Career spotlight: High-tech instructional coordinators

Instructional Technology Coordinator

Hand an iPad to a kid, and you'll get a lot of things -- namely self-portraits, high scores in Fruit Ninja, and mistaken texts to your boss -- but education might not be the natural outcome. Instructional coordinators, long valued for their organizational skills and knowledge of teaching methods and curriculum, are being called on to implement technology in the classroom. It's a daunting task, but it may mean job security for some trained coordinators and better resources for students.


Instructional coordinators blend education with technology

While some schools -- particularly colleges and universities -- might employ a specialized edu-tech coordinator in addition to the general instructional coordinator, smaller schools and school districts may combine high-tech implementation with education coordination. Instructional coordinators might be hired with a bachelor's degree in curriculum and instruction or a related field, as opposed to master's degrees and higher often required for education administration positions. The job requires a particular blend of technical knowledge and passion for learning.

Developmental education coordinators turn to high-tech options

Higher education is making strong headway into online schooling, and one of the big surprises is the leaps schools are taking in developmental education for students who are falling behind in classes. The New York Times recently reported that nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States arrive on campus needing remedial coursework before they can begin earning credits. As a result, schools are turning to edu-tech -- specifically, massive open online courses, known as MOOCs, to catch students up.

Udacity, a company which has offered free college courses online since February 2012, is seeing particular success coordinating developmental programs. Through Udacity, college instruction is available to anyone with an Internet connection. Colleges and universities expand on the model by offering basic coursework at reasonable rates for credit.

On the instructional coordinator side of things, the process is incredibly streamlined. "We gave them lecture notes and a textbook, and they 'Udacified' things, and wrote the script, which we edited," Susan McClory, San Jose State's developmental math coordinator, told The New York Times. "We made sure they used our way of finding a common denominator."

Instructional coordinators see big success with blended learning

One reason why blended learning is such a growing phenomenon is its impressive success. At San Jose State, 91 percent of students in the blended online/traditional section of a difficult circuits course passed the class, compared with only 59 percent in the traditional model. "We're engineers, and we check our results, but if this semester is similar, we will not have the traditional version next year," Khosrow Ghadiri, who teaches the blended class, told The New York Times. "It would be educational malpractice."

Those are strong words for any professor to utter, and it should serve as a clarion call for instructional coordinators. Opportunities in the field are expected to grow at the rate of 20 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that Utah, Texas and Georgia are expected to see strong job growth in the field. For example, Utah job opportunities are expected to rise 33 percent between 2010 and 2020. School budgets will always factor into hiring decisions, but with high-tech course implementation saving student enrollment at many schools, smart money is on IT-specialist instructional coordinators seeing job growth and security for years to come.

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