New Masters Program Grows at PC

By MANYI ENO

News Editor, Interim EIC

In the fall of 2014, Piedmont College announced a new master’s program: Instructional Technology. 

Associate Professor of Education Randy Hollandsworth explained the new program and how it has grown over the last four months. 

“It is called a new field because Georgia just added it last year,” said Hollandsworth. When the program first started, there were less than 10 students. 

“We are a small program, but we currently have 17 students so far,” Hollandsworth said. 

Hollandsworth has been involved with the creation of bringing the new program to Piedmont from the beginning and is one of the two professors at Piedmont with a background in Instructional Technology. The other professor is Kenyon Brown who teaches the majority of his classes on the Athens campus.

According to Hollandsworth, the new program underwent a rigorous process for accreditation, including creating a curriculum and filling out administrative paperwork. 

Within the program, there are two different degrees or tracks– a teacher based degree and non-teacher based degree. 

With the degree in instructional design and development, students will be able to work at a corporation and can create training videos or teach employees how to use the technology at that company, among others.

With the other degree in design, integration and administration, students will be able to integrate technology more efficiently within their classrooms as well as teach other teachers how to use new technology. 

“A lot of the classes are combined for both degrees, but they go off different tracks,” said Hollandsworth. “If a school system wanted to buy a bunch of tablets to use, [our students] would have the skill set and tools to do assessments to make sure that it would work [correctly].”

Mass Communications Graduate Assistant Jesse Sutton is pursuing her masters in instructional design and development. She says that she is happy to have obtained her undergraduate degree in mass communications because it was a good transition into the instructional technology program.

“Mass communications itself means that you have to be able to communicate a message to different types of people, and this is an integral part of instructional technology,” Sutton said.

Resident Director (RD) Kriston Haynes is also getting her masters in the new program and graduated from Western Carolina University, earning her middle grades education degree in 2014. 

“It seemed like something different,” Haynes said about why she chose to get her masters in instructional technology for the classroom. 

“When I talked to Hollandsworth about the program, he put a good light on the multiple things you can do with the [degree],” she said. “I know that I am going to be a teacher after I graduate and being able to understand how to integrate technology and its place in the classroom is really important.”

Hollandsworth said that it now is an interesting time for the new program because of the growth of technology. He said that social media has permeated everything, and instructional technologists consider themselves the lighthouse.

“We teach you how to use it, tell you the advantages of using it,

 Hollandsworth said. “We’re not information technology (IT) people. We’re not coders- we’re the ones who determine if there is a relative advantage to using iPad’s in teaching.”

Haynes said that she believes instructional technology is more than what people think it is. 

“We talk about the effects of technology on society and our relationships,” said Haynes. “We’re even learning different types of software that can be used to enhance learning in the classroom.”

Sutton and Haynes’ advice for people who are thinking about getting their masters in instructional technology is that they have to be ready for time management and devotion. 

“The graduate program is more difficult than I thought it would be,” said Sutton. 

“I thought I was going to be able to walk in and study and have the exact same habits as my undergraduate, and I quickly learned in my first semester that you have to have time management skills and open communication with your professors.”

Sutton said that it is one of the best decisions she has made because she has been able to stretch her thinking and become a more well-rounded individual. 

Haynes said that at her previous school she took a technology course for education that did not fulfill her like the instructional technology program at Piedmont. 

Hollandsworth said that there is currently a cohort in Gwinnett County and that Piedmont is looking to expand the program further. 

“17 is not a giant number, but it’s a start,” he said.

Students can contact or visit Hollandsworth or Brown to find out more information about the program or attend the PERC conference in March.