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UT Arlington Master’s Program Spotlights Online Instruction

University of Texas at Arlington has launched a new certificate and master’s degree program to train educators to teach online, use web-based applications and curricula, and personalize learning strategies.

Hugh Kellam, UTA assistant professor in learning sciences.
Hugh Kellam, UTA assistant professor in learning sciences, will head UT Arlington’s new online instruction program.
Photo credit: UT Arlington
While most educators initially approached the shift to online learning during COVID-19 as a temporary measure, many students have since grown more accustomed to the flexibility of remote and hybrid learning — moving teachers to change their approach to instruction and pedagogy. Noting these recent trends, the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Education is offering a new graduate-level certificate in instructional and learning design technology, as well as a master’s degree option, to train future teachers to design new methods and practices for digital instruction.

According to a recent UTA news release, the new program will teach graduate students how to streamline and personalize online lessons using tech tools like web-based applications and curricula, as well as how to design and create interactive lesson plans for different grade levels and adult learners in professional development courses.

UTA assistant professor in learning sciences Hugh Kellam, a coordinator of the new program, said students will also learn to identify gaps related to experiential online learning.

“We’re specifically looking at how we can combine informal learning environments like mobile learning or discussion forums into more formal online learning, incorporating practices of change management into the design of courses and programs, inclusive online learning and culturally responsive teaching in online environments. These are things that we aspire to, but there’s certainly a bit of a gap in the research literature,” he said, adding that courses will begin next semester.

According to Kellam, the program features over a dozen courses to build skills in digital instruction, online instructional design and leading training in other industries engaged in telework. He noted that learning new methods for online teaching and skills training could also be useful for professionals in other industries, such as human resources staff for leading professional development.

“If you’re an instructional designer, a training manager, an HR manager or a senior leader in an organization, a lot of the courses will have relevance for you,” he said. “If you’re a K-12 teacher, you can come in, take a couple of our core courses, and then look at courses in culturally responsive teaching and facilitation strategies to take those as your electives. If you’re a professor or an adult educator, you might take a couple of core courses and [other courses like] the facilitation strategy course.”

According to the university announcement, students can complete the program within two semesters and customize degree plans for their individual career goals.

Kellam said he hopes to see the program evolve and adapt to changes in technology in the years to come. He said he expects interest in the program to grow as classrooms and workplaces change the way they use technology for daily communications and other functions.

“We don’t even know what will be coming in five or six years, but I think the big thing to expect will be the ability to personalize the learning space using technology. If someone wants to learn using augmented or virtual reality, then we’ll have courses that focus on that … . If they like didactic learning and want to see lectures online, we can use that,” he said. “Having those personalized learning environments where students get to choose their learning objectives and the way they’re going to learn is the way it’s going to go, and that’s something I’d like to see the program adapt for in the future.”
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.