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Education Degrees Aren’t Just for Teachers Anymore

Newsroom | From the Faculty April 29, 2024
Nelson Coulter Image

Education, like every other professional field, is undergoing widespread change due to both internal and external forces. Here are just some of the contextual elements that are affecting a shift in the way education is viewed, offered, and delivered: 

  • Advances in technology 
  • Robust improvements in information systems 
  • Rapid growth in leveraging artificial intelligence 
  • Marginalization of traditional credentialing and accreditation entities 
  • Workforce fluidities and requirements 
  • School choice legislation in over half the states of the U.S. 
  • “School” is assuming ever increasing shapes: public, parochial, private, charter, homeschool networks, boutiques, on demand, skill-specific, etc. 

Education is now experiencing the kind of disruption that the music and print media industries have previously seen.  
The reality is, however, that LEARNING has always been a very personal endeavor, despite our many efforts to standardize and scale it. 
The Master of Education in Educational Leadership (MEDL) and Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (MEDCI) programs at LSU – Shreveport (LSUS) aspires to be the programs of choice for ANY educator on the planet (and we have educators from all over the planet currently in our programs) would seek out to advance their own learning, and thus, the learning of all those who are influenced by them. 
Just as Dorothy (in The Wizard of Oz) famously noted that “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” so do we now find that graduate degrees in education are “Not just for K-12 environments anymore.” 
I have recently fielded several inquiries regarding the kinds of students we now serve in our LSUS MED programs who have no experience in the K-12 environment. In particular there have been questions about why someone might even be pursuing an MED degree who has never been a classroom teacher. 

While I can’t presume to speak for all of the students who fit that model, I can share with you some examples with whom I have had conversations recently about their motivations along these lines (names are pseudonyms): 

  • Larry (earned a MEDL degree) was a 69 year-old preacher when he graduated from LSUS (he's our oldest graduate in the last six years). Larry informed me that he always viewed himself as a teacher, and that he leads a team of folks who are also teachers of their “flock.” He felt like the MEDL program was a good fit in that context as he and his team are teaching learners across the entire spectrum of age/maturity. Makes sense to me. 
  • Susan (earned a MEDL degree) is a practicing pediatrician in New Orleans (yep, you read that correctly). She told me that her practice entails serving primarily children of poverty in inner city New Orleans who attend the public schools therein. Susan and her staff teach both the children and their parents/guardians lessons in wellness, nutrition, and rehabilitation. She informed me that she felt it important that, despite already being a medical doctor, earning a degree in Educational Leadership would better inform her of the role(s) the schools play in the lives of those children and the opportunities for higher alignment between her team of “teachers” and those of the schools. Makes sense to me. 
  • Bett (earned a MEDL degree) is a Director of Activities and Learning at a nursing home. Bett informed that she and the team of folks she leads are responsible for designing remedial and developmental learning tasks for folks who are at end-of-life stages as well as some younger ones who are in rehabilitative states of one kind or another. Bett felt an MED degree that would help her polish her leadership skills as well as inform her and her team of best practices in teaching and learning was the best fit for her. Makes sense to me. 
  • Toni (earned a MEDL degree) is the Chief of Staff for a state superintendent of education. In that role, Toni coordinates the team of educators who serve at the pinnacle of decision making for all the K-12 schools in her state. She informed me that she felt that a degree in Educational Leadership was the best fit for the contexts and environments in which she serves. Makes sense to me. 
  • Joe (earned a MEDCI degree) is the lead teacher of a training team in a huge multi-national organization. Their teaching team is charged with training all employees in the ongoing requirements related to legal compliance, ethical deployments, and efficient practices. Joe informed me that he felt our MEDCI program was the best fit for him as he leads a team of “teachers” (though not the K-12 variety) who are serving only adult learners. Joe very much wants to shift his team away from the construct of being “trainers” toward one of being practitioners of more engaging learning models for their employees worldwide. Makes sense to me. 
  • Ann (now earning a MEDCI degree) is the lead organizer of a homeschool association of 400 families in a large metropolitan area. While not a teacher by training or degree, she has found herself leading of team of “teachers” who are serving hundreds of students. Ann believes that improving her teaching skills, and her understanding of best practice in the deployment of education, will mean better experiences and better futures for the learners in her world. Makes sense to me. 

Learners are LEARNERS, regardless of age or location or context. The theories of learning still apply. And, always, best instructional practices are far more effective and enjoyable for both teacher and learner than the non-best versions (I’m thinking of those awful professional development experiences I survived over the years). 
The educational world is most certainly shifting under our feet. I’m not sure the best path forward for us as we ponder our role as a preparation provider in the process. But, of this I am certain: The non-adaptive will not survive in that marketplace. 
The LSUS Department of Education intends to be the school of choice for anyone who wants to be better teachers (regardless of the age of the students they serve). And, to be the exemplar that other preparation programs across the nation emulate.

Excellence seems always to require moving beyond the usual and customary.

Game on! 
*Nelson Coulter is Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at LSUS. He also serves as Director of the MEDL and MEDCI Programs. 

Become a Better Educator with LSU Shreveport 

LSUS offers a variety of online Master of Education (MED) programs designed for educators seeking to advance their careers. Whether you're a current K-12 teacher or looking to work in a different educational setting, LSUS has a program to fit your needs.

We offer two flagship programs in educational leadership and curriculum and instruction. However, both degrees offer concentrations. View all our online master’s degrees in education below: 

Why pursue an online education degree from LSUS? 

LSU Shreveport, through LSU Online, offers rigorous and affordable online Master of Education programs designed for busy educators. The flexible format allows you to complete coursework at your own pace. This structure means you can develop new skills without interrupting your work and life. Our programs also meet the standards set by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), guaranteeing you'll get a high-quality education that’s recognized in the field. In addition, the various concentrations allow you to tailor your program to your interests and career goals.  
Ready to start your journey to becoming a better educator? Learn more about our programs, or apply today!  

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