Technology on college campuses is almost as ubiquitous as that of a lined notebook. A survey from Pearson Education found that 82 percent of students, educators and administrators in higher education said they believe digital courseware and materials were the future, but only 56 percent were using them in at least half their courses.
One possible reason for the disparity? A lack of professional development and training for educators when it comes to digital tools. Georgetown University is looking to remedy that with their newly announced Master of Arts in Learning Design.
Eddie Maloney, the executive director of the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS), which will house the program, talked to EdTech: Focus on Higher Education about the importance of harnessing emerging technologies in education.
EDTECH: Why was this program important to develop?
MALONEY: In the last 15 to 20 years, technology has established its role in universities, but its relationship to instructional design and pedagogy has been evolving and growing.
At CNDLS, we’ve always seen ourselves as an innovation space, just as well as a support space. We’re always thinking about what comes next and where we are going. This program is really about trying to help create the people that centers like ours need to hire. There are a lot of schools searching for people versed in ed tech and there aren’t a lot of schools who are training them.
We’re trying to build out something that brings together functional with the academic.
EDTECH: What makes Georgetown’s program unique from the similar programs that exist at Stanford and Purdue University?
MALONEY: These are great programs. Many schools of education, however, are training teachers for K–12 with instructional design programs, from that perspective. We’re not training for everything. We’re focusing on the uniqueness of higher education.
We’re also not in a school of education. We are coming at this slightly from the side. The work of CNDLS is intimately connected to this grad program. The faculty in my center will be teaching in the program. We’ll have this kind of dynamic where it is actually evolving from practitioners who are doing work and research in higher ed. It’s like if a School of Library Information were to actually run the library.
There are also very few programs that intersect education, technology, design and analytics. This program will have four tracks. Launching next fall will be a track in learning design and a track in technology and innovation. In fall 2018, we’ll have a track in learning analytics. Finally, in fall of 2019, we’ll have a track for higher ed leadership and policy, which will think about how those other three tracks will influence the policy and change at universities.
EDTECH: How will the program use technology?
MALONEY: It will cover the range of what you expect in technology of higher education. Looking at the enterprise-level tools that schools are using now, like Blackboard, Canvas and Echo360, and getting people comfortable with thinking about using those intentionally and creatively.
We’ll also use tools that are new or unique, such as social annotation tools, and we’ll help students become familiar with media production and development tools. CNDLS is at the edge of technology, design and analytics. It’s not about trying to prognosticate what’s coming next, but rather helping students be responsive and agile to whatever comes next.
EDTECH: What do you hope that students will take away from this program?
MALONEY: We’re trying to situate ourselves in a growing field. We’re getting not just students in the program, but designers who are part of creating a new program.
We’re not just trying to create an instructional designer, we’re trying to help someone think about his or her role in shaping what higher education is. We want students to be able to think they are coming here to help faculty create a program that is meaningful in the world.