March 3, 2009 — Parkland College is currently offering a face-to-face class in the Master of Educational Administration program in Yorkton. This class is the second in a series of ten classes from the University of Saskatchewan that students must take to receive their Master degree. The class consists of twenty-two students from four school divisions and will work together as a cohort, concluding in 2011.
“Parkland College has enjoyed a partnership with the University of Saskatchewan since 1974, primarily as a first-year, Arts and Science program”, stated Shawn Stoneham, Manager, University Programs at Parkland College. “Today, this partnership has evolved to include full-degree programs thus enabling access for local teachers at the master’s level providing professional development, higher academic qualifications and a means to remain current with changes in the teaching profession.” This partnership also supports the University of Saskatchewan’s long-term goal of outreach and engagement with Saskatchewan communities outlined in the 2006 University Integrated Plan.
Acting as an intermediary, the Center for Continuing and Distance Education, a department of the University of Saskatchewan, is helping the University to provide an array of courses and other curricular offerings that meet the needs of 21st century learners. This array includes enabling adult learners to overcome geographic, economic, social, and personal challenges to continuing their education. It also involves flexible access to both on-campus and off-campus students to degree-level courses. This program is just one example of a model for comprehensive, “Community-based Education.”
This program allows local educators to participate in meaningful, professional development in the convenience of their home community, without having to take a leave of absence from their workplace. “Teachers can participate in a master’s-level program while continuing with some resemblance of a normal home-life. Participants can complete the program within three years by taking face-to-face courses offered locally, augmented with a few online courses offered directly from the University of Saskatchewan”, said Stoneham. This program also provides on-campus faculty with the opportunity to teach in an off-campus site, thereby enriching and broadening their own experiences in the classroom.
This is the fourth outreach or off-campus Master of Educational Administration offered by the University of Saskatchewan in the province: Onion Lake (completed in December, 2008), Tisdale, North Battleford, and now Yorkton. According to Sheila Carr-Stewart, Department Head for Educational Administration at the University of Saskatchewan, “These programs ground the university to the province as a whole and demonstrate that the university is open to the people of Saskatchewan. In today’s world, we have people well-established in their careers, living in rural Saskatchewan, looking to upgrade their skills.”
Interest in part-time, off-campus studies is increasing to match the lifestyles of the participants in these programs. This program also serves as a catalyst for other departments such as Educational Psychology and Special Education who would also be interested running programs using this model of delivery.