Meet Ryan Sobeck and Krissy Dove, two Adelphi MA in Educational Technology graduates whose career paths have taken them into very different fields: academia and agriculture.
They are great examples of how EdTech skills can be used in a wide range of industries. While many Adelphi graduates work at K-12 or postsecondary schools, others go on to roles in corporate, government or nonprofit environments. Their career paths show that engaging, effective teaching that respects the learners’ needs goes beyond classroom settings.
In this two-part interview series, Ryan and Krissy share how the EdTech master’s program led to their current roles and how they use the skills they’ve learned in their day-to-day work. Ryan’s interview is below and you can read Krissy’s interview here.
Ryan Sobeck graduated with his MA in Education Technology from Adelphi University in 2017 and is now assistant director of educational technology at Yale University’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.
Let’s start with your professional path. Where has your career taken you so far?
I worked at Adelphi University’s Faculty Center for Professional Excellence (FCPE) while I was an undergraduate and graduate student. There I helped faculty learn to use Moodle, our Learning Management System (LMS). This was my first experience with educational technology and the impetus that led to me pursuing my master’s degree.
After working in the Faculty Center as a student worker for about eight years, I became their full-time interactive learning designer as I was finishing up my MA in Educational Technology. That role had a major focus on managing our just-in-time support and technology training efforts with faculty.
Upon graduation, I became an instructional designer in the Faculty Center, which let me keep one foot in the educational technology support space while allowing me room to expand into course and curriculum design, student assessment and faculty development.
In the spring of 2021, I accepted a position as an assistant director of educational technology at Yale University’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. The Poorvu Center’s Educational Technology team serves as the service owner for Canvas, Yale’s Learning Management System (LMS), as well as many of the other external applications integrated into the LMS. We also facilitate workshops and consultations for instructors on how to best leverage their educational technology tools to meet their students’ learning needs.
Why did you decide to pursue a degree in educational technology?
When I first came to Adelphi, I thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher, so I started in the 4+1 Scholar Teacher Education Program (STEP). But I realized after only a few classes that teaching high school was not the right fit for me, although I still liked the idea of working in an educational setting.
As mentioned, I was also working in the Faculty Center for Professional Excellence as an undergrad doing educational technology support. It was the first time I had been told and shown that there was an entire field and career path that existed to learn, teach and support educational technology.
Why was Adelphi the right fit for your master’s degree?
I selected Adelphi’s online program because of Professor Matthew Curinga. He was gracious enough to serve as a reader for my undergraduate thesis defense in Adelphi’s Honors College my senior year. He read my thesis and treated me and my work with a level of academic rigor and respect that demonstrated he really cared about the work he did with students.
When I looked for a program in educational technology, Matt was the first person I spoke with about my options. Many of my mentors and colleagues in the Faculty Center for Professional Excellence were either already in the program or graduates themselves, which gave me a clear pathway to see how the degree translated to the work being done around me.
What did you hope to achieve from the EdTech master’s program?
I had a lot of experiential learning in educational technology and support from my time in the Faculty Center for Professional Excellence. While I was at the Center, I worked alongside brilliant, caring, empathetic staff members who worked on engaging and interesting projects with faculty and the university at large. I was set on becoming an instructional designer and getting to do those kinds of high-level course design projects and consults.
In pretty much every way imaginable, Adelphi assisted me in achieving those goals: from showing me that educational technology and instructional design is a viable career, to providing meaningful learning and work opportunities, to eventually hiring and promoting me to an instructional designer.
The degree definitely helped me get my job, as it jump-started my entire career. I am where I am today in my career at Yale and in my personal life because of the education and opportunities that Adelphi and this program provided me.
Are there any topics from the program that you are using in your current role?
The most valuable things I learned in the program were around instructional design. I was introduced to the concepts of ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate) and backward design that I still use every day to frame and orient my work.
Could you tell us about a favorite project from the EdTech program?
One of my favorite projects was in the Learning with Video Games course. I partnered with my classmate and colleague in the Faculty Center at the time, Carl “Robby” Lucia, to create a prototype of a tabletop board game complete with cover and game art, formatted template game sheets and rule book.
We had an awesome time collaborating on the game together and presenting it to the class. We enjoyed it so much that we kept working on it after the course concluded and even ran beta test playthroughs with friends to keep tweaking the rules!
You’ve described your philosophy as “lead with your teaching and let the right tech tool be a byproduct of those decisions.” Could you tell us a little more about how this approach guides your work?
We are continuously distracted by new devices and apps promising to fix every teaching and learning problem plaguing our school systems.
But we have to understand that these educational technology tools are only useful and impactful if they align appropriately with the instructors’ facilitation strategies and the students’ learning objectives.
When working with a faculty member and discussing their teaching or course design, I will often lead the conversation with a discussion about what they hope to accomplish and the facilitation strategy they hope to use. Once we both understand the outcomes they hope to achieve, we can then look at the tools available to meet that need.
Adopting a specific technology just because it seems more engaging, interactive or fun can lead to improper implementation and disappointment—for students and instructors alike—when expectations don’t align with reality.
What is a recent development in EdTech that has caught your interest?
I am interested in the increased discussion around and emphasis on the educational and instructional data produced by educational technology systems.
Many institutions are leveraging this data to gain valuable insights into student learning behavior to support course design and facilitation strategies. However, there are also many conversations around what it means to be responsible stewards for the vast amount of student and instructor data generated by these systems.
Finally, what tips do you have for someone who is deciding whether an MA in EdTech is right for them?
Talk to the faculty in the program: Matt Curinga and Aaron Chia Yuan Hung are some of the best teachers I’ve ever learned from or had the pleasure of working with professionally. Connecting with the faculty who run and teach in the program can be incredibly helpful in determining if a master’s in EdTech is a good fit for you.
If possible, talk with alumni of the program to see how they use their degrees. EdTech is a very broad field, encompassing specialization and additional education for K-12 instructors, as well as teaching and learning centers and other academic support spaces in higher education. It also crosses over into other industries, with alumni working for educational technology start-ups or well-established private companies.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Adelphi’s MA in Educational Technology is unlike any other online or hybrid master’s program out there. It is taught by instructors who are incredibly invested and present in their courses, who take the time to really know and engage with their students. It was everything I needed it to be, and it helped set up my career for success.
|Meet another Adelphi MA in EdTech alum: Krissy Dove, stewardship program manager at Kiss the Ground|
About Adelphi’s Online MA in Educational Technology
The Master of Arts in Educational Technology from Adelphi University is an innovative program that provides a theoretical and practical background in technology-supported learning.
Our fully online graduate degree offers a balance of hands-on training, computer programming and knowledge about teaching and learning.
The only admissions requirement for the MA in EdTech is a bachelor’s degree in any subject. As a result, our online program attracts individuals from a broad range of educational and professional backgrounds including teaching, instructional design, library science, communications, web design, software engineering and computer science. Our students include newcomers to the field as well as professionals looking to change careers or expand their skills.
To learn more about the online MA in EdTech, download our program brochure. You can also talk with an enrollment counselor at 888.252.4110.
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