2017 Ranking: The best educational technology degrees

Best Education Degrees, the leading guide to educational careers and colleges, has published its rankings of the 50 Best Master’s in Educational Technology Degrees.

Technology can be used to close longstanding achievement gaps, provide personalized learning paths for exceptional students, and address academic weaknesses before they become a problem. In fact, technology could radically transform almost everything we know about education.

“EdTech has a lot of promise, but here’s the catch,” Nick Sadowski, managing editor of Best Education Degrees, said. “Technology is only useful when educators know how to use it. “That’s where this ranking comes in. These degrees prepare teachers and administrators to make effective use of the latest in EdTech.”

Best Education Degrees examined both student success and institutional excellence in order to compile this ranking. Institutional excellence is calculated by measuring factors such as endowment size, reputation, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and incoming students test scores. Student success is calculated by measuring average financial aid packages, tuition costs, average starting salary for graduates, and student indebtedness at graduation. Data comes from IPEDS, PayScale, U.S. News and World Report, and individual college websites.


The first-place finisher for the Best Master’s in Educational Technology Degrees is Florida State University. Ohio State University is second, and Arizona State University is third.

This is the complete list of schools appearing on the Best Master’s in Educational Technology Degrees ranking:

Appalachian State University, Boone, NC

Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Boise State University, Boise, ID

Concordia University, Chicago, IL

Concordia University, St. Paul, MN

Concordia University-Wisconsin, Mequon, WI

Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN

Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI

Emporia State University, Emporia, KS

Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Kansas State University, Jonesboro, AR

Kent State University, Kent, OH

Minnesota State University, Mankato, Mankato, MN

New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, NY

Robert Morris University, Moon Township, PA

St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN

SUNY at Albany, Albany, NY

SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY

SUNY College at Potsdam, Potsdam, NY

Teachers College at Columbia University, New York, NY

Texas State University, San Marcos, TX

The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR

University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO

University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

University of Dayton, Dayton, OH

University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

University of Georgia, Athens, GA

University of Houston, Houston, TX

University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN

University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC

University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC

University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND

University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA

University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

University of South Carolina Columbia, SC

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA

Waynesburg University, Detroit, MI

Webster University, Webster Groves, MO

Western Kentucky University, Salt Lake City, UT

Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

Best Education Degrees is an authoritative guide to colleges and careers in education. It is designed to assist current and future educational professionals who want to deepen their knowledge and training in the field. Consulting the rankings and articles at Best Education Degrees, education students and professionals can grow in their skills, excel in their careers, and deepen their impact on their communities.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Reversing the trend: Why colleges and universities must encourage employer sponsorship

As a new academic year commences, I find myself reviewing our new cohorts. Historically, our postgraduate student body has over 90 percent in full time employment, with these subdivided into self-funding individuals and employer-funded candidates.

Recently this latter segment has been on the rise, despite some findings around the internet indicating otherwise:

The days of a big company saying OK, we are going to fund five students every year for a set number of years…those kind of days are pretty much over,” says Richard Johnson, associate dean for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business EMBA program.

Michael Desidero, executive director for the Executive MBA Council, notes: “The trend for companies to shy away from picking up the full study tab is not going to suddenly reverse in the coming years.”

Why Are the Numbers Increasing for Us?

Employers from various sectors and of different sizes contact us to discuss potential mass enrollment of their staff onto our programs. Until recently, training and staff development was delivered internally, often by in-house staff or brought in experts. Reductions in budget have led employers to question the value of this traditional approach.

In addition, education providers have started designing programs that have increased relevance to the real world; programs comprised not only of academic content, but also higher level graduate skills that will be of actual worth in the workplace.

New themes such as data analytics and ethical management can be included within other more traditional areas such as marketing, project management, and general business programs, thus ensuring that maximum value is gained.

Previously, these program attributes were only found in better quality MBAs. However, at my institution for example, these components are included within each postgraduate program–not as some clumsy bolt-on, but as inherent facets seamlessly blended into the core content and assessment strategies.

