UNT to offer online doctoral degree in educational computing

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DENTON (UNT), Texas — In response to corporations’ and educational institutions’ needs for experts in the areas of digital instruction and instructional technology, the University of North Texas’ Department of Learning Technologies has expanded its doctoral degree program in educational computing to include an online degree option.

The online program, which was recently approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, is intended to serve students living outside the North Texas region. The new distance-delivered option will begin in the summer of 2012. It will be the first online doctor of philosophy degree program offered at UNT.

UNT’s educational computing doctoral degree program was established in 2001 as an extension of the master of science program in computer education and cognitive systems that was established in 1985. Students in the doctoral program focus on understanding and expanding the synergy of technology and learning/instructional systems theory for careers as technology coordinators, directors of distance education, instructional designers, teachers and faculty members and other learning technology positions in academic and corporate settings. Students have the option of completing the master’s degree in computer education and cognitive systems while working on their doctoral degree in educational computing.

The Department of Learning Technologies is part of the College of Information, which houses both the Departments of Learning Technology and the Department of Library and Information Sciences. Ranked 17th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, the college supports student-centered research and is committed to quality learning experiences. 

Dr. Greg Jones, UNT associate professor of learning technologies and director of the doctoral program, said UNT will become the first Texas university to offer an online doctoral degree in educational computing, instructional technology or a related area.

“Educational and instructional technology is a fast-growing field, and having the distance option will greatly expand the ability for students outside the North Texas area,” Jones said. “The program faculty has a long and notable history of research, grants and instruction in the field.”

About 77 percent of prospective graduate students participating in a survey last spring said distance to the nearest doctoral program was the primary reason for not considering a doctoral degree.

“Not every student can afford to move to Denton or the North Texas area to enter our residency Ph.D. program. Online delivery will enable the program to reach more students from across Texas, as well as nationally and internationally. More than 200 students in 20 states and from Europe, Mexico and Canada expressed interest in an online doctoral degree during the last several years,” Jones said.

The students in the new program will complete 57 academic hours of Internet-based courses and 12 academic hours of dissertation research. While taking courses, students will build portfolios of academic writing, creative work and service that will be used to assess their capability prior to starting their dissertations.

Jones said mentoring will be an important aspect of the program. Each student will be assigned to both a faculty member in the Department of Learning Technologies and a doctoral mentor. The mentors will be professionals in the field who will oversee the student’s work toward his or her dissertation. The faculty member and doctoral mentor will work with the student during his or her coursework and dissertation work, focusing on student-centered research and writing to guide the student to successful completion of the program, Jones said.

Jones said regular contact with doctoral mentors, including possible face-to-face meetings, will help students make a smoother transition from coursework into their dissertation research.

“We’ve been successful in having our doctoral students in educational computing graduate in less than five years, on average, because they work on research and writing from their first year in the program. We want the distance students to receive the same sort of mentoring,” he said.

Cohorts of students organized around geographic locations or with shared mentors will be formed. Each summer, the cohorts will come together for an annual meeting to be held in conjunction with the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education. During the annual meeting, students will present research, meet with their dissertation committees and later defend their portfolios and dissertations.

Applications to the online doctoral program are being accepted until April 10, 2012. For more information, visit the program’s website at http://lt.unt.edu/ecmp, or contact the Department of Learning Technologies at 940-565-2057.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108