Alumni Spotlight: Instructional Technology Coach Daniela Keeler on Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age
Daniela worked as a high school English teacher for five years before getting her Master of Education degree from the University of San Diego. After completing her master’s, Daniela landed her current role as an instructional technology coach teaching literacy in the digital age and helping teachers effectively integrate technology into their classrooms.
1. Why did you decide to get your master’s of education degree?
I knew that technology was going to be very important in the classroom and I didn’t know much about how I was going to implement that. I wanted to become a better teacher. I looked at programs for a year and nothing jumped out at me until I saw the digital literacy specialization at the University of San Diego. Once I saw that I knew that was where I wanted to take my practice and where I wanted to go to school.
The position I currently hold was a new position for the district. I didn’t know this job even existed when I went back to school. But when I was going through the University of San Diego program I started to learn what I liked doing in regards to technology and the classroom – and I implemented a lot of technology into my classroom during that year and a half I was in the program and teaching high school English. I remember telling my husband, if I could just take these lessons I’m learning and teach other people how to do it I would prefer doing that. And then I heard about the new instructional technology coach position in my district!
2. Why did you choose the University of San Diego?
I was doing so many extra curricular activities that I needed the flexibility of an online program. Concordia had an online program but they didn’t have the specialization in digital literacy that the University of San Diego had. I also felt like the University of San Diego was going to be more interactive in that I would be more in touch with my professors and it wouldn’t just be Blackboard.
3. How did the University of San Diego Master’s program help you get to where you are today?
I am ecstatic I went to the University of San Diego. I would not have the position I have now if I hadn’t gone through the University of San Diego Master of Education program. There is a teacher in my district that has applied for my current position four times. I thought for sure that teacher would get the position over me, but I think that being in the University of San Diego program gave me an edge.
Being in the program changed my whole career path. Now in my current position at the district office I have a wider perspective of what’s going on in my district, which gives me a broader perspective as to what is going on in education as a whole.
4. What did you like best about the University of San Diego’s Master of Education program? Is there anything you would change?
I felt like my professors were still practicing what they were teaching. Jen Roberts, for example, was one of my professors. Jen is a high school English teacher who is incorporating technology into her classroom and is a huge voice in the education field. I am currently at an education conference and Jen is one of the speakers here! University of San Diego, overall, has an amazing staff.
5. Do you feel that there is a certain skill or set of skills you gained from the University of San Diego’s master’s program?
I am one of six instructional technology coaches in my district. Going through the master’s program at the University of San Diego taught me so much more about what it means to be digitally literate. I have so much more understanding of the learning process behind literacy in the digital age and what it means to get there. I feel like I bring a lot to the table for my team in terms of what we should be focusing on – and it’s not just the technology, it’s the student learning as well. Because of the master’s program, I find myself focusing much more than my peers on student learning and comprehension in regards to technology in the classroom and digital literacy.
6. Do you think getting a master’s degree or some sort of digital literacy education is important for teachers?
I think that lots of schools are beginning to implement technology in the classroom. Kids are getting inundated with technology and I don’t know that teachers are really prepared for it.
I wish all the instructional technology coaches in my district and even my superiors, including the superintendent, would have gone through the master’s program with me. Everyone needs to understand what it is like to be a digital native. Kids today are coming from a whole different world than we came from. In order to make that paradigm shift there needs to be a lot of teacher education, otherwise, all this technology isn’t going to be meaningful in the classroom.
7. What advice would you give to someone that is considering pursuing a Master of Education degree?
If someone is looking for an online program it does give you the flexibility but don’t for a second think it’s going to be easier. Because instead of having those in class conversations that you would normally reap a lot of benefit from, you are reading. The reading load is a lot heavier. The University of San Diego program felt just as rigorous as an in-person program.
The University of San Diego accepts students on a rolling basis in the Fall, Spring and Summer for admission into the 100% online Master of Education degree program – which offers five distinct specializations, S.T.E.A.M, Curriculum & Instruction, Literacy & Digital Learning, Inclusive Learning, and School Leadership. If you are interested in advancing your career and education or learning more about literacy in the digital age consider speaking with a USD admissions advisor.