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Arkansas State University

Professional Development for Higher Education Leaders

Educators, particularly those in higher education, know that learning never ends. Whether fulfilling responsibilities at a research university or brushing up on the latest teaching methods, continued professional development is a crucial part of the job.

For educational leaders, creating an atmosphere conducive for continued learning is critical. Educational leaders need to help catalyze and encourage the development of their peers and faculty and help them to instill similar values in students. Leaders are responsible for setting an example and having the skills to empower and motivate others is one of the best ways to foster learning and growth.

Those skills are a major focus of the Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership with a Concentration in Higher Education Administration online program at Arkansas State University (A-State). Graduates will have the skills and knowledge essential to provide strong institutional guidance, including expertise in organizational theory and leadership practices.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s dramatic effect on education across the globe, the need for educators to adapt and learn new skills has dramatically increased over the last two years. While some of the principles remain the same, there have been significant changes to many professional development strategies.

Flexibility Is Key

One of those critical strategies is the idea of agility, or the ability to respond and adapt quickly on the job. A 2020 article from Forbes declared agility to be the “order of the day” after the pandemic forced entire industries of workers to “reskill” on the fly in order to accommodate remote work.

Given the rapid shift, many leaders are foregoing plan-ahead, bloated learning experiences in favor of more agile, regular learning methods, which “better manage the revolving door of perpetual skills gaps” since employees can simple re-tool them. By integrating learning experiences more regularly in the day-to-day routine, the development of new skills and knowledge becomes a regular part of the job.

Mental Health Means Overall Health

Beyond professional well-being, leaders are gaining a better understanding of how personal well-being can affect a person’s ability to perform. The importance of mental health has seen a massive boost in awareness during the last few years, and educational leaders have made innovative attempts to adapt accordingly.

As the research portal notes, many institutions of higher learning are taking a proactive approach by making mental health awareness a part of orientation programs and other public outreach efforts in order to destigmatize treatment and encourage students to seek help. Leaders at Drexel University went a step further and created a free mental health screening program in order to encourage students to “monitor their mental health status,” as well as “counter the stigma head-on.”

Leaders should take a similar approach to faculty. Just as with students, faculty members should feel supported regarding their mental health. More importantly, they should feel comfortable addressing their mental health with leaders and have access to appropriate relief and care.

An online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degree from A-State will prepare graduates to create a healthy institution of learning that’s responsive to all community members’ needs and effectively adapt to future trends in higher education.

The Power of Online

Due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of massive open online courses (MOOC) has risen in meteoric fashion during the last two years. A 2022 post from the education publication Higher Ed Dive notes that analysts are skeptical that these programs will continue to grow at the same rate. However, remote learning programs have demonstrated real benefits, and some higher education institutions are working with MOOC providers to integrate those programs into the institution’s offerings. Educational leaders will be responsible for navigating these new learning possibilities and partnerships in the future.

Testing Shifts

Higher Ed Dive notes another pandemic-borne wrinkle that will be on educational leaders’ radar moving forward: testing in admissions. Due to the health risks of in-person testing during the pandemic, many universities suspended standardized testing requirements for admissions. Some schools, although not many, have taken this policy on full time, declining to review exam scores at all.

Time will tell if this takes root on a wider scale. As the publication notes, advocates of test-free policies argue that they “provide the more equitable road in admissions that they are seeking.” The catch is that “excising the tests from other parts of higher education — course placement, advising and financial aid — will be trickier than not considering them on applications.”

A doctorate in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education administration can equip professionals with the workplace skills to manage the trends of modern education, including (but not limited to) workplace agility, mental health programs, online learning and testing changes.

Learn more about A-State’s online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a Concentration in Higher Education Administration program.

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