Career Advice - Computer Science + EdTech

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padcf
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:27 am

Career Advice - Computer Science + EdTech

Post by padcf »

Hey everyone,

I’m looking for some career advice in the international education world as a Computer Science and/or EdTech teacher/coach. I’ve read almost every thread/post on here and figured I’d ask for some advice by creating my own thread. This post is a long one, so thank you in advance.

Personal background:

32 years old, Irish citizen
Married with one child
Living in Hanoi, Vietnam - willing to relocate as/if required

Qualifications:

BA History and Geography
MA Digital Humanities
CELTA
hDip (same level as BA in Ireland) in Science (Software Development/Computer Science)
D.C. Teaching Licence specialising in Computer Science 7-12
Waiting on QTS application result - assuming I will not be successful, but fingers crossed.

Job Experience:

ESL unqualified teacher - 1 year in Vietnam
ICT unqualified teacher - 3 years in Vietnam
Software developer - 1 year in Ireland/Colombia
AS Level Computer Science qualified teacher - 6 months in Vietnam - my current position


OK, so that’s my background.

I’m currently teaching AS level Computer Science at a Tier 2/Tier 3 IS in Hanoi, Vietnam. I will stay here at least until the end of my contract (2021) so that I can teach A level CS and gain that experience.

Medium term (2 - 5 years), I would like to move into EdTech and continue teaching CS if possible, and long term (6 - 10 years) I’d like to get into EdTech consultancy.

My current plan is to:

- Cement my career as a CS teacher - teaching the Cambridge curriculum - over the next one/two years

- Use the cash earned to slowly shift towards an EdTech role over the next two to three years by:

- a) Taking the MS Educator Certificate (Booked and currently studying for that)
- b) Becoming a Google Certified Educator
- c) Doing a second MA/MSc in EdTech or similar field

- Apply for EdTech positions in Vietnam/Asia or elsewhere
- Do an EdD or PhD in EdTech or similar field
- Set up consultancy in EdTech or take up leadership role in EdTech

My Questions are:

Should I be looking at a second masters? If so should I be looking at an MSc only and not MAs because I already have an MA?

My MA is in Digital Humanities - which is essentially studying how we can use computer science to research in the humanities. My thesis involved making interactive maps for learning - for example, so perhaps doing another masters in EdTech would be in some part redundant in terms of content covered- particularly if I do an MA and not an MSc. That said, I personally could see a lot of value in doing the MA in EdTech from UCL - but that leaves me with two MAs, rather than an MA and MSc.

Alternatively, I would be interested in doing an EdD or PhD in EdTech instead of a masters, but I don’t have much of a thesis right now and have been out of academic practice for a while. I feel an MA or MSc would allow me to get back into academia. All of this would be done with the longer term goal of getting into EdTech consultancy when I’m in my late 30s or thereabouts.

My only real teaching qualifications are my CELTA and D.C. teaching licence (Teach-Now). Perhaps I should do a masters in pure education or in leadership to better equip myself?

My current school is allowing me to gain good experience teaching AS and next year, A Level experience in Computer Science. There’s also a chance I’m allowed to bring in CS at GCSE level and I’d love that too. With that said, the school is firmly Tier 2 - perhaps Tier 3. It’s a for profit school, PD is non-existent and morale is low. Our leader/principal is old fashioned and is not innovative in the slightest. EdTech/Tech coach does not exist in our school or in its future plans - to the best of my knowledge. There is a small chance I can engineer the role myself, but that would be slim.

So, before starting a new masters should I try and get into a better school (in Vietnam or abroad) or do two more years in my current school (total 4 years qualified teaching CS) and use this time to complete a masters in EdTech or similar before trying to move schools? I’m slightly concerned that other schools view teachers from my school negatively (so some of our staff say anyway.)

I’m trying to do everything possible to better my career prospects. Is there anything I’m missing or anything you might suggest that I look into?

I appreciate my post is a long one, and perhaps I’ve included a lot of unnecessary information here, but thanks for reading and I hope I can give back on here in the future when I’m a little more experienced.

Thank you.

PsyGuy
Posts: 9567
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Response

Post by PsyGuy »

No need to be sorry, one of my preferences hen posting is if members gave us more not less, for the major contributors to ana1yse and comment on.

