May 27, 2021

Continuing Education sweeps honours at national awards

Adult education continues to evolve, with UCalgary at the forefront
Screencapture from Continuing Education's award-winning video, Online Learning with Continuing Education
From Continuing Education's award-winning video, Online Learning with Continuing Education.

With a swath of new awards, University of Calgary Continuing Education continues to redefine the concept of adult and lifelong learning.

For the first time, the department enjoyed a clean sweep of the annual awards of excellence presented by the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (CAUCE), bringing home honours in all three of the major streams: Program Awards, Design and Marketing Awards, and the Graduate Student Research Award.

“We’re really hitting our stride in terms of quality of programs, marketing and research work,” says Dr. Sheila LeBlanc, DBA, director of continuing education and CAUCE’s president-elect. “This brings to the forefront our Continuing Education team — we have some of the best-in-class in the nation.”

Certifying education leaders

The Alberta Education Superintendent Leadership Certification program, developed to address a provincial mandate that those seeking top jobs in school division administration be certified, received the Program Award for Non-Credit Programming Under 48 Hours.

MacDonald Oguike, associate director of corporate training, Continuing Education.

MacDonald Oguike.

“Our program is unique because it’s about leadership development … taught by people who have previously been superintendents,” says MacDonald Oguike, associate director of corporate training with Continuing Education. “We worked with the Werklund School of Education and [external partners] to develop the program using issues and real-life situations superintendents face as case studies.

“There is a set of competencies people need to meet to become superintendents, and a lot of principals who want to [move up] already have their master’s, and we were one of the few schools that were given a grant to do this program by the Ministry of Education.”

Oguike says although geared for Alberta, educators from other provinces have expressed interest in taking it.

Adult learning evolves

For graduate student Christina White Prosser, BA’94, being honoured for her research into continuing education engagement in correctional facilities demonstrates how the concept of “adult learning” has evolved beyond personal-interest and simple skills upgrading.

“Adult learning is not just about adding a few new tools to your toolkit,” says White Prosser, who convocates in June with a Doctor of Education in educational research/adult learning and teaches master’s students at the Werklund School of Education. “It’s about transitioning to a different chapter of life.

“In [correctional facilities], the pathways are the same as many adults who are trying to find new ways to contribute to society. The incarcerated students who participated in my research study are considered vulnerable individuals … who desire nothing more than to be who they are and interact with the world in the best way possible. The big piece is not just skill sets, but believing you can function within the community positively after being released.”

Award-winning communications

Communicating about what Continuing Education has to offer is key to maintaining its success as UCalgary’s third-largest teaching unit, with an average 20,000 enrolments per year. This makes its two CAUCE wins for the video, Online Learning with Continuing Education (Best in Design and Advertising – Broadcast and Video) and an Email Marketing honour for the UCalgary Personalized Certificate Campaign all the more significant, says Gabriela Santamaria, associate director of marketing communications.

“We’re always trying to be true pioneers in using the latest tools … and evolve to do something better for our students,” she says.

The personalized email campaign proactively reminds students how many courses are left to complete their certificate and keeps them informed on when registrations open. The video provides a concise, attractively animated overview of how online learning works through Continuing Education.

“We’re becoming a centre of excellence for continuing education … not only in how we create and offer programming, but in learning services, technology and marketing, and we’re helping other [UCalgary] units reach the adult education market, which is very different from the undergraduate market,” says Santamaria.

LeBlanc says these awards highlight how Continuing Education “is a responsive educational unit that works with faculty, community partners and industry to … bring the latest knowledge and skills to the workforce. [We] assist in economic development by keeping higher-skilled practitioners at the top of their game.”

The awards are part of the 2021 CAUCE Conference, which runs from May 25 to 27.

Continuing Education offers a wide range of programs ranging from professional development and programs for international students, to personal interest courses. For more information, visit the website or phone 403-220-2866.