Technology and education are a powerful combination, for students and educators alike. Online learning is expanding our educational horizons every day, and Dr. Drew Ross is at the forefront of that expansion as the Dean of the School of Graduate Education at Kaplan University. In this blog, Dr. Ross shares some of the powerful ways that technology is changing business and education and talks about the growing need for "instructional technologists."
BlogHer: How has your background in education led to where you are today?
Dr. Drew Ross:
For the last 20 years, I have worked at the intersection of learning and technology. This connection between two powerful ideas gave me the chance to explore how educators can improve student experiences in classrooms and outside of classrooms. I have also been lucky enough to work with students from the doctoral level all the way down to pre-kindergarten, and this breadth has given me a great perspective on how people learn.
My own dissertation work was all about how people create communities online to help themselves learn really difficult subjects. And, through this work, I discovered the innovative work The Washington Post Company was doing through Kaplan University.
What are some of the key trends in education today?
Moving from static sources like traditional textbooks to vivid and interactive resources is one trend that has been around for a while, but is really picking up steam. I think our view of what constitutes a textbook will be completely different in 10 years.
Another big trend is crowdsourcing, and I think there is great potential for educators to make use of this idea in what they do. Crowdsourcing is really what we have talked about for years as "co-creation," and is something that lots of learning theories favor, so the idea that we have taken this established concept of co-creation and migrated it online and turned it into crowdsourcing makes it a lot more powerful.
What are some of the hottest careers right now?
Instructional technology is a big one. For those of us in the School of Graduate Education, it's one of our primary focuses in 2012, as well. The best thing about instructional technology is that it's a very adaptable skill set. We have specializations in our Master of Science in Education in Instructional Technology degree that teach students to use instructional technology skills in traditional educational environments like schools and universities, but also a specialization for people who want to work in HR or training for a corporation, a not-for-profit organization, or even the military. It's a really wide-ranging career that gives people lots of opportunities.
What motivates you? What makes you passionate about your job?
I'm motivated by knowing that what I am doing in my career affects real people with real jobs, who in turn are making a direct impact on the lives of hundreds or thousands of learners of their own. Teachers and instructors, college leaders and instructional technologists all make use of their skills in environments where they touch a huge number of lives—and that makes me excited, as well as reminds me that it's important for us to get things right when we teach these future professionals.
Kaplan University provides a practical, student-centered education that prepares individuals for careers in some of the fastest-growing industries. The University, which has its main campus in Davenport, Iowa, and its headquarters in Chicago, is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (www.ncahlc.org). It serves more than 53,000 online and campus-based students. The University has 11 campuses in Iowa, Nebraska, Maryland and Maine, and Kaplan University Learning Centers in Maryland, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri and Florida.
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