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Chuck Carney
Director, Media Relations and Communications, IU School of Education

Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2011

IU School of Education to offer online doctorate in Instructional Systems Technology

Aug. 24, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has approved a new doctor of education degree (Ed.D.) in Instructional Systems Technology (IST) from the Indiana University School of Education to be delivered entirely through distance education technology. The new program is the first IU doctorate offered completely online.

Gerardo Gonzalez

Gerardo Gonzalez

Print-Quality Photo

"The IST program has an outstanding international reputation for quality and innovation," said School of Education Dean Gerardo Gonzalez. "Our graduates are employed in leadership positions in a variety of settings throughout the world. The new online degree will make available a program with a proven track record to people we could not have reached otherwise. It is in itself an application of the innovative teaching for which our faculty is known."

The IST Ed.D. online offers the same content as the on-site degree program, but allows many more opportunities for working professionals and others to earn the degree. The chair of the IST department said the Ed.D. is focused on applying theory to practice.

"The program will prepare people to go out into the field," said Ted Frick, chair and professor in IST. "They could be in a variety of roles and settings -- not just K-12, but corporate, business and industry, government, military, nonprofits and schools and universities. We expect our Ed.D. graduates to be managers and leaders to help organizations solve problems -- whether they're instructional problems or human performance problems where instruction is not needed."

The Department of Instructional Systems Technology in the IU School of Education prepares practitioners and researchers to build and test processes, products, systems and services for use in education and workplace settings. Elements of IST include analysis, design, development, evaluation, and implementation and management. Research crosses disciplines and focuses on theories for instructional design and workplace learning and performance improvement. Ed.D. students will apply these theories to solve practical problems. They will learn research skills to conduct needs analyses, do formative evaluation and usability testing, and measure learning achievement and improvement of human performance on the job.

Frick said the program idea originated after the department received inquiries from students completing the online IST master's degree who wanted to continue their studies at a distance. The uncertain economy has also added a need for more educational program design, as more people seek to increase employability by furthering their education.

"There's a huge need right now for more education because of our unemployment situation," Frick said. "We need to be developing training programs for the workforce, new programs in community colleges, certificates, associate degree programs and the like. Developing those, designing those and testing those, that's a place where we would expect our Ed.D. students to go."

While all of the coursework hours will be online, students will be required to make at least three trips to the IU Bloomington campus during their program of study. Students must attend one of the annual IST conferences that feature presentations about pertinent topics by students, faculty, alumni and others in the field. They must also take qualifying exams and conduct their dissertation defense on campus. Online students will also be encouraged to attend meetings and conferences of professional organizations within the IST discipline, such as the Association for Educational Communications and Technology and the International Society for Performance Improvement.

The IST department at IU traces its history back to the 1920s and has been part of the School of Education since the 1940s. It is regarded as among the world's top IST programs, with graduates serving in faculty and professional roles across the world.

Frick said it is precisely because of the IST department's reputation and position as a leader in instructional technology that offering the online doctorate became very important.

"We often become the model for other programs to emulate," he said. "Historically, we've been leaders in the field, and we want to be leaders here."

To learn more about the Ed.D. in Instructional Systems Technology as well as other online graduate offerings, please visit the IUconnectED website at