Teaching teams which combine academic expertise with a plethora of industry experience help to add real clarity to the teaching and learning continuum. This, coupled with assessments that require application of theory to reality via case studies, truly helps with the development of praxis.

Budget Considerations

Returning to budgetary issues: employers find it hard to justify releasing staff from increasingly lean businesses for the sake of study. Distance learning gives students the flexibility to fit study around their personal and work commitments. Whilst undoubtedly the occasional compromise is required, the reality is that graduating with a postgraduate qualification whilst juggling family and full time work is possible.

In closing, employers require maximum return from their investment. Programs that in reality provided very little in terms of real world ‘industry up-skilling’ are of no attraction to the increasingly savvy employer base.

To remain attractive, education providers must create and offer genuinely useful programs that are relevant to the needs of industry, are not one-size-fits-all, and that can be delivered in innovative and flexible ways – allowing employers to keep staff at their posts for as long as possible.


6 best practices for launching or growing your online programs

Online learning is entering its next phase of maturity and growth. And although we’re clearly not at the point where online learning can be considered a “mature” industry, enough edtech companies have entered the market and enough online programs are being offered that higher education leaders are looking for strategies to effectively launch or grow online programs for this new era.

Specifically, deans, faculty members, and other college and university leaders are seeking new approaches to increase enrollment in online programs, help individuals attain degrees and improve their professional lives, and extend their reach. In addition, these institutional leaders are looking for better ways to differentiate, expand, and structure their online offerings.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with six key considerations that we believe can help serve as a guide to help your institution thrive in this next phase of online program growth:

1. Defining and Structuring Your Programs: The core of a college or university is creating new knowledge and disseminating that knowledge through teaching. With this in mind, the unique strengths of a school must be reflected in its online programs. By taking a hard look at your school’s academic strengths, you can identify programs, concentrations, and even key faculty members that can help your programs stand out in the market.

For example, Pearson Online Learning Services recently helped Bradley University with its online mental health counseling program. In working with the school, Pearson discovered that a Bradley faculty member had a strong online presence as a blogger for Psychology Today. As a result, that professor was showcased in the online offering, which has helped raise awareness and increase enrollment.

Another way your program’s definition and structure can improve your position in the market is by paying close attention to when the program is offered. For example, if a working professional wants to enroll in an online program, but you only offer a required course every two years, your schedule may not work for the student–and he or she may look elsewhere for a more convenient online program.

2. Setting Your Tuition and Fees: Students, as consumers of education, are increasingly interested in the cost of a degree. Tuition setting strategy begins with the consideration of each institution’s peers and competitors.

When taking a program online, Pearson works with an institution to establish the appropriate peer group of institutions as prospective students typically employ a nationwide consideration set when evaluating online programs. This benchmarking effort has the potential to indicate if an institution’s pricing structure may be sub-optimal.

At times these data suggest raising tuition pricing, which was the case with a well-regarded MBA program offered by a public university. Conversely, our analysis recently suggested that a nursing program offered by a private institution would optimally be priced lower, given the university’s ambition to grow on a national scale.

Both programs have been well-received by highly qualified students and their enrollment growth has out-paced expectations.

3. Establishing Appropriate Admissions Requirements: Universities and colleges are taking a fresh look at what indicators are the best predictors of student success in their programs. For many years, standardized tests were taken as a given in the application process, but as more and more people pursue second careers and seek degrees later in life, institutions are rethinking this approach.

As a result, more and more programs look at a multitude of factors and, in some cases, no longer require standardized test scores.

Building an admissions process that selectively waives test scores can mean more work for the admissions committee, but it can result in a class or cohort that is more diverse, more mature, and equally successful in the program. The university opens itself up to a broader set of qualified adult degree-seeking professionals who may otherwise be dissuaded by being asked to take a standardized test after many years outside of higher education.

(Next page: 3 more best practices for your online programs)


Video: Find the learning in ANY game

Ed. note: Video picks are supplied by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to watch the video at Common Sense Education.

