Who do Educational Developers Support?

Indirectly the role of an educational developer is to support students and to ensure that they receive the best possible education from their institution in each classroom that they enter. To do this, educational developers work closely with anyone who teaches within their institution. Therefore, educational developers primarily support course directors and teaching assistants, providing them with direction, techniques, strategies, problem solving and professional development. However, other individuals who teach in higher education can include librarians, student support staff, etc., who are thus also supported by educational developers, but perhaps to a lesser extent.

The support provided to those who teach may come in the form of individual consultations, one-day orientation events or certificate programs or courses, but most often the teaching centre in which most educational developers work provides a series of workshops to course directors and teaching assistants. Often each group has their own set of workshops directed toward their specific role. The following are some examples of workshop topics most often included:

  • Curriculum or course design
  • e-Learning
  • Experiential Education

Recommended Resources for those who Teach

Some highlights from this reading list:

  • Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Biggs, J. B., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university (4th ed.).  New York, NY: Open University Press/Mc Graw-Hill Education.
  • Huston, Therese. (2012). Teaching what you don’t know. USA: Harvard University Press.
  • Nilson, Linda B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • A list of publications by Phil Race available here: http://phil-race.co.uk/publications/

Who do Educational Developers Work With?

In addition to supporting those that teach, like course directors, graduate students or teaching assistants etc., educational developers also work with these same individuals, in collaboration when designing and facilitating workshops for example or supporting their teaching colleagues. Although supporting these individuals often occurs on a daily basis, in the role of an educational developer, working with them may range from day-to-day or month-to-month or it may be more concentrated when working on a specific project or more sporadic, in accordance with the needs and availability of those who teach.

Educational developers also interact with administrators, like the Vice-President of Teaching and Learning, the Deans and Associate Deans of Teaching and Learning, and other academic staff members from across the institution, like librarians and other student support staff who share a common goal, enriching student learning. In some cases, staff members with other titles and roles, like technology specialists, instructional designers, research assistants and other similar titles with similar or different roles, belong to the same teaching centre that educational developers belong to and thus work closely with them too.

Most importantly, educational developers work with other educational developers, usually with colleagues that work within the same teaching centre, but there is also increasing opportunity to work with educational developers both nationally and internationally on a more consistent basis from sharing best practices to collaborating on research projects and publications. The following networking opportunities facilitate collaboration among educational developers.

Membership and Communities of Practice


  • STLHE: The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education  – http://www.stlhe.ca/
    • As a Professional Society, it is important to provide a forum for Educational Developers from across Canada to meet and exchange ideas, make new contacts and reflect on their practice.
    • Become a Member!
  • EDC: Educational Developers Caucus – http://www.stlhe.ca/constituencies/educational-developers-caucus/
    • A broad subsection within the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), the EDC is a “community of practice” within STLHE that seeks to further professionalize the Educational Development as a practice and as a discipline. The site contains a strategic plan for the future, useful definitions, records and resources from past conferences and many practical, useful tools for EDs seeking ideas for their practice on individual and institutional levels. In the Age of the Network (Sorcinelli 2006), this site, and membership in the STLHE/EDC, is highly recommended.
    • Become a Member!


  • HERDSA: Higher Educational Research and Development Society of Australasia – http://www.herdsa.org.au/
  • ICED: The International Consortium for Educational Development – http://icedonline.net/

    • A well-organized, professional group, ICED is formed of Presidents from their respective countries professional SoTL societies. Canada, for instance, is represented by STLHE President Robert Lapp. A key professional journal, The International Journal of Academic Development, is published by this group.
    • Become a Member of your corresponding ICED Member Organization
  • ISSOTL: International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning –  http://www.issotl.com/issotl15/
    • The ISSOTL features a broad interdisciplinary coalition of educations from 67 countries who have a common interest in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Their website (http://www.issotl.com/issotl15/ ) features a peer-reviewed Journal.
    • Become a Member!
  • POD: Professional and Organizational Development http://podnetwork.org/
    • This American based network is an important 40-year old organization of Educational professionals in the United States.
    • Become a Member!
  • SEDA: The United Kingdom’s Staff and Educational Development Association – http://www.seda.ac.uk
    • SEDA is one of the original and most influential national groups focused on Educational Development. Much of the Scholarship in this resource comes from SEDA, and they are leaders in the production of the SoTL.
    • SEDA publishes many excellent resources on Educational Development, both in re: theory and more practical aspects of Scholarly Teaching under the Routledge Staff and Educational Development Series, such as Celia Popovich and Ed Green’s Understanding Undergraduates (2011).
    • The SEDA journal Innovations in Education and Teaching International (IETI) features peer reviewed publications concerning Scholarly Teaching, eLearning, and encourages international perspectives. http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/riie20/current
    • Become a Member!

