Tony Karrer's eLearning Blog on e-Learning Trends eLearning 2.0 Personal Learning Informal Learning eLearning Design Authoring Tools Rapid e-Learning Tools Blended e-Learning e-Learning Tools Learning Management Systems (LMS) e-Learning ROI and Metrics

Friday, December 14, 2007

Master's Education Technology or Instructional Design - Which Programs? Why?

I'm hoping people might be able to help a reader who has an inquiry that I really don't know much about...

I've been reading your blog for a while. I've read the an older blog post on Online Master's program's, but I am still quite lost.

I would like to take a two year Master's program in education, education technology, or instructional design. Right now I'm leaning towards the University of Colorado Denver or the San Diego program.

I am a corporate trainer wanting to expand my skills and knowledge to creating interactive training programs (eLearning).

I am wondering if you have any suggestions on which Master program is would provide a solid education on this subject?

I've known several people who went through the San Diego program and were quite good. But other than that, I don't have enough experience with this question to have any real thoughts.



Chris McQueen said...

I'm three semesters into an MS in 'Instructional and Performance Technology' at Boise State University and I have loved it. the instruction is great and the program has the most experience at online learning. If you're looking to go back to school, I would suggest it.
My only struggle has been that I started this program right after my Bachelor's degree and most of the students are 'coming back' to college with much more experience than I have. So, while I'm at the beginning of my career, most of my classmates are really in their prime. But, that might be the best thing for your reader, so doesn't seem like a problem.

B.J. Schone said...

I earned my MEd online from the University of Missouri-Columbia. It's a Master's in Educational Technology with emphasis in Learning Systems Design & Development. It's a great program and I feel well-prepared to take on any eLearning project. But maybe that's just overconfidence. :)

You can read more about the program here.

Good luck!

Joe Deegan said...

This hits close to home! I just paid tuition for my first semester in the Educational Technology Program at San Diego State. I was tormented choosing between Boise State and San Diego. I spent quite a bit of time on each programs web site looking at class descriptions and reading about the faculty. I chose SDSU based on the fact that the class descriptions were exactly what I was looking for and of course cost always comes into play. I don't remember the exact figures for Boise State but I live in CA so I would have to cover the out of state fees in addition to the regular tuition. I got my undergrad in the CSU system so a little bias may have came into play. Both programs looked great so I don't think you can go wrong either way but Go Aztecs!

Janet Clarey said...

If the reader is looking for the flexible scheduling offered by an online university, they might want to check out Capella University's Masters program in Instructional Design for Online Learning. (what other way to learn how to design for online learning than online?). I am alum of the program and finished in 2.5 years. The program is geared toward working professionals and many of the courses are designed to address the current workplace problems of the students (work on real-life projects). If the reader is looking for an overall ID program that is not limited to online education, Syracuse University has a Masters and Doctoral program in their School of Education - the Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation program. I am a PhD student their now.

Janet Clarey said...

...duh...typo last line. I'm a PhD student there now...

jrschiff said...

I recently graduated from the UC Denver program and I really enjoyed it. It was a great mix of practical and theoretical and I have an e-portfolio to show to prospective employers. There was also a nice mix of backgrounds... elementary and high school teachers, corporate trainers and post-secondary. There were even folks from the armed forces.

I think the best way to decide is if you can take a look at the courses offered and see how they fit with what you are doing now and what you want to do once you get the Masters.

Good luck and enjoy whatever you end up doing!

Anonymous said...

Pepperdine offers a Master's in Educational Technology, which is attractive. It's only a one year program (intensive) and you have a lot of flexibility in the research project you do. I've also heard good things about all of the programs listed above.

I think one of the Arizona schools also has a good program.

wslashjack said...

My bias is that I am in a small company...totally different, at least in some ways, than working for a larger company. And I own the company. So with that, allow me to serve up a completely different answer.

When I hire, I look at a person with a masters degree with hesitation. I would much rather see two years of great experience somewhere, than a masters degree. A degree tells me very little, except that you may not be a real, self-motivated learner. You got your undergraduate. Fine; it won't hurt you. But, to me, this is still a portfolio business. Show me some real work. I would rather you had spent two years working for nearly nothing, to get solid experience...and have something real-world-tangible to show for it. That would also show me what a dedicated, resourceful, hardworking person you are.

And while we're at it, more than your education and skills, I hire attitude. You can teach a lot of skills, on the job, but you can't teach attitude. And a can-do, confident, positive, buck stops here attitude is literally money in the bank for any size business.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that both were on the West Coast. Let me give you a different perspective. I teach in an East Coast School, (University at Albany) that offers a Master in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology (it is a complete online degree). It is very well known in New York and New England, but may not be that well known outside of the Northeast, especially among corporate recruiters.

I would first identify were you want to work. Even though the degree is online, the University's reputation is important in the region where you want to work. I have heard of Boise's program, I have not heard of the University of Colorado's reputation in Instructional Technology or SDSU's reputation in instructional technology. They may be outstanding, but unknown on the east coast. If you want to work in the midwest, I would look at the University of Indiana or Kent State for example.

When I received my degree in International Business at the University of Denver, the school was nationally ranked. However, as a graduate going back to the east coast, it did not give me the contacts I needed to find a job on the east coast.

Find a good school, then decide based on your fit with the school and reputation where you want to work.

mike said...

I'm about to enter my last semester in the San Diego State program and can honestly say that is has been great. There is a really good mix of people attending from corporate and educational backgrounds. The one thing that to me was a really nice thing with this program was that there is plenty of flexibility built in that by selecting your elective courses you can slant the degree in whichever direction appeals to you the most.

Plus the faculty is top rate with several being real leaders in their fields.

My experience is that the other students have also contributed to my learning by sharing their their thoughts and ideas freely. Pretty cool.