Video Description: Every game has potential for learning. Consider the educational value in some of the more popular, entertainment-focused games that your students (and you!) already enjoy at home. Of course, not all games are school-appropriate, but you can approach any game from an educational perspective. Think of games as experiences rather than instruction–as field trips, not textbooks. It’s a perspective that’s as valuable for students as it is for teachers. To learn more about using games in the classroom, visit our collection, Find the Learning in Any Game.



Student: 3 components of a non-traditional pathway that will work for my career

“College is the only option if you want a real job, a real career, if you want to make something of yourself,” said every parent in the US since forever. For anyone growing up in this country, it’s become a truism passed down from generation to generation. Sure, a generation or so ago, there were solid blue collar jobs that could lead to good life, but a “college job” was the brass ring.

And we are also made to believe that the more prestigious the school, the better job options you will have in the future. Well, I have news for you; it’s not true, or at least not as true as it once was.

My Story

I was the responsible child. I listened to my parents and society and went to a traditional four-year college (after first attending a Junior college to save money) where I graduated with a degree in Liberal & Civic Studies with a minor in Montessori. I wanted to become a teacher, motivator, someone to change the world for good.

Of course to afford college I took out student loans, leaving me $37,000 in debt even before I graduated (and, by the way, I know millions of students graduate with far more debt).

I was one of the lucky ones, or at least I thought so at the time. I found a job as an Account Relationship Manager at a small, family-owned business where I helped more than ten brokers with their clients. I wrote reports, answered phone calls and emails from clients, ran a weekly firm-wide meeting, trained new hires, and electronically archived documents.

While at first I was excited for the opportunity and enjoyed learning on the job, as time went on I was becoming less and less interested in my job. What had I gotten myself into?

While I was still with the company I made friends with the IT person who taught me about the machines in the server room and how our email security worked; and it fascinated me. He inspired me to leave my job and to look for something that more suited my intellect and drive.

(Next page: The non-traditional components that worked better)


Colleges of Distinction challenges trend of one-size-fits-all academic rankings

Challenging the traditional “best college” rankings trend as a simplistic approach to evaluating colleges, Colleges of Distinction (CoD) releases its 2018 guidebook this week. Rather than looking at rankings to find the “best college,” the guide spotlights schools that deliver the richest classroom experiences.

The 2018 Colleges of Distinction Guidebook features school evaluations based on what research suggests is crucial to collegiate success and student satisfaction-the student experience. While other services churn out rankings based on publicly available information and statistics like acceptance rates and reputation, CoD says they conduct extensive research and campus interviews to answer, “Where are the best places to learn, grow and succeed?”

“While others focus on prestige, we focus on what matters to students: getting the richest college experience possible,” says Tyson Schritter, CoD’s chief operating officer. “We enable students to find the right schools for themselves, not the mythical best schools.”

The 500-page 2018 Colleges of Distinction Guidebook, available on Amazon, features profiles of almost 400 universities and colleges that use methods such as community-based learning or writing-intensive courses centered on long-term student satisfaction and success. CoD staff members conduct campus visits and in-depth interviews with college executives, program directors, faculty, students and others about how they deliver world-class student experiences.

“Colleges aren’t commodities–they’re as diverse as the needs of today’s students,” Schritter says. “No single ranking can account for what’s most important to each individual student applying to college in a given year.”

CoD’s methodology is supported by research from the Pew Charitable Trust, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education and others. The methodology is anchored in practices tied to high student success and engagement, sustained employment in an unstable job market, and lifelong learning for students from different socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, says CoD.

“The Colleges of Distinction college guide presents institutions of higher learning that have distinguished themselves in several areas that are more important to student success and satisfaction than the well-publicized rankings,” says Deborah Blanchard, Christian Brothers University’s vice president of communications and marketing.

CoD also looks for schools that have a proven record in the following four key areas:

– Engaged Students: GPAs and standardized test scores are important, but COD looks for students who are engaged inside and outside the classroom. Students compete in sports, volunteer, conduct independent research and study abroad. They are not just thinkers; they are doers.

Great Teaching: These schools have professors who know students by name, are committed to seeing them succeed and are experts in their fields. Students learn in environments that encourage reading, writing, research and interaction. That way, students learn to analyze problems, think creatively, work in teams and communicate effectively.