First, my impression is that based on your limited work and experience history, you tend to see the solution to problems in your professional advancement as being solvable with more education. Its a common problem with young professionals who even if their lizard brains understand that the majority of those successful in a field have X decades of experience, they think I dont have X decades of experience what can I do instead, and then making a connection that doing that alternative thing is somehow comparable to the X decades of experience. Thats why the IE rule of 'experience is king' is a rule. You need to set the education goals on the back side for a while. Another Masters isnt going to improve your marketability compared to the time spent gaining experience, you end up being "degree heavy' and practice lite". You absolutely should not be struggling with the difference between an MA or an MS, thats more an issue for tertiary edu and getting into a doctoral program, its not an issue worthy of consideration for IE at the level youre at, or even where youre planing on going to, because it just doesnt matter. You need to be doing more stuff not studying more stuff and obsessing with the initials after your name.
As for a doctorate, unless you really want ITs and leadership having to call you "doctor" or your goal is executive leadership, there arent many Tech.Ds (Technology Director), Tech.Cs (Technology Consultant) or Ed.Techs with doctorates either in corporate or in edu. Even if thats your goal, your arent there yet.

Second, youve framed these 4 professions (Ed.Tech, Tech.D, Tech.C, CS/ICT IT) as being along some continuum, they arent they are distinct and discreet professions that have to do with technology and edu but they have very different skill sets and tasking. This is good though because your verbose post has clearly indicated what you want to do and where you want to be. To that end being a Tech.C has nothing to do with teaching CS or ICT. Tech.Cs dont set up those programs and they dont sell them to ISs, however the ICT/CS IT gets a comp lab and they set it up aligned with the curriculum or they just execute someone elses previous curriculum, regardless its something ICT/CS ITs feel very invested in doing themselves, because like everything involving ego, how they do it and want to do it is the best way, and leadership is rarely in a position to know any better, so they let them do it. When an IS contracts for a Tech.C that already has a Tech.D and/or Ed.Tech its because theres a communication problem among those individuals, leadership and ownership that usually involves one group wanting it one way and the other group wanting it another and the tech group comes up with excuses why it cant be done or shouldnt be done and the Tech.C. is hired to advise the ownership and leadership the real story and. hen the tech people first meet the Tech.C their goal is to convince the Tech.C to support their recommendation, and a soon as they realize the Tech.C isnt doing that, you become the enemy. People quit over this, and more often than many other aspects of IE.
Youre really in a great spot to be a Tech.C because your ISs tech plan sucks, this allows you to put together a tech plan on paper that you can spin on your resume/application even if your IS and leadership dont buy into it. That should really be the next step for you, getting out of the classroom and into the Ed.Tech or Tech.D roll because thats the next part of the equation your missing. Get next years students past A* and IGCSEs and look at transitioning into an Ed.Tech. or Tech.D roll, because adding more CS/ICT IT experience to your resume isnt going to compensate for a lack of Ed.Tech and Tech.D experience. No amount of one is worth any amount of the other. Inn the tech scheme of an IS the CS/ICT IT with there on lab is almost a fiefdom onto themselves within an ISs whole school technology plan and structure.

Third, you jut need to get out there. Put together a website, get some business cards made and start pitching yourself as a Tech.C. what IS youre at or where you go to isnt going to matter much. You need problems to solve and fix, so you can market those. Top ISs have fewer if any problems. Their big issue is hiring the next person when the current person moves on, thats about it. You need to find those squirmy third tier ISs there, that you can help, and build a resume at. Make a successful side hustle out of that and your better positioned to move into Tech.C. as your profession.

padcf
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:27 am

Re: Career Advice - Computer Science + EdTech

Post by padcf »

Thanks you very much for your reply, PsyGuy.

I wanted to reply carefully and thoroughly and so it's taken me a while to get the free time to do so.

[quote=PsyGuy post_id=58311 time=1582507619 user_id=68047]

First, my impression is that based on your limited work and experience history, you tend to see the solution to problems in your professional advancement as being solvable with more education. Its a common problem with young professionals who even if their lizard brains understand that the majority of those successful in a field have X decades of experience, they think I dont have X decades of experience what can I do instead, and then making a connection that doing that alternative thing is somehow comparable to the X decades of experience. Thats why the IE rule of 'experience is king' is a rule. You need to set the education goals on the back side for a while. Another Masters isnt going to improve your marketability compared to the time spent gaining experience, you end up being "degree heavy' and practice lite". You absolutely should not be struggling with the difference between an MA or an MS, thats more an issue for tertiary edu and getting into a doctoral program, its not an issue worthy of consideration for IE at the level youre at, or even where youre planing on going to, because it just doesnt matter. You need to be doing more stuff not studying more stuff and obsessing with the initials after your name.

[/quote]

You're spot on with your - here. I do tend to see studying more as a way to progress and have career hopped too much in the past. I am absolutely on the light side when it comes to experience in any one job, and indeed in any one subject as a teacher. At this point I am prepared to put a lot of time into one area, be it CS or EdTech.

