How to Become an Instructional Technology Professional

David Carbonara is a professor and the director of instructional technology at Duquesne University. He earned his EdD in science education with a minor in educational research and methodology at the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include instructional technology coaching, growing from management to leadership roles in instructional technology, and documenting the teaching-learning process in online environments, to name a few. In 2006, David won the Apple Polishing Award.

What is instructional technology?

Instructional Technology (IT) is the study of the integration of technology into the teaching process. Educational technology is the integration of technology into the learning process. IT implies an understanding of pedagogy and learning theory.

What do you find most interesting about instructional technology?

It is dynamic. The goal is to help our students learn and that always fascinates me. Our role as teachers is to find ways to help our students learn.

What is your least favorite aspect of instructional technology?

I really do not have a least favorite aspect, but a divergent one is the area of instructional technology management. Here we are concerned about budgets, policies, and interaction with administrators in a learning institution. This aspect makes for a divergent and complex field.

Are there subfields of instructional technology that students might not be aware of?

The management aspect I mentioned above is one. Also, the area of distance or online learning is opening quickly. One must be concerned with online learning also. Here we have to distinguish between asynchronous and synchronous learning: two different modes that require education and implementation.

Students should also be aware of the design and evaluation portions of our field.

What careers do students commonly pursue with a degree in instructional technology?

Some return to their K-12 classrooms, and others become instructional technology specialists in a building or in a district. Others move to corporate training centers. Still others are in higher ed as support specialists for learning management systems. Some move to design fields in higher ed and corporate. Some become online educators.

Is a graduate degree preferable for a career in instructional technology, or can someone enter the field with a bachelor’s degree?

Currently, most of the institutions are at the master’s degree level. That is because a person usually acquires an education degree or a degree in a field of study such as business or biology.

What personality traits do you think a student should have in order to be successful in an instructional technology program?

Communication and collaboration are top on the list of traits. They have to be open to both technology and pedagogy and realize that it is not the technology that is paramount in the field, but the integration of technology with content that improves student learning.

What electives would you recommend that a student in an instructional technology program take?

The programs are usually well designed with technology and then learning theory. They also need assessment skills. Three areas come to mind: ESL, special ed, and online instruction.

What study tips would you give to a student to help him or her succeed in an instructional technology program?

Practice and ask questions. Do some work individually and other work in a group.

Do you think instructional technology is a subject that can be studied online, or is a traditional class environment ideal?

Online synchronously, yes.

What subjects should a prospective student of instructional technology study before entering a formal college program?

They should have a content background in any field. They need the content to use to build lessons. Then, they need learning theory and pedagogy.

What pieces of advice, or caution, would you offer to a prospective student of instructional technology?

This is an exciting field. Stay with it if it is in your heart.