What Is Educational Technology?

careers with a masters in educational technology

Educational technology, or EdTech, is more than technology used in the classroom. It’s a combination of hardware, software, educational theory and instructional design principles to support and facilitate learning.

Today, advanced tools and technologies like interactive whiteboards, virtual reality and gamification are being integrated into instructional design, for both remote and in-person learning.

Benefits of Educational Technology

Software and other technological tools can be used to deliver virtual lessons or to design multimedia instructional materials that can be applied to both remote and in-person learning. Digital learning tools can engage people in the subject matter, help them grasp concepts and ensure they practice skills—but these tools must be chosen and applied thoughtfully to maximize their educational value and deliver desired learning outcomes.

Ryan Sobeck, a 2017 MA in Education Technology graduate from Adelphi University, learned the importance of this rule while a student in the program. “Jumping to adopt a specific technology just because there is a perspective that it will be more engaging, interactive or fun can lead to improper implementation and disappointment when expectations don’t align with reality—for the students and instructor alike,” he says.

When incorporated according to the principles of instructional design and learning theory, EdTech provides advantages to students, instructors and society at large. These are just a few specific benefits of educational technology:

  • It helps students better retain information. It’s easier for students to remember what they learned when they’re actively engaged in a topic. EdTech tools can be interactive and draw learners in through critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • It supports personalized learning. Some people have unique needs due to learning disabilities or other challenges. Today’s EdTech tools enhance the ability to tailor lessons and instruction to individuals or groups.
  • It makes education more accessible. Remote learning has made education programs available to learners of varying incomes, abilities, and locations, improving equity and creating opportunities for more people.
  • It provides new opportunities for group work. Learners can work on projects in the same program, often synchronously, for a fully collaborative experience. This further enhances engagement and empowers students to learn from each other.
  • It helps instructors identify students who are struggling. EdTech tools and platforms can gather data and provide teachers with a view of student progress. This allows them to identify students who are having trouble mastering a skill or a concept and take immediate action to step in and assist them before they fall behind.
  • It helps students prepare for the future. More aspects of life—not just work—are starting to require digital skills. EdTech gives learners experience working with technology, providing a foundation for entering or advancing in the workforce as well as engaging in activities that are now largely online, such as reading media publications and conducting research. As 2021 Adelphi University MA in Educational Technology graduate Krissy Dove points out, “Considering the backdrop of the past couple of years, I feel the importance of digital literacy and citizenship, as well as the importance of being an advocate for both in any position of instruction or communication, couldn’t be more apparent.”
  • 2022 Educational Technology Trends

    Advancements in technology and world events (such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated the adoption of remote learning around the world) are some of the factors driving the digital transformation of education. Some overarching educational technology trends we can expect to see in the coming years include:

    Gameful Learning

    One of the fastest-growing trends in EdTech, games provide elements of interactivity, competition and even collaboration, helping learners get involved with the subject matter in a fun way. The prospect of winning or accumulating “points” or other rewards can also be motivating.


    With more than 6 billion smartphone users in the world, mobile learning, or m-learning, is a cornerstone of modern distance education. Mobile learning involves the use of students’ personal mobile devices to access or complete their education.

    Data Analytics

    As learners engage with EdTech tools, those same tools gather data that instructors and organizational leaders can use to inform their planning and decisions on customizing lessons, improving instructional design or lesson content, and managing and supporting student progress.

    In his current position as the Assistant Director of Educational Technology of Yale University’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, Sobeck is particularly focused on this benefit of EdTech. “The increased discussion and emphasis on educational and instructional data that our educational technology systems produce has been a topic I am increasingly interested in, as institutions attempt to strike a precarious balance between leveraging valuable insights into student learning behavior to support course design and facilitation, and using data to address or understand instances of academic integrity issues,” he says.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Machine Learning (ML)

    In the field of EdTech, these data-driven technologies are often used to create automated “smart tutors” (also known as adaptive learning, intelligent tutors, or cognitive tutors) and teaching assistants, which can be available on demand. The advanced analytics of AI and ML can also help instructors identify at-risk students and improve learning outcomes.

    Augmented Reality (AR) And Virtual Reality (VR)

    These tools provide immersive learning experiences such as virtual field trips, historical reenactments and space exploration. There are also significant applications for technical training by offering learners a way to develop and practice skills on virtual equipment. AR and VR can also help overcome geographical and cost barriers to education.

    The Need for Worker Upskilling

    Advancements in technology and changes in job responsibilities mean that by 2025, half of all employees around the world will need new skills. This has enormous implications for EdTech professionals, who will be in high demand to create and lead programs, courses and lessons to provide these workers with the training they require.

    Careers with a Degree in Educational Technology

    EdTech isn’t limited to the education sector or school environments. All sorts of organizations, from nonprofits to government agencies to large private enterprises, offer educational technology jobs to train employees and educate the public and customers.

    “EdTech is very broad and includes teacher education and work in learning centers or other academic support spaces,” Sobeck points out. “It also crosses over into industry, with EdTech graduates working for educational technology start-ups or well-established companies.”

    For example, Dove manages the online stewardship education programs at Kiss the Ground, a regenerative agriculture education platform and community in Los Angeles. “It’s always been my goal to work at the intersection of environmental advocacy and education,” she says.

    Her position entails a lot of different responsibilities. “I oversee the educational platform and its online course operations, including both synchronous and asynchronous components, student and graduate community engagement, and many other freestanding educational resources and initiatives.”

    Here are just a few examples of the educational technology jobs you may qualify for with a master’s in education technology:

    Job Title Median Salary
    Instructional Designer* $65,553
    Instructional Coordinator** $63,740
    Technical Trainer* $71,886
    Learning and Development Consultant* $80,390
    Training and Development Manager** $120,130

    *Source: Payscale.com
    **Source: Payscale.com

    Preparation for Educational Technology Jobs

    An expert understanding of learning theory and instructional design, as well as technical skills, are essential for a successful career in EdTech. An MA in Educational Technology provides the foundational knowledge as well as hands-on learning that can prepare you for growing opportunities in the field.

    “My path through the program led me through some valuable hands-on experiences with projects involving graphic design, video editing, audio editing, basic programming and web development,” Dove says. “These experiences exposed me to aspects of instructional pedagogy and the learning sciences, which really broadened my horizons. My degree and the hands-on experiences I gained directly contributed to my being hired in my current role.”

    With the expertise gained from a master’s in educational technology combined with creativity and a curious mind, EdTech can offer you a wide variety of career paths as well as professional rewards and satisfaction over a lifetime.

    About Adelphi’s Online MA in Educational Technology

    Our online MA in Educational Technology program offers a blend of technical skills and problem-solving capabilities alongside theoretical and practical knowledge about teaching and learning. With this philosophy at its core, the program offers courses that teach practical skills, like Python and HTML5 programming, as well as a comprehensive exploration of theories of learning sciences.

    The program also offers opportunities for you to gain exposure to innovations in the areas of EdTech that interest you most. The large selection of electives gives you additional options to personalize your study, with topics including video games and learning, educational video production, mobile technology and learning, and social media.

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