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Next spring the Kansas University Edwards Campus will roll out a new master's program in educational technology, KU announced on Tuesday.
The new degree will be offered through the KU School of Education, which also offers degrees in educational technology at the Lawrence campus It will aim largely at helping professionals gain skills in writing and designing online resources for organizational training and education, the university said.
Those going through the program will be able to choose from a slew of multidisciplinary courses in education, communications, engineering and other fields, said David Cook, vice chancellor of the Edwards campus. Though students have flexibility to choose classes, a core feature of the program will be technological specialization.
Cook said businesses have told him "over and over that there's a real market and a real need" for those with skills in educational technology. In the private and public sectors, demand is growing for workers who can fill jobs such as instructional designers, courseware developers, distance education specialists, educational technologists and webmasters, Cook said.
Rick Ginsberg, dean of the KU education school, said the program grew out of an assessment of business and educational needs in the region that included focus groups with Kansas City-based companies such as Cerner.
The assessment found that with the rapid growth of digital education technologies and their use in the business sector, there was a demand for workers equipped to design and operate those technologies. "Technology is infecting all aspects of our culture," Ginsberg said. "Businesses have a need for people who understand the technology."
The program, which will admit about 20 students a year, is supported partly through the Johnson County Education Research Triangle sales tax, a one-eighth-cent tax that generates about $15 million annually for higher education programs as well as cancer and food safety research in Johnson County.
Money from the Research Triangle tax will fund faculty salaries, a faculty adviser and some scholarships for students in the educational technology program.