology