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Becoming an education technology specialist
Old 05-17-2017, 12:59 PM
 
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I'm currently a junior in college majoring in computer science and education (two separate majors, although a crossover program would be super cool!). I'm hoping to become an education technology specialist (or some variation of that title) in a school/district. From what I've seen, schools that have a position like that seem to be quite varied in terms of what the job does. Ideally, I would want to help out on the instructional/implementation side and not just do IT things like fix printers, etc. To give a sense of what I'm hoping to do, things that I would love to do in an ideal job might include:
  • developing and implementing technology plans
  • giving input to technology purchases
  • working with teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms
  • training and providing support to teachers to use new software/technology
  • running a maker space in a school

I'm still a ways off from entering the job market, but I've been browsing for jobs that match these interests to get a sense for what is available. I've found a handful, but one thing I've noticed is most of the positions require or prefer applicants to hold a teaching licensure and/or have experience teaching. While I will graduate with a degree in education, the program I'm doing does not include a licensure. However, I have taken and will take several courses that cross under the teacher prep program including observations in schools.

To build up qualifications/credibility, I've been working on getting other forms of relevant experience. I've got a growing portfolio of education technology apps/add ons I've made (such as plugins for Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom as well as standalone platforms). I've done a few app demonstrations/workshops in schools of some of my family members who are teachers. This summer, I'll be teaching computer science at a technology camp.

Does anyone have a sense for whether pursuing a career in this area is possible/recommendable without first becoming a licensed teacher? If so, is there anything else I should do to better position myself?


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Start building up your experiences.
Old 05-17-2017, 02:21 PM
 
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I believe you can get an education technology specialist position without being a licensed teacher. It will be challenging, but chances are there are people somewhere in the world that were able to do it. Although you might not have a teaching license, you do want clear examples on your resume where you did teaching or worked with kids but most importantly the results that came from those experiences. I think its good that you have been looking at job postings to see what you need and have already done a few experiences teaching with the demonstrations/workshops then doing the technology camp later this year. That will help, but you better be prepared to back it up with evidence. This can be data results of what you were able to accomplish or better yet samples of what people were able to create.

Besides adding more teaching experiences, you want to show you can do other things the job might require. You already have a good list of requirements you can start working so use that list to help guide you on what needs to go on your resume. The technology plan and integrating technology are big ones employers will probably be looking at. This is where you can include in your portfolio plans you made for workshops or demonstrations or just sample ones you would do if you were at a school. I would include a lesson plan just to show employers you know how to do one and how you were able to integrate technology based on the academic content standards for your state.

If you are still uncertain, you can always try reaching out to people who have the position you want and send them a quick e-mail telling them you are interested in becoming a education technology specialist and would like to set up a time to chat to get advice. People who already have these positions would know the best on what you do and don't need for the position.
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Thank you!
Old 05-17-2017, 06:17 PM
 
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Thank you so much! This is super helpful.

I'm going to start putting together evidence and data so that I have an ongoing portfolio. I really like the idea of creating sample implementation plans, so I'll definitely do that as well.

I'm also going to try to connect with technology people from the district I went to (and maybe see if they have any connections I can talk to) while I'm home for the summer.
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Old 05-18-2017, 02:52 AM
 
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What is preventing you from getting a teaching license? If it is only a matter of some additional classes and some practice teaching, it seems to me it would be an excellent investment because it will make you more employable. In addition, it will give you more experience working with students in a classroom setting, which can be markedly different from summer camp and other informal settings.

I believe you may be able to find a job without getting the license, but I think you will greatly improve your prospects and also your ability to do a good job by pursuing the license.

One thing you might check is whether your state has an alternative licensing program. Sometimes in areas of critical need, it is possible to be licensed without completing a formal college program. In my community, there is a one year program that culminates in awarding of a license for college grads who want to pursue a career in education. If you happen to be in New Hampshire or Vermont, PM me and I can give you more information if you are interested.

I think you got great advice from the previous poster, but I would add that it will be worth your while to look into what it would take to get the license, rather than trying to avoid that.
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Old 05-18-2017, 05:17 PM
 
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I've been considering getting a teaching license - I'm trying to figure out if that's the best route to go. Unfortunately, I'm far enough into my undergraduate career that my only option at this point is an alternative licensing program or grad school.

I've been on the fence about it because I don't think I'd want to become a full time teacher, so I want to make sure going through a licensure program would be worth the extra time and cost. Would having a license without any teaching experience (beyond student teaching) be enough? If that's the most viable route to the positions I'm looking for, I'm definitely open to it.

Part of my apprehension is also more of a moral/philosophical/something dilemma. Since getting a teaching license requires so much from other people (like the teachers I'd observe/student teach with and their students that I'd teach), I'd be worried about taking up everyone's time to get a license that I don't plan to use other than to get a job.


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Edtech
Old 06-07-2017, 10:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Part of my apprehension is also more of a moral/philosophical/something dilemma. Since getting a teaching license requires so much from other people (like the teachers I'd observe/student teach with and their students that I'd teach), I'd be worried about taking up everyone's time to get a license that I don't plan to use other than to get a job.
But that experience will make you more valuable to teachers! Personally, I don't want a specialist advising me on how to incorporate technology in my classroom unless they are speaking from experience. i.e. they've spent time in actual classrooms with actual kids, and therefore have a good understanding of what is helpful & what isn't.

