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Pros and Cons of Doctoral Degrees in Instructional Technology

written by: BMeredith•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 7/31/2009

Technology in the world continues to grow and with it the possibilities and probabilities for the online learning environment. This article discusses the pros and cons of pursuing doctoral degrees in instructional technology and its relevance in the online environment.

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    Pursuing the PhD in Instructional Technology: The Pros and Cons

    Quite often you hear about the quality and integrity of the online learning environment as it relates to educational practice. Much of the argument comes down to credibility and integrity as it relates to online presentation and content. The pursuit of online graduate degrees and the volume of new “non-traditional” students looking for alternatives to traditional brick and mortar educational environments has moved the conversation to the front. Add to this the increasing advances in technology and you have not only the need but the practicality of pursuing the online doctoral degrees in instructional technology.

    Of all the online advanced degrees, this is one of the more lucrative and practical to pursue in the online environment. A look at this degree from a purely financial perspective shows that the average salary for this degree is $100,000+ per year. These jobs cover both the instructional and the research phases of employment and are becoming an increasingly larger part of the higher educational environment. In addition, this degree crosses over into the business world as more companies are looking for and engaging educators to develop and train their workforce for working in communication and product development.

    On the technical side there is a trend towards online learning for students who have already finished at least one degree. The online environment allows for a more individualized pace of learning and shared practice. In this particular instance the instructional technology degree at all levels is uniquely suited for this type of learning. It allows the learner to experience and experiment with the techniques and practices being shared and to receive personalized feedback.

    The final piece to this discussion is the pros and cons that one must be aware of. While there are the obvious concerns such as time management, environmental support, and financial obligations, there are a few others that bear scrutiny.

    First, when making the commitment, care must be taken to define goals and maintain contact with advisers and instructors. Even in the best of circumstances trading communication through email can have time sensitive issues,. Making sure that you have phone numbers and personal contact should be an important part of your decision on where to pursue this degree. This includes periodic conversations with your adviser to make sure you are on track for graduation. Student services for an online school have some of the same challenges that traditional brick and mortar schools have. Ultimately the responsibility for classes and movement through your degree are yours, but a good online school is like any other and communication is an important piece to be considered.

    Next, make sure you understand and can navigate the learning platform. Two of the most popular are WebCT and Blackboard; and they are both very user friendly. It does not hurt to inquire or investigate the quality of the technical support department. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to meet a deadline and not being able to log on to the course room. This is another reason for staying with these two environments. This writer has finished a master's and all but finished a PhD using both of these platforms and my technical issues have been few and far between.

    In conclusion, this is one of the most sought after online degrees because it has a wealth of opportunities, financial enrichment and technical compatibility with the online environment. It not only makes sense and is a worthwhile investment in this changing economy and worth both the time and the effort.