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Online doctoral degree is a first for UNT and a first in Texas

The Department of Learning Technologies has expanded its doctoral degree program in educational computing to include an online degree option.

The new distance-delivered option will be the first online doctor of philosophy degree program offered at UNT, and UNT will become the first Texas university to offer an online doctoral degree in educational computing, instructional technology or a related area.

  • Applications are being accepted until April 10, 2012.
  • Learn more, call 940-565-2057.

The online program, approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, is intended to serve students living outside the North Texas region. It was created in response to employers’ needs for experts in digital instruction and instructional technology. The program begins in summer 2012.

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 positions in academic and corporate settings.  

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. The college is ranked 17th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report

Greg Jones, Learning Technologies facultyAbout 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,” said Greg Jones, right, associate professor of learning technologies and director of the doctoral 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. Students will build portfolios of academic writing, creative work and service that will be used to assess their capability prior to starting their dissertations.

Each student will be assigned to both a faculty member in the Department of Learning Technologies and a doctoral mentor.  

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.

Posted on: Thu 06 October 2011

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