Reasons to Get a PhD in Educational Leadership Through Educational Technology

Since technology has become part and parcel of our everyday lives, we have accepted its company as though the air we breathe. Similarly in the teaching environment, younger aged students quickly grasp the technical side of technology. They may not actually understand why technology is useful but rather it’s a means by which we live. As it may come as a surprise to many, technology is not exactly the do-all and see-all. Technology as a tool remains a steadfast fact. It does not supersede man unless it’s one of those horror science fiction flicks whereby robots take over the world and make man into their slaves.

In order for a teaching professional to better understand how and when to incorporate technology as part of their profession, obtaining a PhD in Educational Leadership through Educational Technology is a good avenue to look into. As part of this doctorate program, the student is made to understand how modern technology shapes the education process. It also imparts clear statements on what technology represents. Being able to identify the latest in processor chips, memory specifications, smart devices, applications and the likes is just a tip of the iceberg. A student is exposed to the role of technology in education, when to include technology as part of the process and when to abstain. When applying technology into the education process, various types of technology are up for discussion and selection. Manufacturers of hardware and software scramble over one another to convince educational leaders of their superiority and latest advancement.

As part of the coverage in a PhD in Educational Leadership through Educational Technology program, the PhD student learns the principles, aspects and importance of designing a curriculum to better apply education into daily lives. The curriculum may or may not adopt technology as an active participant as conventional pen and paper works better at times. In incorporating technology into the education, care is taken to ensure technology complements the curriculum.

Upon completion of this doctorate programs, many candidates pursue a career at academic institutions of higher level such as colleges and universities. Some opt for consulting positions by providing services to assess an institution’s methods in using technology as a tool for education. Others may join governmental or educational authorities to participate in think tank projects to promote education with technology.

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Getting Started Writing Continuing Education Courses

Online continuing education courses have gained in popularity among licensed professionals in recent years mostly because of their affordability and convenience. There are literally hundreds of thousands of state licensed professionals across the country who are required to complete continuing professional education in order to renew their licenses. This creates an equally huge market for authors of continuing education course material.

In an earlier article, Become a Continuing Education Author and Earn Mailbox Money!, I described the benefits to licensed professionals, such as architects, engineers, land surveyors, interior designers and landscape architects, in sharing their expertise and experience with others by becoming an author of continuing education courses. In this article I will explain in more detail just how to go about doing it.

First, select a topic in which you are both interested and experienced. It is much easier to write about something that interests you and you have experience with than something outside your interest and experience. Be careful to choose a topic that is neither too broad nor too specific. Your course must be broad enough to appeal to a wide audience, but specific enough to provide useful information.

For instance, if you are an architect who specializes in retail interiors in shopping malls you probably have a lot of experience dealing with the property management’s Tennant Coordinator who reviews and approves your designs. A course that covers the general process of complying with the landlord’s technical and submittal requirements, sprinkled with real-world examples of common pitfalls and solutions could be of great interest to other architects and interior designers who also work on projects in shopping malls.

Once you have a topic in mind prepare a brief outline of the issues you want to talk about. This doesn’t have to be a formal outline, just enough to get your basic ideas on paper. You can then begin to expand upon each item.

At this point you should consider writing what are known as “Learning Objectives.” Learning Objectives are basically what the student can expect to learn by taking the course. Nearly every state licensing board requires that Learning Objectives be clearly and concisely spelled out at the beginning of a continuing education course. There should be at least three Learning Objectives for each credit hour of the course. So a one-hour course should have at least three, and a three-hour course should have at least nine. Learning Objectives should be no more than one or two sentences in length.

With your basic outline and Learning Objectives in hand you can now begin to break up major headings into subheadings and further expand upon those. Your outline and course should flow naturally and logically from the broader topic to the more detailed specifics and examples.

You should consider including pictures, drawings, diagrams or charts as visual aids to help explain your points. Asking a student to read one paragraph of text after another, page after page, without graphic aids to reinforce and break up the text is not a good idea. Use only non-copyrighted graphics and never plagiarize someone else’s work. You should also use major and minor headings in your text and pleasing combinations of bold and italicized text to further break up and reinforce the concepts you are explaining. And be sure to proof read your course for spelling and syntax errors before submission.

The last step in creating your course is to prepare a test. Tests should be in the form of True/False and multiple-choice questions. Both types may be used, however, True/False questions should not make up more than 50% of the questions. Multiple-choice questions should contain no fewer than three and no more than six choices. The test questions can be either part of the course document or a separate document. You will also be required to provide the course provider company you are submitting to with a copy of the test with the correct answers highlighted in some fashion.