Vibrant Communities: A rich living-and-learning environments on and off campus is a key area for COD. Colleges offer a variety of residential options, clubs and organizations to satisfy every interest. They have cultural and social opportunities and avenues for leadership, character and spiritual development. They provide ways for students to be involved in the surrounding community.

– Successful Outcomes: The schools have a record of graduating satisfied, productive alumni who make their mark in business, medicine, law, education, public service and other fields. In terms of the return on investment, these schools are outstanding values.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Video: 3 ways to battle digital distraction in the classroom

Ed. note: Video picks are supplied by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to watch the video at Common Sense Education.

Video Description: Digital devices put the world at our students’ fingertips, whether with their own cell phones or with school-provided computers and tablets. But along with opportunities for powerful learning come the risks–and realities–of distraction. So, what are the best ways to manage digital distraction in the classroom? Check out these practical tips on supporting students and modeling productive 21st-century learning. For more ways to manage classroom technology, check out Common Sense Education’s collection Dealing with Digital Distraction in the Classroom.



Professor: My biggest problem with online teaching

Depending on where I am teaching, I have varying levels of input and control over online course design. In a face-to-face classroom, I have complete control over material and the setting of learning. I am confident about information the students receive and the structure they receive it in. Essentially, I know what they should know because I know what I’ve emphasized. But the online classroom structure challenges that.

With online learning, I know the material they know, but I am always a bit unsure if they know the emphasis of it. Online learning removes my ability to frame conversations, to reinforce important ideas; it takes away my stamp on the classroom.

At times, I am simultaneously a learner and instructor within a course. This gives me some sensitivity to student discombobulation in the online classroom and allowed the article “5 Techniques To Help You Step Inside The Shoes Of Your Online Learners” by Nipun Sharma to ring true with me.

Student Individualization; Inward Reflection

Sharma addresses interaction with students online in 2 broad ways.

The general theme of his work focuses on seeing students as unique individuals and tailoring your work in response.

As institutions create one-size classroom models, instructors must conversely seek to personalize it to the student. Sharma recommends knowing your students on a personal level. By seeking to understand the motives, backstories, and opinions of the students in your course, instructors can intentionally break down the inherent walls of the online format. Things you would glean from meeting students face-to-face and interacting with them are important; the online instructor must make an effort to learn this information.

After addressing instructors’ external actions, Sharma challenges individuals to some inward reflection. He discusses the idea that online instructors must acknowledge their assumptions and start each student with a clean slate.

Sharma states that you may not know you hold assumptions, but they can critically change your practice. His focus is on how your assumptions impact students understanding content, but his words struck a chord with me in my dealings with student issues. What assumptions do I bring about student behavior in the online classroom? What do I think a good online student looks like, and how does that viewpoint impact my evaluation of them?

In multiple classes, I have had struggling students divulge personal situations that have prevented them from succeeding in the class. Often times, these are 2-3 weeks after they have ceased participating. During that time, I have usually assumed they have simply quit the class.  Without a face or identity to associate with them, they exist as a name to me.

Once I hear their stories, I am always jolted to the reality that they are people.

The Greatest Challenge

This is one of the greatest difficulties of online coursework: depersonalization. I must constantly resist the notion of seeing my students as just a name. I need to work to give them traits and identities that build them as true individuals to me. That prompts me to work harder for them as people rather than simply dismissing them as statistics.

This lesson can also translate the face-to-face classroom. I often silo face-to-face classroom work from online coursework. They feel so different to me that I have trouble building bridges between them.

But, I must seek to take the best part of both and bring it into both settings. I certainly tailor the class to my goals, but perhaps not the students. Maybe my course is only personalized to me.

At his/her core, a student is someone who has made a conscious choice to better themselves. Building my practice from that identity in all learning settings will make me a better teacher.


