To be successful in an instructional technology career (“the other IT”) you must first know education. I’m a career educator. My job is to teach others to use technology products and services in daily instruction. I promote instructional best practices integrating technology in the classroom. I am a trainer/teacher, a troubleshooter, and an innovator all wrapped in one.
Why it got started. The field of instructional technology didn’t exist when I graduated from college or graduate school. The rapid and exponential growth of technology usage made its way into the field of education starting in the late 1980s. I work in the K-12 area (Kindergarten-12th grade classes) but technology use has extended into other K-12 programs.
How I got started. I was drafted into teaching computer classes while teaching in high school. Personal computing was new. Administration was searching for teachers for this brand new area. Enter me, with an undergraduate minor in mathematics. I had already taught for a computer education company. Perfect! I got into it and never looked back. Now college degrees are offered in instructional technology.
What makes it work. Teaching effective technology usage to students and teachers requires many skills, but for me the most important requirement is to love it. What makes me unique is I have a lot of technical background from working in information technology. Many instructional technologists come directly from the classroom without the IT background. Understanding IT has really served me well on lots of levels. You also must have knowledge of both Mac and Windows platforms. Learn as much as you can. You can’t be limited in what you have to offer.
Bring your “A” game! If you don’t know what you’re doing, your students will call you out! It’s extremely important to know your content. Kids know more about technology than a lot of adults (their teachers!) do, and they love it. I swear they have digital DNA!
What makes it fun! The hottest device creating excitement in classrooms right now is Apple’s iPad. New technology comes (and goes) all the time in this profession. I enjoy these changes. I’m networking, keeping current. I’m constantly reading, researching, attending conferences and developing great business relationships with product vendors. I’ve traveled and met some fabulous people.
I have grown tremendously since I began working in this field. It’s a rewarding career. It’s a fun career and it’s my career!