The number of test questions required will depend upon the credit hour length of the course. A one-hour course should contain no fewer than ten test questions. Each additional hour should contain at least five additional questions. So a two-hour course should contain no fewer than 15 test questions.

Continuing education courses are generally assigned credit according to the length of time an average student can read and understand the material and take the accompanying test. The universally accepted units are the “PDH”, or Professional Development Hour, and the “CEU”, or Continuing Education Unit. One PDH equals one hour of professional development. One CEU is equivalent to ten professional development hours. So if your course takes an average student two hours to read and comprehend and take the test it should be rated as worth two PDH or 0.2 CEU.

You are free to include at the end of your course a list of references for further study and a bibliography. Be sure to give appropriate citations to any quotations used from other sources. You should also be prepared to submit a short biography of yourself along with your first course.

Each course provider company has their own submission requirements and pay scales. Generally speaking, you can expect to either be paid outright for the copyright to your course, or to receive a commission of around 20% of the sales of your course for some period of time. Again generally speaking, the shelf life of a continuing education course is three years. After that period of time many providers will require that you update the course and possibly sign a new contract to extend your commission for another period.

There are a variety of online continuing education course providers easily found through an Internet search. Each serves certain target professions, such as architects and engineers, or mechanical and electrical contractors. Find the ones who serve your profession and contact them. You will want to be familiar with their writing guidelines, commission rates, contracts and submission requirements before you attempt to prepare a course for them. They may also have course topic suggestions and even restrictions. Most providers will not accept a course on a specific topic for which they already have a course. So check it out before you invest your time and energy.

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Education and the Learning Revolution

It sometimes seems to be the case that education in the UK often becomes a bit of a political football – so much so that there is a danger that we lose the essence of what learning is all about.

Many commentators have spoken of the need for not simply educational reform but for educational revolution.

In the 1980’s the authors Dryden and Vos made the observation that we were teaching young people to face a future in which they will have to solve problems that we do not know will be problems yet, with technologies that do not exist yet and undertake roles and jobs which we have no concept of – yet.

A few years ago a presentation called SHIFT HAPPENS highlighted some of the ways in which change is happening exponentially – what we know, what we think we know – what we understand, what we think we understand – is all in a state of flux. In short technological and scientific developments are redefining the skills that we will need to engage fully in our futures.

As technology and scientific discoveries shape and mold our understanding of the world they bring with them new and different moral and ethical questions which will need to be addressed.

The real question is whether or not our current education systems, which Sir Ken Robinson maintains stifles creativity and are really ‘one long university application process’, can meet the challenge of the future.

For the most part education systems are linear, attempting to homogenize learning experiences by creating academic targets that are based upon chronological age and not social-emotional-intellectual readiness. At the same time teachers are being presented with a host of ‘learning initiatives’ that are often little more than coverings for a crumbling system; hence they are met with cynicism promoting a real lack of joined-up thinking.

This is not about the teachers and the quality of their work. It is more about the structures within which they are working or are expected to work.

Talk to teachers about teaching and learning and one of their first observations will be about the ‘crowded curriculum’ followed by a disheartening reflection that “admin work” is taking them away from the process of engaging with young people in learning challenges and conversations.

At the start of this academic term I was invited to talk to a group of parents and eager Year 10 students about the ‘fresh start’ they could make on their chosen examination subjects. The focus of my talk was about being emotionally engaged, and therefore, motivated by their own learning. All went well and my presentation was well received, but perhaps would have been so much more ‘real’ if had not been preceded by a senior member of staff in the school talking about ‘target levels’, ‘projected’ and ‘expected’ grades and the need to ensure that grades were in need of constant improvement in order to ensure that colleges of further and higher education looked favourably on future applications.

Surely there are several questions here…

The first is the motivational nature of ‘targets’ in the first place. There is a world of difference between having targets ‘imposed’ and having targets developing from personal goals and interests.

Secondly is the assumption that further or higher academic education, based upon GCSE or A level grades, is the right path for all.

So much for personalised learning!

Of course a cynic could say that the subtext for such targets, and the striving for ‘good grades’ is not about the education of our young people, but about the political hoops that need to be jumped through in order to be recognised as a ‘good’ school or ‘excellent teacher’.

Many of those working at the ‘chalk face’ are aware of the tension that can exist between ‘teaching and learning’, as a philosophical ideal, and ‘education’ as a political agenda where funding and performance are so often linked.

Any Education Authority, School or Teacher daring to take revolutionary view of teaching and learning, must not only face the challenges dictated by central government, where academic progress (i.e. examination performance) is ‘king’, but also the perceptions of parents who cling to more traditional approaches to teaching and learning with the honest intention of wanting their children to ‘do the best they can’.

The truth of the matter is that, in terms of subject knowledge and personal skills, what was valuable in the past may not be that relevant in the future.

