Faculty of Education’s professional learning opportunities offer many paths to growth

Educators and educational leaders are always seeking ways to improve their pedagogy, their classrooms, their school environments and the systems in which they work. The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education offers professional learning opportunities that are more relevant, more flexible and more accessible than ever for education professionals in Alberta and beyond who want to continue growing and learning while pursuing their careers.

Scott Key, director of Professional Learning in the Faculty of Education, says prospective learners can choose their route to professional growth through face-to-face and online learning experiences that lead to a graduate degree, a graduate certificate or other professional learning opportunities. And, he says, the Faculty is poised to respond with new offerings as the needs of education professionals evolve.

“There are three streams of professional learning. The first is master’s degrees, the Master of Education in Educational Studies and Master of Education in Health Sciences, which people can take online so they can stay in their jobs while completing a graduate degree. Also, it will allow people to stay in their home communities,” Key said.

“The second stream is graduate certificates, which are shorter educational experiences, such as the Graduate Certificate in School Leadership, which is tied to the leadership quality standard (LQS and SLQS) in Alberta.”

Key says the third stream, continuing professional learning, comprises credit and non-credit courses, workshops, and intensives to support maintaining currency of professional practice.

“These focus on areas of very specific need such as technology, special education, inclusive education, Indigenous education—whatever the field is telling us they need,” he said.

School leadership certificate ladders into master’s program

José da Costa, a professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, is part of the team of faculty members who developed the courses for completing the Graduate Certificate in School Leadership. He says two of the courses lead to Alberta Principal (LQS) certification, with a third additional course leading to System Leader (SLQS) certification. These three courses, along with one elective, lead to the completion of the Graduate Certificate in School Leadership, which ladders into the recently updated Master of Education in Educational Administration and Leadership program.

Da Costa says the graduate certificate courses and the master’s program reflect cutting edge scholarship, as well as aligning with Alberta’s most recent educational quality standards.

“We really did want to make sure our courses were focused on contemporary work of leaders and the state of the art of research that drives educational research. And we wanted to make sure we were in alignment with the LQS and SLQS so that the people who come to study with us develop a deep understanding of the competencies that exist within those standards,” da Costa said.

“So, it’s really about developing deep understanding of critical dimensions of leadership specific to this province—but that doesn’t mean it’s not of value to people outside this province, including international students.”

Informed by experience, grounded in scholarship

Da Costa added that the courses are delivered by faculty members having both practical experience and a grounding in scholarship who can inspire aspiring educational leaders to be innovative in their thinking.

“What distinguishes us from similar programs is that we really do encourage our students to challenge fundamental assumptions about education and leadership, so they can think about ways they can approach education that goes beyond what is commonly accepted,” da Costa said. “We want them to unpack why we do what we do, and think about ways we can do the work better.”

Key says the focus of the Faculty of Education’s professional learning opportunities is helping educators and educational leaders meet their professional goals, but with an even greater goal in mind.

“We want every student to have the best school experience possible,” Key said. “Part of the mandate of the Faculty is to help the field of education—schools, really—to be as good as they can be in Alberta. We believe we have the expertise to help educators.. We want to bring that expertise to the field.”