Lastly they have both on-campus and on-line options. It seems the on-campus students tend to be younger while those of us on-line older with more professional least that's what it SEEMS like from where I sit.

Great program!

Robert Becker said...

As an employer, I've been impressed with graduates of the instructional systems programs at Georgia State University and Florida State University.
I would venture to disagree with the post that dismisses the value of graduate studies in favor of work experience. Are you really getting into a portfolio business? Unlike graphic design and illustration, ISD pros normally work in teams and their "portfolios" represent the efforts of many people. Having the degree signifies that you are a professional, more than just a worker, and that you may know more than experience teaches. That's always a good thing!

Anonymous said...

I graduated in July from Jones International University with a Masters of Education in eLearning. I loved it, but better yet. I am an online instructor for a new Masters of Science Degree that is truly unique in the world of elearning. Education Media Design & Technology starts in January at Full Sail. Full Sail is know for video and sound degrees but this is new adventure into Education. Every student will have a MacBook Pro and video camera. We will be using all the new tools. This is a one year program, very fast and very intensive. Expect to spend at least 20-30 hours a week. Please look at the web site and I am sure you will find this program very interesting.

Michael Hanley said...

I think that the key component here is the learning or career goal your correspondent wants to attain. I have just graduated with an MSc in Learning & Technology from the National College of Ireland (a little far afield if you're based in NA I'm afraid!) but when researching which of the many courses to take, I found that the scope offered by programmes focusing on the discipline of instructional design were less well-rounded than courses covering a range of e-learning topics. As the query notes that the person wants to acquire the "skills and knowledge to creat[e] interactive training programs", I would suggest that they look for a course covering topics such as learning theory, instructional design, multimedia authoring tools, e-learning project management, LMSs, and performance and organisational development. As someone who worked as both an instructional designer and a digital media developer before becoming an full-time e-learning consultant, I can tell you that the ability to draw upon a wide range of competencies and knowledge resources is invaluable in enabling the learning professional to design, develop, implement and manage learning solutions in organisations.

Anonymous said...

I'm also at Boise (online) for the MS in Instructional and Performance Technology in the School of Engineering. I just wrapped up my first class and it was a lot of work, but I loved it. (I'm not on a 2 year track, as one class at a time seems to keep me pretty busy!) Like others have mentioned, Course Descriptions were a big factor in my choice - I thought their mix was just right. Also, I know someone who graduated from the program and she had nothing but rave reviews. Good luck and much success in whatever program you choose!

Anonymous said...

You may also want to take a look at Indiana University's Instructional Systems Technology Master's program. They have a distance option which is completed entirely online and best of all you pay instate tuition (very reasonable) even if you reside outside of Indiana. Professors are top notch and well known in the ID field: Reigeluth, Molenda, and 'Thiagi' to name a few.

I had a wonderful experience there and it certainly opened many doors for me in my career.

MilesDavisSucks said...

I finished the ITMA (Instructional Technology) program at Virginia Tech last year.

I've been in the field for twelve years as mostly a courseware developer. I found that getting a degree that was heavy on the ID side really helped me shape subsequent courseware to ensure its adherence to ID guidelines.

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog site for me to stumble upon as I am in process of deciding my graduate degree. I'm looking at Instructional Technology, Instructional Design, or Education. I agree very much with Michael Hanley's post that a well rounded knowledge base is most effective. I am currently an instructional technology support specialist in higher ed but I feel like I'm doing instructional design more than anything. I feel my undergraduate degree in computer information science has prepared me to understand the problems that can occur with the technology but I am lacking the educational theory to support why I believe a course or assignment should be implemented in a certain way. Sometimes the faculty I support don't accept my opinion because they don't see me as an equal, I am "just staff". I think instructional design is very important for the future of education because of the shear volume of information that we all must juggle. I've had my fill of unorganized, fly by the seat of my pants instructors. I'm trying very hard not to become what I hate. This is why I'm seeking to chose the best graduate program for the goals and vision I have for my own future in education.

Anonymous said...

i have created a list of more than 25 programmes in edtech/elearning from across the world. most of the programmes are online/blended learning.

Anonymous said...

oops the list is


khm said...

I have just posted but would be really interesting just what do you think as a Master in Ed Tech or ID Graduate should you have in your portfolio? What types of projects? I have an Bachelor in Learning Design & cmpleting my M Ed Tech so I have a blend ofthe ID and the Technology happening.

What is the benchmark of skills or should I say programs to be skilled up in?

So it seems that many ID roles (only want ID skills) so whats your opinion? I thought they made a good pair and were quite complimentary... hence my pathway.

Feel free to check out my site
:) Kylie

Unknown said...


I have double masters in Arts and Education and would like to step into Instructional Technology domain career area and can you sugest me certification course offering good universities.


Kylie Hutchings Mangion said...

Hi Anna

I am completing my Masters in Ed Tech at USQ and am thoroughly enjoying it, you may also like to check out the Uni of Sydney they have a Masters in Science Learning and Technology. This was my other choice.

Cheers Kylie

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I would like to know your opinions about the MA in Computing in Education from Columbia Univ. Has anyone attended it?

Anonymous said...

Hi,am an international student looking for a reputed on-campus program in the NY/NJ or the Tri-State area.Do anyone of you know about the Bridgeport University's, MSIT program in Connecticut?Any information is highly appreciated.

Theresa said...

The program below was excellent ~ fun ~ collaborative ~ great take away projects ~ theory based ~ diverse ~ corporate trainers to teachers ~ I just graduated.

All online ~ University of Illinois

Ed.M. in Human Resource Education with a Concentration in eLearning

Program URL:

Number of Required Campus Visits: 0

Total Number of Credit Hours: 36 Sem. Hr(s).