In essence, perhaps, there are only four key skill areas in which revolutionary educators need to focus.

1) The Ability to Access and Assess Information

2) The Ability o Communicate Effectively in a Variety of Ways

3) The Ability to Manage and Lead Self

4) The Ability to Manage Chang

Each of these areas have within them other, more generic skills, and the issue is that all can be developed within the framework of a curriculum that is not necessarily divided by ‘subjects’ but linked through ‘context’.

I heard Richard Dawkins comment recently on the decline in the standards of scientific literacy in our society, and the fact that science itself may have been marginalised by a more egalitarian education system wherein personal opinion was perhaps more valued than collective understanding based upon empiricism and reasoned argument.

In many respects I echo this sentiment.

We need to address deficits in critical thinking and encourage the fundamental question ‘how do we know’?

But this cannot be done at the expense of creativity and personal expression.

Artists do not have the monopoly on creativity and personal expression in the same way that scientists do not have the sole rights to analysis and rationality.

The Learning Revolution, the one that has stalled several times, demands that young people are asked questions about what they THINK and how the FEEL in equal measure – and be given the skills to REFLECT upon those questions.

It insists upon encouraging young people to identify their TALENTS and their PASSIONS, which may have little to do with university entrance or academic results.

It requires parents, teachers and politicians to recognise that the skills and knowledge that served them for the NOW may not be the same as those demanded by a society of the FUTURE

“A student can win twelve letters at a university without learning how to write one” – Robert Maynard Hutchins

Dr Alan Jones in an NLP Trainer, Motivational Speaker and Educational Coach who has worked with a wide range of clients including international organisations, education authorities, professional training providers and individuals. He is an Accredited de Bono Thinking Skills Consultant.

His colleagues recognise not only his particular skills as a trainer and presenter but also his eclectic interests. He is a magician (Member of the Magic Circle), mentalist, writer and broadcaster.

His ‘pet’ personal projects are Magic 4 Learning (teaching personal and learning skills through magic and conjuring); The Rational Mystic (bringing skepticism, mysticism and critical thinking together); EQUALISE (a Peer Mentoring project based upon key aspects of Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Literacy) and Mind Alignment/Achieve! – a project built upon NLP principles, aspects of Transpersonal Psychology and Emotional Intelligence which aims to inspire, motivate and encourage personal change.

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Entrepreneurship, Web 2.0, and Flexibility in Imagination – The Future of Higher Education

In the wake of a downturn in university enrollments, the credit crunch, and the rise of distance study and home learning, much has been written recently of the future of higher education. Interestingly, there is a diversity of individuals representing many differing opinions within the education sector who have quite different ideas of what exactly the future holds for UK HE students. So can all of these ideas be realized in one place?

In an article by Iain Laing at nebusiness.co.uk, he explores the importance of teaching the “workforce of tomorrow” the skills of business and entrepreneurship. These are the opinions expressed by Lord Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra Beer, who stresses that we need ‘to create business-ready graduates with entrepreneurial skills’. However, where we once may have thought that such propositions would result in an increase in the range and accessibility of business and entrepreneurship courses (which would no doubt be great), this should really only be the beginning.

In a report, which received contributions by Bilimoria and Allan Gibb (formerly of Durham Business School) it seems that entrepreneurship needs to be included in every single subject in a move that will be considered ‘a systematic overhaul of academic disciplines’. “The UK needs to be able to retain talented graduates, not just produce them,” Laing says.

In an interview in trainingzone.co.uk, education author George Siemens highlights that even before the term “Web 2.0” (meaning web tools such as social networking sites and blogs etc) there was already a ‘changing relationship between our faculty members and the learners…we found that once the students had access to resources online the framework we (the teachers) had created for them to learn in was less critical.’ It seems that growing incorporation of Web 2.0 technology is seeing a power shift between lecturer and student, where the student now has more governance over their own education – a benefit that has been fully realized by the increasing numbers of learners studying online when and where they want to.

Flexibility is the key here, and this is an idea that was echoed as many highly regarded educators prepared for The Brighton Conference this month. In reference to design education (one of the most popular subjects at today’s universities), Professor Jonathan Woodham argues, ‘I think, in general, design education does not prepare students well. The key thing is to encourage flexibility in imagination – does the higher education curriculum encourage the development of flexibility and skills, or does it just stick within rigid disciplinary frameworks?’

Alongside the obligatory relationship with Web 2.0, flexibility is also naturally inherent to distance learning, and is fast becoming one of its biggest pros. Similarly, e-learning has long been a hotbed for courses in entrepreneurship and business due to the rising need for adult learners who want to increase their employability at the same time as continuing with their current jobs. Do all these people actually want the same thing?

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