6 musts when selecting an A+ identity and access management solution

Summer is over, and most colleges and universities are back in session. As with every year, the biggest challenge for IT departments presents itself during the lead-up to the first day of class and the first couple of weeks that follow. Unlike other industries, the education sector has specific identity and access management (IAM) needs. Provisioning accounts for new students and teachers, de-provisioning accounts of students and staff who have left, providing users secure access to the right resources, frequently changing users’ roles, and tracking changes to meet regulatory requirements are just the start.

With IT becoming an important part of the classroom, choosing an IAM solution that can meet all these demands is crucial for the day-to-day function of colleges and universities. Here are some pointers to keep in mind while shopping for an IAM solution that’s a fit for the education industry.

1. Dynamically Provision Accounts for Students 

User life cycle management in the education industry is complex due to the large number of students who come and go each year. Admins need to be able to deprovision and provision a bulk of users in a short period of time. An added complexity is that accounts must be provisioned for users across Active Directory, cloud applications, and e-learning programs.

When choosing an IAM solution, make sure it has bulk provisioning and deprovisioning capabilities. Some tools let admins dynamically provision users in bulk either by importing a CSV file containing student information or through templates specifically designed for user creation. Also, the solution must support provisioning across multiple platforms such as Active Directory, Exchange, G Suite, Office 365 and more.

2. Securely Control Who Has Access to What Applications

Another top priority should be ensuring that students and staff have access to applications—with just the right amount of privilege. Students change their schedule from time to time. Teachers could be reassigned to a different class. Capturing all these changes and making necessary adjustments in users’ group memberships within Active Directory is important.

To meet this requirement, the IAM solution should have granular group management capabilities in Active Directory. Automating or delegating group membership management through a predefined approval workflow feature will also help.

3. Less Logging In, More Learning

Keeping track of passwords is a challenging task, even for adults. The problem is exacerbated in the education sector as younger students are tasked with remembering multiple passwords. As a result, teachers end up spending valuable class hours assisting students with their forgotten passwords and login issues.

The IAM solution should have single sign-on capabilities, allowing students to log in once with one username and one password and have access to multiple applications. If the solution uses Active Directory as its authentication source, then it becomes even easier to manage users’ identities and control access permissions to cloud apps through organizational units and group-based security policies.

(Next page: 3 more tips for choosing an identity and access management solution)


3 ways community colleges can slash costs with this technology

Higher education is experiencing more turbulence than ever before–changing and making business and finance models increasingly complex. As it stands now, higher education systems operate off a combination of tuition, philanthropy, investments, public funding and research dollars.

Yet, with enrollment patterns steadily declining and both state and federal funding decreasing, colleges and universities nationwide are struggling to keep education affordable for students, while also maintaining revenue and enrollment levels.

Where does this hit the hardest? Smaller community colleges outside of major urban areas can have less access to capital, so they suffer more financially than their four-year university counterparts. As the majority of community colleges are public institutions or not-for-profit organizations, they rely almost completely on state funding for their entire budget and annual planning.

In fact, community colleges often do not have the same luxury of receiving research dollars, endowments or generous alumni donations, as their students often only attend for a couple of years before moving on to the workforce or other educational systems.

For them, an ever-decreasing financial pie gets stretched even further. Determining a strategy on how to make up for that revenue loss is absolutely crucial for their future. Without an effective and sustainable financial structure, community colleges will fall behind in this volatile education market, which is where cloud technology can help.

Cloud technology can provide:

1. Visibility into governing dollars: Higher education systems, because of their funding structures, often operate as separate governing entities – responsible for their own financial planning and reporting. However, too many community colleges are still relying on spreadsheets and are not properly equipped to provide the high-level financial reporting needed to create in-depth profit and loss statements, which makes it nearly impossible to clearly outline allocations of their funds for stakeholders and even enrolled students.

With cloud-based enterprise performance management (EPM) solutions that take scenario planning to a new level, community colleges are better able to meet statutory and management reporting requirements, providing increased visibility into where funding is coming from, how much they are receiving, any tuition changes and fluctuating student aid amounts. This helps them to become more efficient and effective with timely allocation of public and private dollars.

(Next page: 2 more ways cloud technology cuts costs)