Provincial Organizations



  • STLHE: The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education – http://www.stlhe.ca/conferences-events/stlhe-annual-conference/
    • In 2020,  the Conference will be held in Ottawa.
    • In 2019, the Conference met in Winnipeg (http://stlhe2019sapes.ca/)
    • In 2018, the Conference met in Sherbrooke (http://stlhe2018sapes.ca/)
    • In 2017, the Conference met in Halifax (http://stlhe2017sapes.ca/).
    • In 2016, the Society met in London, ON (http://stlhe2016sapes.ca/).
    • In 2015, the Society met in Vancouver (http://stlhe2015sapes.ca/) . The World Café method of problem solving/discussion is featured, and the Conference also features the Annual general meeting of the STLHE.
      • The World Café is an organization that promotes conversation as the core method of problem solving. Accordingly, they organize, produce and promote round-table discussion amongst key stakeholders on a given critical issue (for instance, “What are the core competencies of an Educational Developer?”). This may reflect organized in-person meetings or the innovative use of social media technology to conference “face-to-face” disparate stakeholders.
  • EDC: Educational Developers Caucus – http://www.stlhe.ca/constituencies/educational-developers-caucus/edc-conferences/
    • The yearly meeting of the STLHE’s Educational Developers Caucus considered broad questions concerning the growth and development of the profession in Canada. The 2015 meeting in Winnipeg considered managing growth as ED and SoTL is increasingly accepted in Canadian Universities, and the dearth of experienced mentors to guide new EDs in their growth.
    • The 2018 Conference in Victoria had a theme of Educational Developers Gaining an Edge (EDGE)
    • The 2017 Conference in Guelph (“(re)Thinking Tradition”) had a theme of traditions in educational development.


Provincial Organizations

Working Groups

Discussion Opportunities

Who Are You as an Educational Developer?

A number of factors influence who you are as an Educational Developer (ED), from the path you took (or are taking) to become an ED, to the specific job description you currently hold as well as your future goals and aspirations. To determine who you are as an ED, there are two questions to answer: “What kind of educational developer were you hired to be?” and “What kind of educational developer do you want to be?”

What kind of Educational Developer were you hired to be?

Your path to becoming an ED obviously has an influence on who you are because your previous experiences contribute to the achievement of your position. Your path and past experience determine your qualifications and the type of ED you were (first) hired to be. However this is not the only factor that influences who you are. The institution or organization in which you were hired also contributes a number of factors, from your specific job description to the resources available to you.

“The range and type of programs and services offered by development units are shaped by a number of factors, not the least of which are the needs and interests of faculty and academic staff.” (Lewis, 2010, p. 15)

The local expectations (i.e. the focus and values of the institution), needs of faculty and academic staff, resources etc. influence who you are as an ED. For example, if your institution focuses heavily on research, you as an ED may have more time allotted (in your job description) to research and publications. In addition, if your institution has sufficient resources, you may have more opportunity to present your research at conferences, or attend conferences to engage in collaborative research with colleagues internationally. On the other hand, if the faculty and academic staff at your institution are in need of support in a particular area, like quality assurance, you may be required to spend more time with individual and group consultations, workshops and focus groups with less opportunity for research, publications and conferences, or your research may be focused on this particular area of need.

What kind of Educational Developer do you want to be?

Even though the local expectations influence who you are, this should not limit your future goals and aspirations. Knowing who you are and who you want to be is very powerful in determining how you can become the ED you want to be and succeed! The following resources can help you determine your educational developer identity and the next section can help you become and then succeed as the ED you want to be.

Land (2001, 2004) develops what he calls “orientations to educational development” which is a great place to start in determining how you identify yourself as an ED, that is, how you would describe your current role(s) and how you would describe the educational developer you aspire to be.  Land (2001) summarizes the different orientations and links them to “concepts of change”.  Table 1 of Land (2001) may be most helpful to you in first identifying how you might categorize yourself as an ED, while Land (2004) is a  full-length text which uses extensive interviews and second sources to explore the different orientations employed by EDs to succeed in their work (i.e. managerial, strategic, romantic etc.).

The next step in exploring and articulating your educational developer identity is to write your educational developer philosophy statement.  At the EDC Institute in 2015, Natasha Hannon facilitated a session, “Discover, Dream, Design: Our Identities as Educational Developers”, which took participants through the process of an appreciative inquiry and a series of handouts to use this experience to develop one’s educational developer philosophy statement.


Suggested Reading List

  • Land, R. (2004). Educational development: Discourse, identity and practice. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
    • This full-length text is one of the seminal works in ED literature. In his 200 page text Land uses extensive interviews and second sources to explore the different orientations employed by EDs to succeed in their work (i.e. managerial, strategic, romantic etc.). The text also suggests some broad patterns for EDs to consider when facing resistance to pedagogical change among faculty. The book ends by using the first two parts to provide tactics for EDs in adapting to, and coping with, complex university cultures.
  • Land, R. (2001). Agency, context and change in academic development. The International Journal for Academic Development, 6(1), 4-20.
    • This text is a precursor to Land’s Educational Development, and covers some of the same ground, albeit in a much shorter space. The inclusion of graphics and tables make a complex theory easier to follow than Land’s full-length text. The article’s main focus concerns how EDs can manage change (in teaching practices) and promotes the Japanese concept of Kai Zen (continuous improvement). Land argues that EDs are unlike all other University workers, in that they “have no vested interest in maintaining the status quo” (10).
  • Lewis, K. G. (2010). Pathways toward improving teaching and learning in higher education: International context and background. In J. McDonald & D. Stockley (Eds.), Pathways to the professional of educational development (13-23). San Francisco : Jossey-Bass.
    • This chapter provides an overview of the history of educational development and includes international variations and similarities.   More specifically, Lewis provides an overview of the historic need for teaching and learning centres and a summary of their program areas.  To help you in communicating and connecting with educational developers internationally, a section on international  terminology is included, as well as a list of the national teaching and learning organizations.

*This project was supported by a 2014 Educational Developers Caucus (EDC) Grant of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE).