As someone who doesn’t actually hold a teaching position or work in instructional design, the inclusion of educational technology in my professional practice is born from the need to keep my knowledge up to date within my area of expertise. Working in the field of student financial aid involves having to stay current on constantly changing rules and regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Education, as well as knowing how to use web based technology they continually roll out for primary job functions. When I started working in financial aid many years ago, almost all the training was offered via local workshops, state or national conferences, and paper manuals. Over the past few years the Department of Education has developed and continued to expand upon an e-learning catalog to keep professionals in the field up to date on everything related to the administration of federal student aid.
The current e-learning catalog includes webinars, podcasts, web based training, and computer based training modules using Adobe Captivate. I feel that these forms of E-learning mesh well with the time and labor constraints inherent in financial aid departments. Due to the fact that the learning opportunities don’t require an instructor and can be done at the learners own convenience, they can be easily fit into busy schedules. While not pertinent to those outside the field of federal financial aid, anyone curious can freely access the computer based training modules to see how they function at http://www.ifap.ed.gov/codcbt/CODCBT.html. This type of training has been invaluable in my ability to keep my knowledge on par with the needs of my department, while also demonstrating to me how effectively learning can be carried out and enhanced using educational technology. Looking at the difference in available training for those in my profession between now and when I first started in financial aid, it serves as a real reminder of the power educational technology can have.
Through completion of this course I hope to learn about the theories behind the development of current e-learning environments like those mentioned above, along with theories behind past and future educational technologies. With a greater understanding of the field I expect to become properly equipped to eventually design my own learning environments and tools. I anticipate this course will also help me to better know when, where, and how to apply educational technologies based on different types of learners or subject matter. The knowledge and experiences gained through this course should further aid me in my goal to eventually transition into a fulltime position in teaching, training, and instructional design.