[quote=PsyGuy post_id=58311 time=1582507619 user_id=68047]
As for a doctorate, unless you really want ITs and leadership having to call you "doctor" or your goal is executive leadership, there arent many Tech.Ds (Technology Director), Tech.Cs (Technology Consultant) or Ed.Techs with doctorates either in corporate or in edu. Even if thats your goal, your arent there yet.
[/quote]

This is fair enough. I tend to see a PhD as the 'end of the road' in terms of continuous study and so have always assumed I'll do one someday. However, right now I want to earn some coin, invest and build a family so maybe that's for another time.

[quote=PsyGuy post_id=58311 time=1582507619 user_id=68047]
Second, youve framed these 4 professions (Ed.Tech, Tech.D, Tech.C, CS/ICT IT) as being along some continuum, they arent they are distinct and discreet professions that have to do with technology and edu but they have very different skill sets and tasking. This is good though because your verbose post has clearly indicated what you want to do and where you want to be. To that end being a Tech.C has nothing to do with teaching CS or ICT. Tech.Cs dont set up those programs and they dont sell them to ISs, however the ICT/CS IT gets a comp lab and they set it up aligned with the curriculum or they just execute someone elses previous curriculum, regardless its something ICT/CS ITs feel very invested in doing themselves, because like everything involving ego, how they do it and want to do it is the best way, and leadership is rarely in a position to know any better, so they let them do it. When an IS contracts for a Tech.C that already has a Tech.D and/or Ed.Tech its because theres a communication problem among those individuals, leadership and ownership that usually involves one group wanting it one way and the other group wanting it another and the tech group comes up with excuses why it cant be done or shouldnt be done and the Tech.C. is hired to advise the ownership and leadership the real story and. hen the tech people first meet the Tech.C their goal is to convince the Tech.C to support their recommendation, and a soon as they realize the Tech.C isnt doing that, you become the enemy. People quit over this, and more often than many other aspects of IE.
[/quote]

OK, thanks. I understand that teaching CS and being an EdTech coach are different positions, however in my school it seems that those roles blend together - in other schools I take it that is not the case, at least not normally. Currently it's us CS and ICT teachers who are also the informed ones in the EdTech world and also provide EdTech solutions for the school.

That brings me to my next question: although I stated that I would ultimately like to become a Tech.C (because I figured I'd be good at it, have a strong tech background and interest in tech generally and it would also provide me with a good income), it may well be true that staying as CS science teacher is a better choice?
Can you share your thoughts on teaching CS as a career VS EdTech as a career?
What concerns me most is ensuring that I remain valuable and employable in Asia for the medium turn, but I would also like the ability to move closer/back to Europe if required in the future.

As a CS teacher, the professional ceiling is something like Head of IT department, would that be correct? But in EdTech I could move up higher, perhaps into Tech Director role or similar? Am I correct in this line of thinking that I can go further and earn more in the EdTech world? There may even be the potential to move from IS teaching to some EdTech Companies or the like (at least in my mind).

[quote=PsyGuy post_id=58311 time=1582507619 user_id=68047]
Third, you jut need to get out there. Put together a website, get some business cards made and start pitching yourself as a Tech.C. what IS youre at or where you go to isnt going to matter much. You need problems to solve and fix, so you can market those. Top ISs have fewer if any problems. Their big issue is hiring the next person when the current person moves on, thats about it. You need to find those squirmy third tier ISs there, that you can help, and build a resume at. Make a successful side hustle out of that and your better positioned to move into Tech.C. as your profession.
[/quote]

Thanks for this advice. I wholeheartedly agree. Recently myself and the other CS teacher have done a tonne to set up an online learning environment during the Coronavirus outbreak. It's been great.

PsyGuy, thank you for your advice and your thoughts on my post.

padcf
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:27 am

Re: Career Advice - Computer Science + EdTech

Post by padcf »

Oh, my quotes didn't work. Is it possible to use the BB code in another way? I will edit the post if so.

PsyGuy
Posts: 9567
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Reply

Post by PsyGuy »

@padcf

Positions can be co-mingled, more so in small ISs and in ISs that dont do tech very well, and people do find themselves wearing multiple hats, but they are different hats. ISs that do tech well, and whos size can support it have edus in well defined roles with specific tasking within their job title and description

