Survey for professional development providers on using shared communication tools

We invite professional development providers to help us make it easier for U of A faculty and staff to find information about PD.

Human Resource Services has a strategic goal to support professional development (PD) across the institution. As a result, we created a new email listserv that currently has over 6,000 subscribers to promote professional development opportunities and resources that are relevant to working at the U of A.

PD opportunities include: workshops, programs, lectures, etc., for U of A employees.

PD resources include: links to articles/posts on topics relating to skill development, individual and leadership development, links to other internal learning providers and curated external organizations (Academic Impressions, Neuroleadership Institute, Vitalsmarts, Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion) that provide or promote PD that might be relevant to U of A employees.

In addition, we are exploring possibilities to better leverage the Learning and Development page on the Faculty and Staff website to post articles, resources, and opportunities that are relevant to PD at the U of A.

We are looking for input on how these communication tools might be used to increase awareness of, and access to, professional development opportunities within the institution. We invite professional development providers to help us make it easier for U of A faculty and staff to find information about PD. Let's work together to highlight our services, support each other's work, and reach more of our target audiences.

Please fill out this survey by the end of day, May 15, 2020. We estimate that the survey will take 10-15 minutes to complete. Please fill in the form as best as you can. We may contact you to get clarity on your responses, or discuss further if needed. If you have questions about this survey, please contact Sanchit Vachhar at

Definition of a PD Provider: We define U of A PD providers as units who have a mandate (explicit direction and resources) to provide PD opportunities relevant to working at the institution. Providers serve a broad segment of faculty and staff by providing content and experiences to support the development of skills and knowledge needed to thrive at the U of A in a variety of roles. For example, Human Resource Services has a mandate to provide several leadership and core competency programs targeted at U of A employees. Similarly, providers may offer PD within a specific segment of the U of A, such as for communications professions, Advancement professionals, Faculty of Engineering, etc. 

Who is not considered a provider for the purposes of this initiative? Examples include:
  • Individuals who are interested in PD for themselves
  • Supervisors/leaders who encourage and support their staff's development or who provide a PD retreat for their own team
  • A unit that provides PD that is not related to working at the U of A, such as providing yoga, or continuing education credits for professional designations. While there may be U of A staff interested in such development, they may not serve the development of skills that a broad range of roles might need to work at the U of A.
Definition of Professional Development: We have defined professional development (PD) as:
  • A continuing process of learning associated with identifying and developing one’s potential by gaining or maintaining professional knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, behaviours, and attitudes to be personally effective in one’s work, and meet individual, area, and organizational objectives. PD includes personal development and leadership development to fulfill various roles and continuously enhancing one's personal effectiveness.
  • PD supports and encourages meeting both the demands of one’s current role and in developing one’s future career. It can be accessed via a range of methods, both within and outside the workplace, involving formal and informal education, exposure (to social networks where people can learn from each other) or experience (building knowledge through practical application on the job).
  • Examples include, but are not limited to, academic degrees, earning professional credentials, attending conferences and/or workshops, online learning, self-directed learning, mentorship, coaching, secondments, job shadowing, projects, on the job training, etc.

Why did we create a new email list? The recent work done by the Professional Development Working Group examined access to professional development (Objective 15). We found that most employees don’t know where to look for PD opportunities, and there is no central place where people can find info about PD. With so many units providing PD, it can be confusing to know where to look. The email list is a step towards addressing this gap.

Why not just use the employee digest? There are often a lot of messages on the digest, with varying degrees of relevance to employees. For people who are very interested in PD, they have to wade through many posts, and opportunities may be missed. A mailing list dedicated to PD opportunities can provide info relating specifically to PD.

What else? In our consultations on Objective 15 we also proposed the idea of a community of practice (COP) for PD providers, which can serve as a collaborative resource network. A COP can enable capacity-building, improved communications, reduced duplication, and enhanced processes and practices relating to providing PD at the U of A.

We are happy to share high-level results of this survey with those who participate.