What has influenced the growth of online distance education degree programs? The current rapid growth of distance education as well as e-learning has occurred in both private and public tertiary education level. In addition, organization and business are also expanding their training opportunities through e-learning opportunities. As you can imagine, open and distance learning has refocused higher education, making college degrees more flexible and accessible to more students, traditional and non-traditional. For instance, self-paced educational opportunities are more available for working adults and parents with young children. Information and communication technologies have made much of this possible, in addition to extensive research in education and instruction.
Distance Learning Education and Training
Online distance learning programs use a blend of online and multimedia technologies to provide various instructional strategies using current technological applications, approaches, and breakthrough instructional methodologies. As online education becomes a part of postsecondary and tertiary education, the demand is increasing for educators who are specifically trained to develop, manage, and coordinate distance-learning programs.
Online distance education degree programs vary in structure but typical courses may include: Distance education theories, distance education models, instructional design, curriculum design, adult learning theory, instructional strategies for online instruction, e-learning design, multimedia design, program assessment and evaluation, project management, educational psychology, and courses related to educational management.
Distance educators typically hold a graduate-level degree in education. Distance education programs are available at the master’s or doctoral-degree level. Typical onliine distance education degree programs at the graduate level include:
- M.S. in distance education
- M.S. in Instructional design with a concentration in e-learning
- M.S. in instructional systems technology
- M.S. in Instructional technology
Careers in Distance Learning
What can you do with an online distance education degree? Distance educators teach online courses, instructional design teaching strategies and online curricula depending on the particular program, and they also research and evaluate program effectiveness. With the fast pace of technology change, distance educators must also remain on top of new technologies and educational research.
The trends in distance learning trend are creating a demand for qualified professionals to work as subject matter experts, curriculum designer, multimedia design, instructional developers, and e-learning specialists.
Earning a degree in distance education will prepare you with comprehensive and practical knowledge that is needed to work in the distance education enterprise in the military, non-profit organizations, K-12 education, traditional colleges and universities, online colleges and universities, business, and government. Some of the roles of distance educators are:
- Leadership and change management
- Developing strategic goals for distance learning in an organization
- Designing, implementing, and assessing support services for distance education programs
- Analyzing and recommending distance education technology plans
- Managing implementation of technology in distance learning delivery
Graduates of online distance education degree programs work in curriculum design, educational technology development, distance education policy, and distance learning management. They also teach courses online. Some jobs in distance education are: Online instruction coordination, distance learning librarian, production management, distance learning project management, multimedia design, etc.
Estimated Income and Projected Career Outlook
According to the United States Department of Labor, opportunities for postsecondary teachers remain positive, especially with the expansion of online distance education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 235 from 2006-2016. In general, postsecondary educators earn a median salary of $56,120 and instructors earn about $42,609.
The median annual wage of training and development managers was $89,170 in 2010. The lowest 10% earned less than $50,470, and the top 10% earned more than $148,950.
The employment is expected to grow 15% from 2010 to 2020.
The median annual wage of instructional coordinators was $58,830 in 2010. The lowest 10% earned less than $33,490, and the top 10% earned more than $93,080.
Employment of instructional coordinators is expected to grow by 20% from 2010 to 2020.
The median annual wage of technical writers was $63,280 in 2010. The lowest 10% earned less than $37,160, and the highest 10% earned more than $100,910. The employment of technical writers is expected to grow 17% from 2010 to 2020.
The following are other positions and estimated median income based on the position:
- Instructional Technology Specialist – $51,466
- Instructional Designer – $59,000 – $67,000
- Educational Technologist – $49,000
Administrative jobs in higher education should increase by about 12% from 2006-2016. The average salary for postsecondary administrators is around $85,870 and for program directors the average is over $67,000. Online distance education degree will therefore continue to play an important role with the growth and development of online distance learning.
Distance Education Programs
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