Explore how technology has changed education and learning design careers

February 03, 2020 · 9 min read · By ASU Online
Technology has transformed education on all fronts. Learners everywhere, from grade-schoolers in K-12 classrooms and university students in distance learning programs to industrial workers expanding their production line capabilities and clinical health care professionals upskilling into management positions, are embracing sophisticated instructional hardware and software.

Technological advancements hold significant implications for teachers, instructors, administrators and other professionals navigating education and learning design, where technological expertise is rising as a foundational competency across all industries. If you are among the many working in these roles, you likely have access to numerous training resources that can help you get the insight needed to harness the benefits of technology in education and find career success.

However, an advanced degree, such as a Master of Education in learning design and technologies, allows you to not only engage with modern technological innovations but also explore core instructional ideas in depth. This makes it possible to cultivate the theoretical knowledge you need to adapt and deploy foundational learning principles in today’s data-driven world.

Understanding the importance of technology in K-12 education

K-12 students have used computers at school for decades. The first computer labs appeared during the 1980s, as personal computing technology became more affordable and easier to use. By 2008, approximately 97% of U.S. public schools had computers in every classroom, per the National Center for Education Statistics. During the 2016-17 school year, more than half of the K-12 teachers navigating American institutions report one-to-one student-to-device ratios, according to survey data from Freckle Education. But how exactly are learners taking advantage of these digital tools?

A good number of students use learning management solutions, which allow them to submit assignments, collaborate with peers or teachers and access key instructional materials online. Others engage with technology through gamified digital learning experiences that make hard subjects more palatable, per Education Week. Some students even take part in computer programming courses, according to researchers for Code.org, who discovered that more than one-third of American high schools offer coding courses. And these are just a handful of the many examples of innovation in the classroom.

Teachers have taken to technology, too, leveraging document and file-sharing programs and other online tools to plan lessons, collaborate with colleagues and connect with their students. Approximately 66% of those teaching in U.S. schools receive formal hardware and software training, Pew Research Center revealed. However, as classroom technology becomes more sophisticated — larger numbers of students are engaging with high-level digital ideas like big data, robotics and mobile application development, per PricewaterhouseCoopers — the basic knowledge that teachers gain in training workshops becomes less effective. In fact, just 10% of U.S. teachers feel they are prepared to lead lessons addressing complex technological topics, according to PwC.

These changes make obtaining an advanced degree in learning design and technologies critical for education professionals like yourself looking to succeed in the K-12 arena. These degrees give you the opportunity to learn about the most recent digital innovations and create effective instructional programs that center on these items. With this expertise, you can pursue traditional teaching roles or explore support positions such as technology coordinator or LMS administrator. These kinds of backend information technology roles are particularly popular among K-12 institutions, as many schools are bringing their technical operations in-house but struggling to find the personnel they need to manage such functions, per data from the Consortium of School Networking. As more innovative ways to use technology in the classroom appear, this demand is bound to grow.

A student works with her laptop in a library.
A student pursuing a degree in education listens to audio on her headphones while working on her laptop in a library. 

Mapping technology in higher education

Higher education experienced a technological renaissance similar to the one that unfolded in the K-12 arena. Colleges housed the earliest computers used for research purposes, meaning they were some of the first to take advantage of the technology. In fact, multiple universities unveiled mandatory computer ownership policies in the early 1990s, The New York Times reported. LMS platforms and online portfolios started to see significant usage on college campuses during the middle and late 2000s, per Educause. These and other tools have since solidified the importance of technology in education for college students, 82% of whom believe digital access boosts their grades, saves them time and improves their experiences, analysts for McGraw-Hill found.

This evolution is expected to continue as more members of Generation Z graduate high school and start college courses. These individuals are digital natives, meaning technology has been and always will be part of their daily lives. Consequently, Gen Zers tend to have high technological expectations and exacting hardware and software standards. These students want colleges to support advanced consumer innovations such as artificial intelligence-powered smart speakers or incorporate augmented or virtual reality tools into instruction, EdSurge found.

