Developing an Online Master of Education in Educational Technology in a Learning Paradigm: The Process and the Product

Article excerpt

The political process necessary for planning and implementing a new degree program at Northern Arizona University (NAU), The Educational Technology Master of Education (M. Ed.), began in the spring of 1997. The program was finally discussed and approved by the Arizona Board of Regents at their February, 2000 meeting. However, over the three years of establishing the program, it became much more than just a political or academic task. As the process of research, discussion, and reflection was experienced while searching for an ideal M. Ed. in Educational Technology program, current struggles with new pedagogies and new approaches were exemplified. The program development became living proof that changes in thinking and doing come over time, not in a day, or a week, or even a year. As the developers struggled to articulate to each other what they believed to be important, they became what can only be hoped for students in this new program: uncomfortable learners who stretched their minds and pushed the envelope s of their comfort zones to complete an engaging and meaningful task.

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In the spring of 1997, planning was begun on an Educational Technology Master of Education (M. Ed.) degree in the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) at Northern Arizona University (NAU). By the fall of 1997, tentative syllabi for the eight courses that would be the core content of the degree had been completed by the Educational Technology faculty. The process of gaining university approval was initiated by submitting the program description and course syllabi to the Educational Specialties faculty, the department in which Educational Technology resides. After faculty approval, the program description and syllabi were submitted to the GEE Curriculum Committee and then finally to the NAU Graduate Curriculum Committee. All courses and the program had final approval by the end of the fall 1997 semester.

The next step was to gain Planning Authority for a new program from the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). Educational Technology faculty completed the necessary forms in the early spring of 1998 and sent them to the NAU provost for approval and then to the ABOR for consideration at their June, 1998 meeting. At this meeting, the ABOR identified issues of concern about the degree and authorized the creation of an Implementation Proposal. Early in the fall of 1998 a meeting was held that included the Educational Technology faculty, the Educational Specialties department chairperson, the dean of the CEE, and the NAU provost. At this meeting the stakeholders identified the issues of concern established by the ABOR and devised a strategy to address those issues in the Implementation Proposal. The Implementation Proposal was completed in the fall of 1998, was sent to the NAU provost, and went on the agenda for the February, 1999 ABOR meeting for further discussion and approval.

That is the political process necessary for planning and implementing a new program at NAU, but the M. Ed. in Educational Technology became more than a political or academic task. It was a labor of love, born of hours of heartfelt discussion about ideas and ideals, of reflections shared in the wee hours of the morning. The philosophical and theoretical underpinning presented here supports the Implementation Proposal that went before the ABOR, but it is, for the authors, much more...

PROBLEM STATEMENT

At the end of the millennium in which the idea of the university has blossomed, population growth is outpacing the world's capacity to give people access to universities. A sizable new university would now be needed every week merely to sustain current participation rates in higher education. New institutions are not being created at this frequency. A crisis of access lies ahead....the world's educators should aim to ensure that all people can develop their potential in the essentially unlimited domain of human skill and intellect. …