I don't think you should consider it a moral dilemma at all!
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Old 06-08-2017, 07:28 AM
 
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Our district has this type of position available. Here is a sample of the job description:

2017-2018 Vacancy
Campus Computer Technician (Certified)

RANGE:
$16.30 - $22.98

PRIMARY PURPOSE:
Facilitate the effective use of technology at the campus level
Provide technical support in the use of hardware and software
QUALIFICATIONS:
Education/Certification:
High school diploma
N Plus Certification
A Plus Certification
Associates degree preferred
Special Knowledge/Skills:
Knowledge of computer hardware and software applications
Ability to analyze and resolve computer hardware and software problems
Some knowledge of technologies available for use in the instructional setting
Ability to repair computer and technology equipment after consultation with technology advisor and/or district technology personnel
Strong organizational, communication, and interpersonal skills
Demonstrate an interest in and aptitude for the work to be performed with computer related problems
Willing to attend training in computer technology repairs
Experience:
1.Two years experience with WinXP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Office Suites, 07, 2010
2.Two years experience on computer repair and peripheral installation
3.Experience with basic network troubleshooting and wireless setup

MAJOR RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES:
Provide technical assistance to campus faculty and staff for use of equipment including computer hardware and instructional related software.
Provide immediate on-site assistance for technology problems and questions for campus staff.
Act as liaison between staff and campus technology advisor, assistant principal, and principal.
Assist in the maintenance of computers in classrooms to provide or arrange for needed repairs.
Manage student accounts for all instructional programs.(e.g. Active Directory)
Assist campus staff with the student information system. (e.g. Grade verification reports, report cards, etc.)
Assist with the setup of audio and visual equipment need to facilitate meetings, assemblies, instruction, etc.
Perform upgrades to software and hardware.
Run reports for any instructional software program.
Prepare and conduct training, materials and provide training sessions on instructional software as needed.
Prepare and maintain an updated technology equipment inventory.
Perform all duties in a safe manner to avoid injury to oneself and/or others.
Perform other duties as requested by the Principal and the Secretary


Some tasks not mentioned:

morning and afternoon duty (outside)

recess duty (they take care of one grade level and then the next and the next until all the grades have gone outside.)

Reading block tutor (they tutor students for about one and half hours everyday because we don't have the budget to hire paras for every class.)

State Testing (they spend the days as hall monitors)


I wouldn't recommend this type of job if you have a college degree. I really recommend that you find someone who has this type of job in your area.


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Old 06-15-2017, 02:29 PM
 
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At my school they are called TICS - Technology specialists. They do exactly what you are describing and rarely if ever actually fix computers or printers etc. It's a leadership role. They actually are considered team leaders but for technology. I think they follow the same salary schedule teachers follow .. with an added stipend.

If you are only going into your jr. year of college I would highly suggest that if possible you figure out a way that you can get your teacher certification. I've actually never heard of a teaching degree without getting licensed. The main criterion that administration is looking at is if you are licensed. You may be able to get an unlicensed job at a charter or Catholic school.. but even those schools are looking for licensed teachers when it comes to looking at the data, training teachers in the classroom to use and implement technology, offering PD on tech items and setting up tech programs/software for teachers and students.

I would urge you to get licensed. Maybe this depends on what state you live in?
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Thank you!
Old 06-16-2017, 11:57 AM
 
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Thank you for all of the helpful information, everyone! I'm definitely going to look into getting certified after I graduate - unfortunately, since I'm going into my senior year, I don't have enough enough room to take all of the required classes before then.

This may be a topic for another thread, but does anyone know which states (if any) have programs for getting certified to teach high school computer science? In both my home state and the state in which I go to school, it seems like the only way to teach computer science is to get certified as a science or math teacher first. Unfortunately, since my undergraduate degree will just be in computer science and education, I don't think I have a strong enough background in either of those areas to go that route.

My home state is a bit tricky because it looks like the state has created a way to become certified directly as a computer science teacher, but the program is so new that no colleges or universities have implemented it yet. The state in which I go to school only certifies high school teachers in science/social studies/English/math.
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Two cents
Old 06-22-2017, 10:55 AM
 
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I was a teacher long before I became a tech specialist, and am back to being a teacher. Here are my thoughts, from my perspective:
  • In a down economy, tech specialists are one of the first jobs to be eliminated (like librarians).
  • Teachers increasingly need to be "tech specialists"
  • Teaching is a very rewarding profession (don't let the politics get to you)
  • Your resumé will look fantastic with both teaching and edtech!

Of course you will make less $ than you would in the private sector with a computer science background.


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Old 09-25-2017, 10:32 AM
 
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Sounds like a great degree. Tech directors make big bucks.
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Old 11-17-2017, 03:15 PM
 
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Hey everyone!

Thank you all for the great advice. I wanted to follow up with my next steps if anyone else finds themselves in a similar position.

As I mentioned, I worked at a computer science camp over this past summer. I absolutely LOVED it - I definitely want to continue teaching.

I'm now a senior in college, and I'm setting up an internship in a local school district with a technology teacher and a technology administrator. Between the two of them, I will help plan and teach a few technology classes as well as work on PD materials for teachers - the best of both worlds for me!

I'm also exploring different levels of licensure in my state and ways the internship could count towards that.

I will continue to post updates on my journey with the internship and the next steps after that, licensure and career wise.
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