The emergence of distance and blending learning strategies also has an impact on technology in higher education. Approximately 15% of American college students participate in blended learning courses — classes that include online and in-person instructional elements — while another 15% are enrolled in distance learning courses that unfold on digital platforms, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

These and other examples of innovation in the classroom are forcing university instructors and administrators to engage with technology on a deeper level. Even the IT personnel who support higher education activities are revisiting their qualifications with the emergence of sophisticated instructional tools. The disruptive classroom technologies that act as a framework for innovation in education have catalyzed a number of new roles — most notably, the instructional designer position. An estimated 96% of higher education faculty members work with these specialized professionals, who develop online courses and the technical mechanisms through which they are delivered, according to research from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Earning an advanced degree can help you obtain instructional designer positions or similar roles, as such a credential covers key technical aspects and deployment methods that make it possible to find innovative ways to use technology in the classroom.

Exploring learning innovation in the corporate space

Education has long enriched corporate operations, as distributing industry best practices and preserving institutional knowledge are key to success. Training programs facilitate this knowledge exchange. For decades, organizations leaned on traditional instructional methods, most of which involved internal or external subject matter experts offering insights in person. However, this approach has changed in recent years because of widespread technological advancement.

More than one-third of American workers want self-paced training programs delivered via online channels, per research from LinkedIn Learning. This is why 43% of U.S. companies offer digital learning tools meant to meet this demand, LinkedIn found. Moreover, these initiatives, which include everything from gamified mobile experiences to AR- or VR-centered simulators, require immense investment. In fact, American organizations spent more than $87 billion on training in 2018, one report from Training magazine revealed. Payroll accounted for more than half of this amount — and for good reason.

Online learning experts and instructional designers are essential here, overseeing the creation of cutting-edge instructional workflows that engage workers and ultimately lay the groundwork for sustainable business growth by tapping into the benefits of technology in education. This is why the demand for these roles is growing rapidly, according to analysts for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, who found that training and development specialist hires are expected to increase 11% between 2016 and 2026. Industry leaders like Airbnb and Apple are hiring these education experts to develop and deploy training programs that boost productivity and revenue. Both organizations maintain leverage learning designers to create and maintain internal universities dedicated to upskilling employees, TechCrunch and The New York Times reported.

If you want to staff one of these positions, you can remain competitive in the job market by gaining the necessary expertise through a master’s program that not only explores how technology has changed education but also addresses the foundational learning and communication theories that underlie strong educational programs, no matter the delivery methods involved.

Earning an advanced degree with ASU Online

If you are looking to understand the importance of technology in education and cultivate a career in one of the aforementioned and various other industries, you might consider many institutions to gain the requisite expertise. However, few compare with the ASU Online Master of Education in learning design and technologies program, which is ranked #1 in online master’s in instructional media programs by U.S. News & World Report.

The 100% online degree can give you the opportunity to engage with key learning theories and instructional strategies and explore the foundations of learning design. The program also covers advanced issues such as emerging technology, learning system evaluation and online course delivery. The degree closes with an applied research project where students apply the insights they have gained in class to real-world education problems.

Are you interested in making a career out of innovative ways to use technology in the classroom and beyond? ASU Online can help you gain the expertise you need to accomplish this goal.


ASU Online – Online Master of Education in learning design and technologies
link text 2019 Workplace Learning Report by LinkedIn Learning
2018 Workplace Learning Report by LinkedIn Learning
Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools by the National Center for Education Statistics
2017 Technology in the Classroom Survey Results by Freckle Education
Quests, Badges and XP: How Teachers are Using Digital Games by Education Week
State of Computer Science Education by Code.org
How Teachers are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms by Pew Research Center
Technology in U.S. Schools: Are We Preparing Our Kids for the Jobs of Tomorrow by PricewaterhouseCoopers
Campus Life: Dartmouth; Policy Requires Undergraduates to Own Computers by The New York Times
Twenty Years of Edtech by Educause
New Survey Data: Four Out of Five College Students Say Digital Learning Technology Helps Improve Their Grades by McGraw Hill
Analysis: Is Higher Ed Ready for the Tech Expectations of the Teens of 2022? By EdSurge
Distance Learning by National Center for Education Statistics
Instructional Designers in Higher Education by The Chronicle of Higher Education
K-12 IT Leadership Report by the Consortium of School Networking
2018 Training Industry Report by Training magazine
Training and Development Specialists by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Airbnb is Running its Own Internal University to Teach Data Science by TechCrunch
Simplifying the Bull: How Picasso Helps Teach Apple’s Style by The New York Times

An instructional design team discusses a training program.
A team of instructional designers collaborates on the design and build of a new training program. 


Step 1 of 2

Get started today

To learn more about ASU Online or a specific program, fill out the form below and check your email for information on next steps.

Select a degree type
Select an interest area
Find a program
This is a required field.