Online Learning Professionals: The Gap between Trends, Constituency Knowledge and Career Expectations

Concurrent Session 6

Brief Abstract

Many Ed Tech professionals enter the field as  an employment opportunity, a use of their discrete skills, or a transition to another livelihood. Even with academic training there may be gaps in skills or foundational knowledge, or a realistic understanding of career opportunities.  How do we support those new to the field?


Patricia (Rikki) McGee is Associate Professor, Emerita at the University of Texas at San Antonio and Dissertation Mentor/Complementary Faculty at Walden University. She has coordinated three academic programs (instructional technology, adult and higher education and digital learning design) and has overseen multiple faculty development initiatives. Her research focuses on online learning and teaching,specifically pedagogy and faculty supports. She has had multiple fellowships, with EDUCAUSE and ASEE, and received a USDLA award for Online Technology.

Extended Abstract

  • What specific EdTech career issue, challenge or opportunity will the proposed Career Forum address? (The proposal should lead with a clear statement of an issue, challenge or opportunity of significance.) While many Ed Tech professionals enter the field with a passion and education, others often fall into it based on employment opportunity, discrete skills, or a transition to another livelihood. Women particularly enter the field for a variety of reasons and may receive less encouragement and support Even when a professional has completed a degree or various certifications, there may be gaps in skills or foundational knowledge,much less a realistic understanding of career opportunities. The challenge is how can those entering the field find the guidance they need for continued growth, mentoring and decision-making about career goals?

  • Who is the target audience for this Career Forum? (Example target audiences might include faculty (full-time and adjunct), university administrators, instructional design professionals, consultants, and entrepreneurs.) Students, faculty, staff

  • What major discussion points will be covered? Do these points reflect contemporary EdTech trends and issues? Do they connect with current workforce innovation trends or opportunities? For many institutions here are gaps between online learning trends,  constituency literacy of online learning technology, programmatic readiness to adopt online learning, and decision-maker’s priorities. How does a novice professional figure out how to navigate through them? For smaller institutions, online learning units may be small, isolated, and unconnected to a larger community.  How can these professionals find the support, mentoring and just-in-need directions they may need? While professional organizations can offer training, reliable resources, trends, and networking, new professionals may not have the funds, time or wherewithal to join or be active participants. How can a professional create their own personal learning network that is based on trends and constituency status quo? Opportunities for advanced may be limited in online learning units and some professionals may see an advanced degree as an option for moving to a new level. In the event a novice professional wants to advance her career, where does she go to figure out what opportunities exist (certifications, micro-credentials, etc.) and if the investment  is likely to help her achieve her goals? 

  • A brief discussion protocol would be useful to include:

    • General Introduction to Topic

    • Our goal is to identify barriers to professional career advancement and for each ibarrier dentify a specific strategy that can be taken by a new professional, a faculty member or a staff member to guide and support.

  • What specific career-related takeaways (e.g., lessons learned, resources) will the Career Forum attendees glean from their participation? Clearly articulated steps and or strategies that beginning professionals and experienced faculty/staff can take to further the successful career stages. All session notes will be captured using online tools.