I dont know what a better choice is for you. ICT/CS ITs benefit from high demand and thus high stability, youll always be able to find a job (especially at SLL) and likely will be able to renew as long as you want at an IS.
For Ed.Tech there are several issues:
1) Ed.Techs are usually a way for an IT to get out of a classroom, and there is substantial disagreement what makes for a good Ed.Tech, some feel its technology skills, others think it presentation ability, and others think its edu support, and a lot in between. There are a lot of Ed.Techs that know more about technology applications in terms of consuming technology more than technology as a creator (the difference being for example, a technology consumer has a problem and looks for an app or an extension to download to solve the problem, a technology creator codes a script, app, etc. to fix their problem), as such there is more competition where there already are fewer opening, since in many ISs Ed.Tech is a whole IS appointment.
2) There is always going to be a new class of students taking ICT/CS at SLL and other technology related courses across various grades, and at SLL it tends to attract those who are already highly involved or motivated for the subject. You dont have (to the same degree) the problems maths ITs have with students who dont want to be there, but an IT has authority over their students in their classroom. You dont have that when your an Ed.Tech, sure ITs might have to be there, but there is no marking, and assessment is pretty lax, if the IT attends and shows up, sits in their chair and looks in your direction they have pretty much fulfilled their requirements. You dont have a lot of external incentives to give ITs, and any failure of the program to grow technology is going to fall on you. You cant just make ITs get with the program, you cant give them marks/grades, you have to sell them on productivity, efficiency and effectiveness in such a way that they are willing to invest their own time. You have to do that because Ed.Techs are generally in junior leadership, which means they have evaluation (observe and report) authority at best. That means you can essentially tell someone with actual tasking authority or appointment/dismissal authority at best.
3) Ed.Techs can have a "best by date". ISs hire Ed.Techs to solve their technology integration problems, which is great in the beginning because you have a clear mandate on what to do and where to go. As time moves on though and the major challenges are addressed, your usefulness begins to drop. Sure there will always be at some time new ITs who need training and changes that need retraining in new and evolved features but if your IS is a 1:1 IS using Google Classroom, Power School and ManageBac once the initial implementation is done your going to find yourself at your desk at the end of each years new faculty orientation wondering how you justify your jobs existence, because there ends up being a lot of ITs and HODs ho can now takeover the edu part of the tech if you did a good job and the faculty adopted. When that happens you end up being the "help desk", a TA (hey this is technology related do this for me), or youre a door to door salesperson trying to pitch some new thing you read/stumbled across on the internet because otherwise leadership starts wondering if youre worth your salary and OSH package. Core classroom ITs are essential to an ISs very existence. Ed.Techs are more a luxury.
4) Ed.Techs sometimes get more comp as part of junior leadership. Typically junior leadership are on the same salary scale as ITs but they can get equivalent TLR scale stipends/allowances (typically TLR 2, with no PPA/release time), but most Ed.Techs are just happy to be out of the classroom and competition is relatively high that ISs dont have to offer increased comp.

HOD of ICT is the top for secondary classroom ICTs. Its a mixed bag though, either your doing all admin tasking and you get a cubicle or almost all classroom tasking, because its a huge waste to outfit a CS lab thats not being utilized.

As an Ed.Tech you could move into Tech.D but its not common. ISs that lose a Tech.D look for another Tech.D. The issue is management experience. Most Ed.Techs dont do that, they dont have direct reports and they dont manage a budget, Tech.Ds are managers. What Ed.Tech does move into in the corp world is Tech.C, specially training, because thats what Ed.Techs are, trainers (add mentoring and facilitating if it makes you fee better). Training is the bridge, thats why ICT/CS IT doesnt get you into Tech.C, on the private/corp side an ICT/CS IT is a tutor. Ed.Techs rarely manage anyone or oversee a budget and they are usually a one person department. Ounce you get into a corp as a Tech.C (trainer) the goal is to grow doing that , get promoted (or some other in within IE, the typical avenues are 'grow in, work in, edge in') and get some reports subordinates), oversee resource allocation (budget) and put together some key deliverables. Then you can peddle yourself as a Tech.D.

padcf
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:27 am

Re: Career Advice - Computer Science + EdTech

Post by padcf »

Psyguy, thank you for all your information - it's really beneficial to me in forming my future plans.

My first application for QTS was rejected over a month ago. I used OSSE as the issuing authority and made no mention of Teach-Now in the application. The UK authorities responded after 21 days saying I would need to show where I did my teacher training and proof I did my practicum in the USA etc etc. I never replied and let the application expire.

Last week I received an email from a staff member at Teach-Now saying that some candidates had recently been successful in attaining QTS by also including a letter from the Teach-Now CEO in their application and she suggested that I try this.

I resubmitted all documents (including this letter from the CEO of Teach-Now) to the UK authorities and a week later they awarded me QTS! I'm not sure if you've heard about this recent change and wanted to let you know here that it seems Teach-Now is now being accepted again.

Again, thank you for all the advice!

PsyGuy
Posts: 9567
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Reply

Post by PsyGuy »

@padcf

Its not all applicants and its more like the TCL/TRA and the Dfe dont know if their interim decision can survive a court action and are waiting on stronger guidance and/or potential upcoming changes in the teaching regulations. They have to, if they dont its going to devastate the traditional UK path into edu. No one wants to have induction hanging over their head. The direction it looks like its going too sometime in the future (the Crown has their hands full) is that youll get QTS but will no longer be exempt from induction.

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