- Enrollment surges in IT M.Ed. program
- Online modality meets rising demand for teachers skilled in technology integration
For Coastal's instructional technology faculty, moving their graduate program 100% online was a logical response to a growing adult learner market. "It's not rocket science," declared Dr. Jeremy Dickerson, M.Ed. coordinator, "we listened to our partner districts, acknowledged a national trend and modified our program accordingly." The original degree design was hybrid, with five core classes online and five specialization classes on campus. In its first year, fourteen students enrolled, all teachers interested in developing advanced skills integrating technology into their professional practice.
The horizon shifted completely when the program went entirely online in its second year, producing 44 graduates this past May. "The college of education has surveyed regional teacher preferences for almost ten years," said Dickerson, "and their responses have aligned consistently with modality findings articulated in national reports - teachers increasingly want professional development opportunities delivered online."
Enrollments in the Instructional Technology program have now climbed to over 200 students, with many following a one-year matriculation cycle tracked over two semesters and a summer, and others choosing a two-year schedule. "What we have noticed over time," said program faculty member Dr. Joe Winslow, "is that moving the M.Ed. program online has drastically reduced the amount of time it takes graduate students to complete their degree, not because it's easier, but because it's more accessible." Concerns about modality rigor are misplaced, he continued, "there is ample scholarly evidence that validates online learning as comparable or better then classroom learning in some disciplines," citing a 2014 research report on online college students as one of many supporting documents. "The best practices in online pedagogy are now well known, so we've adapted our instruction to accommodate these methods in the modality that teachers prefer."
No doubt the popularity of the program is also augmented by institutional support in the form of discounted tuition for full-time South Carolina teachers, an incentive that was recently extended statewide to compete with other institutions. "Today's teachers have choices," noted Dickerson, "and to compete against larger brands, our strategy is to package our curriculum as value-based. Our students receive high quality instruction at a great rate, completely online."
For more information about the M.Ed. program, or to apply, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies.