About Instructional Technology and Learning Science (ITLS) Department
Photo courtesy: Katarina Pantic
Role and History of the Department
According to the self-study report, The Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Department began in 1966 as the Department of Instructional Media and Library Science. Faculty were gradually added on full- and part-time basis, and they were shared with other programs in the College of Education and University. In the late 1960s-early 1970s, the program focused mainly on the preparation of public school library/media specialists. Starting in the mid-1970s and continuing to the present, the emphasis was broadened to include applications in business, industry, academia, and government. Increases in the number of both faculty and students, as well as increased national visibility and prominence in the field of instructional technology, accompanied these shifts under their long-time department head, Dr. Don Smellie. In 1999, the department transitioned from quarters to semesters.
Today, we still strive to gauge progress, assess needs, and act strategically to ensure the continued excellence of the program.
Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences at USU is one of the leading departments in the nation. Our faculty members are influential in areas such as instructional design theory and application, innovative science teaching methods, distance and adult education, digital libraries, instructional games and simulations, virtual tutors, and so much more. We have people who are skilled in research, evaluation, and software applications and who are interested/committed to helping you succeed. Our reputation is not a self-appraisal. Here is a quote from our last Regents' Review that was conducted by external reviewers. "The department is clearly a top tier program. It is easily in the top ten and probably in the top five programs in national reputation and recognition." (Board of Regents External Reviewers Report, 2000). In addition, according to the 2015 U.S. News and World Report, USU’s online graduate programs in education were ranked 13th in the nation. This ranking applies to the master's degrees in ITLS: Master of Science, Master of Education, and Master of Arts (Utah State Today).
Size of the program can be described in several ways. One is the number of faculty (10 faculty members) or in the number of students (approximately 93 masters students, 1 educational specialist, and approximately 27 on campus PhD students). At the last commencement (2016) 3 students received their PhD degrees and 31 received their masters degrees. Another way to measure the size of a department is by the amount of externally sponsored research. Since July 1, 2015, the Department of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences has generated over $1,266,062 in research grants and contracts related to various aspects of online learning. There is another $2,976,698 in proposals currently pending, and at least $436,599 more to be submitted by the end of academic year 2016-2017.
As a member of the department you will have chances for input into the administration of the department through the Instructional Technology Student Association (ITSA). The Association also sponsors brown bag lectures where professionals from the field and academics from related disciplines engage in discussions about the practice of ITLS. ITSA sponsors a number of social events throughout the year as well.
You will be mentored by a faculty member who can guide you in the process of graduation, introduce you to professionals in the field, and help you stretch to your full potential. You will have a chance to attend national conferences. Students and faculty typically attend a variety of conferences including the Association of Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and FabLearn. One of the truly exciting features of USU is Student Research Symposium, offered every April by the Office of Research and graduate Studies at USU. The Symposium features faculty and student research, and provides communications training. Everyone is welcome to contribute with their presentations, posters, attendance and by volunteering.
Career Opportunities in Instructional Technology
With a degree in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences, you will find yourself prepared to work in several kinds of organizations, dealing with instruction, training, human performance, or design. You may find yourself working for large corporations dealing with designing, developing, delivering, or evaluating training programs. Some work ina small organization doing some or all of the above, or even working as an independent contractor. We have existing classroom teachers who stay in their schools or work in their districts as technology coordinators. Others choose to run educational programs in libraries, museums, or other informal learning spaces. Several of our graduates work in higher education as instructional designers and we also have graduates in tenure track faculty positions.
An ITLS degree will give you a lot of career options, in the business, educational, and military sectors. Often our graduates find themselves in positions of leadership within a company and the field. Beginning salaries range from $40,000 to 70,000 for masters degrees. According to a Business Insider Report from 2015, the average mid-career salary for USU graduates in general is $79,800.