Courses developed by Teaching Commons earn certification from UK-based SEDA

Teacher in a classroom

The Teaching Commons at York University has earned a significant honour. Four of the courses offered by the Teaching Commons have received certification from the Staff Education and Development Association (SEDA), a prestigious professional association for staff and educational developers that is based in the United Kingdom.

Teaching Commons staff lead a course for graduate students
The Teaching Commons courses for teaching assistants are offered at regular intervals throughout the academic year.


Teaching Commons Director Celia Popovic says the courses were certified by the UK-based organization because a similar level of certification for professional development courses is not available in Canada.

“This is an important accomplishment,” says Popovic. “SEDA is highly regarded and to achieve this accreditation means that these courses meet specified values and outcomes, as established by SEDA’s rigorous standards. The international accreditation is difficult to achieve.”

York University is among a handful of Canadian universities to achieve SEDA certification. The University of Windsor and the University of Guelph have each achieved certification for two of their teaching development courses. York has achieved certification for four courses designed for teaching assistants and contract faculty.

“There are many benefits to this certification,” notes Popovic. “It means that the courses we offer are clearly designed and well thought out. The assessment is based on rigorous international criteria. It meant that we had ‘external eyes’ looking at our work, we were also able to see what other SEDA accredited institutions were doing.”

Teaching Commons staff
Teaching Commons staff, from left, Educational Developers Ellen Sims and Yelin Su; Director Celia Popovic; Research Assistant Mandy Frake-Mistak; Research Associate Robindra Sidhu; and Mary-Lyn Belmont, administrative assistant

The courses focus on eLearning and supervising graduate students. Popovic says the SEDA certification offers huge benefits to faculty and graduate students who complete the courses, which are offered free of charge through the Teaching Commons. Those who complete the course earn a certificate of completion and can include the courses in their teaching portfolios.

Work continues on adding courses for full-time and contract faculty to the rich portfolio of courses already offered by the Teaching Commons. As well, Popovic and Teaching Commons staff are seeking proposals for the second annual Teaching in Focus 2014 Conference: Educational Innovation & Transformation that will take place at York University on May 22, 2014. This peer reviewed conference has been developed for all teachers at York University.

“The Teaching in Focus (TIF) conference is about celebrating teaching, community building, experience sharing, scholarship of teaching and learning, and making connections to our colleagues,” says Popovic. “The theme of this year’s conference is Educational Innovation &  Transformation. We welcome contributions on innovative teaching and learning and experience sharing on effective approaches to teaching. We are particularly interested in seeking submissions on eLearning, Experiential Education, College and University collaboration, education transformation and student engagement.”

Instructors from across the University are invited to present their experiences through:

  • poster sessions

To submit a proposal, complete the conference proposal form and submit it by Dec. 23.

Information about last year’s TIF conference is available on the Teaching Commons website.