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Majors & Degrees

For educators, ongoing learning around technology is vital to their profession

November 13, 2023

This article was first published on SiouxFalls.Business on November 9, 2023.

Technology permeates nearly every aspect of our lives, and education is no exception. This makes Dakota State University’s Master of Science in Educational Technology (MSET) program an asset to a career in education.

“Technology is a lifelong skill,” said Kati Van’t Hof, MSET alumna (’21). “Without technology integration, I wouldn’t feel as if I am preparing my learners for their future careers.”

Students in the online program become experts in integrating technology into learning environments and leading schools and organizations in utilizing technology. With 30 credit hours, this flexible degree appeals to many educators, whether they attended Dakota State for their undergraduate degree or not.

Van’t Hof earned her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from South Dakota State University with an elementary education certification through the Dakota State University cooperative program. She was inspired to enroll in the MSET program to further her learning in a non-administrative role.

Van’t Hof teaches second grade at Dakota Prairie Elementary in Brookings, S.D.

“This program checked all the boxes for me based on my interests as a teacher professional as well as financially,” Van’t Hof said.

Because technology is always evolving, she appreciated exploring ways to evaluate new programs and applications and reflect on how she is using these tools to better the learning experience for her learners.

“I consider whether a tool is for consumption or creation and what my purpose is for integrating it into my classroom,” she said.

But her lessons didn’t stop at technology integration. She also learned about leadership. Her favorite course, taught by Dr. Kevin Smith, was called Leading Evaluation and Change in the Educational Technology Environment.

“I enjoyed this class because it stretched my thinking about leadership at all levels and how I can emulate strong leaders even as a classroom teacher,” she said. “The reading materials were current, engaging, and thought-provoking.”

Her experience in the program has made her more confident with trying new things and has motivated her to keep up with new technology and instructional practices, she shared.

“I have recommended the MSET program to many teachers as a way to grow as a teacher leader,” Van’t Hof said. “I believe it has made me a better teacher and given me tools to continue my journey in lifelong learning.”

Darcie Malcom graduated from DSU as an undergrad in elementary education in 2011 and earned her MSET degree in 2023.

Since completing the degree, she has taken on the role of JK-3 technology and integration teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in Brookings.

Prior to her role as JK-3 technology and integration teacher, Malcom started as a fourth-grade teacher. At that time, technology was an encore class that was taught four times a week for about 30 minutes. Over time, it was decided that technology would be transitioned into a core subject every day, and ultimately, Malcom took over as technology teacher for her team.

“This led me to join the MSET program, which I found beneficial for my education and my students,” she said.

Malcom appreciated the ability to move through the program as fast or slow as she was able, and provided many valuable lessons she could apply to her life and classroom.

“As a leader for technology in our school, I can help troubleshoot problems for students and teachers, and help incorporate technology components that can be utilized in an everyday classroom, no matter the subject being taught,” she said.

Students are using technology outside the classroom, but they may not know the best ways to use it in their education, Malcom explained.

“Technology is not going away, but instead it’s changing how we do things in our lives, including school,” she said. “Allowing students to utilize technology can open up more learning opportunities than we have been able to do before.”

Sylvia Johnson, a third-grade teacher at Madison Elementary School, who is currently enrolled in the MSET program, saw firsthand the significance of technology in the classroom during her student teaching experience during the spring of 2020.

Johnson acknowledged that technology often has a bad reputation, but when used in purposeful and meaningful ways, its impact can be significant.

“Technology is the accelerator to learning,” she said. “If you’re not using technology in your classroom, you’re missing out on growth potential with your students.”

While some might have concerns about technology eliminating the need for educators, Johnson feels it is an asset that enhances her knowledge and skills.

“Technology does not replace a teacher, and it never will,” she said. “A good teacher looks at the content, applies the pedagogical practices to that content, and layers technology to drive that to the next level.”

Johnson will graduate from the MSET program in December of 2024.

For more information on the MSET program, visit Dakota State’s website or contact Dr. Kevin Smith.