The Future of Technology and Engineering Higher Education: Growing More T&E Programs Begins by Having High-Quality K-12 Programs That Showcase the Best of What We Do and Attract Students to Be the Future Teachers of the Profession

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What does the future of higher education look like for technology and engineering education? Technology and Engineering Teacher asked four education experts to share their thoughts en questions that are pertinent in determining the directions that the field will take in the decade ahead.

What effect will the education programs of online universities such as the University of Phoenix have on technology and engineering undergraduate and graduate programs?

LRM: Institutions of higher education (IHEs) recognize the need to diversify their instructional delivery systems in order to reach larger audiences. Contemporary and future student populations are demanding and will continue to expect access to accredited programs that are offered both asynchronously and synchronously at a distance from the traditional college campus venues. Post-secondary degree programs that are offered either wholly or partially through distance education systems are not going to disappear--it is likely that their numbers will continue to increase for all types of IHEs and across all academic disciplines. Technology and engineering (T&E) education undergraduate curricula should be structured in ways so that content can be offered through a series of hybrid course formats. Introductory courses demand more face-to-face contact hours as students develop familiarity with complex concepts and learn new technical skills. When they progress into intermediate and advanced level courses, the percentage of time spent in the actual laboratory with the professor in real time might be supplanted with simulations, media, and online discussions. Graduate level T&E courses can largely be taught via distance and distributed learning formats, but (in my mind) some portion of those masters' and doctoral programs (perhaps 20-25%) must still enable candidates to interact with their instructor(s) and with each other in ways that allow for true collaboration through real-time, creative arguments and discussions. Essentially, if T&E higher education faculty members resist the push to "hybridize" their course delivery systems, they will soon be phased out of their teaching appointments.

CM: The University of Phoenix, in my opinion, will not affect technology and engineering teacher preparation, i.e., undergraduate programs, because the degree is not offered. However, the University of Phoenix does offer initial degree programs leading to teacher certification (certain states only) in other school subject areas. When examining post-baccalaureate degree programs, e.g., administration and supervision, curriculum and instruction, and teacher leadership, the University of Phoenix could certainly have a large impact on practicing technology and engineering teachers seeking advanced degrees. In addition to the online degree options through the University of Phoenix, the university states that it has "locations within 10 miles of 87 million Americans" for those wanting a face-to-face approach. There are universities that are offering 100% online education for technology and engineering education, e.g., Ball State University at the graduate level and Valley City State University at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Valley City State University is likely the most notable program in the United States to the technology and engineering education community.

Regardless of whether one chooses an online or face-to-face program to become certified in T&E education or is seeking an advanced degree in the field, I would suggest a university that has exceptional laboratory facilities, is accredited by NCATE/ ITEENCTETE, has a curriculum grounded in the technological literacy standards, has an active professional preservice teacher education chapter such as TEECA, infuses T&E preservice or practicing teachers in the public schools early and often throughout the degree program, and has a professionally active faculty.

ER: Although there seems to be an abundance of "online universities" in the U. …