Program Insights

5 Distinctive Reasons to Choose Concordia’s STEAM Concentration

By Sarah Elliott, EdD January 17, 2018

When you whip up a concoction of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, the results can be utterly powerful. Through STEAM projects, students learn creativity, innovation, practical knowledge, and blue-sky thinking. They seek answers, solve problems, and gain a collection of skills coveted by 21st-century employers. Without question, STEAM is where it’s at. And a degree focused on STEAM is one of the smartest decisions you could make.

As you shop for the MEd program that’s right for your interest in STEAM, we’d like to tell you about ours. Here’s why our Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction: STEAM is one of our most popular online graduate programs.

1. It’s about STEAM, not STEM. (And our “A” might not be what you think it is.)

Years ago, we actually offered a master’s program dedicated to just STEM. But when it became blatantly obvious that the arts are just as important for student success, we switched gears. What we offer today is a curriculum that’s earnestly cutting-edge, designed by STEAM professionals, and fully supportive of the “a” in STEAM.

But here, the arts mean more than painting and drawing. We believe that STEAM means integrating the fine arts, language arts, and humanities into everyday learning. It means students are writing papers about Albert Einstein in English, drawing what they see under the microscope in biology, and thinking critically about the physics of ballet. But most importantly, STEAM means educators teaching to each student’s strengths, allowing students to use different skill sets to solve a problem.

(And all of this is why we were thrilled to host John Maeda — former RISD president and nationally known STEAM proponent — on our campus to speak about the importance of this revolutionary national movement.)

2. We care about what you teach.

Our professors want to know what you do specifically in your school so that we can make your experience in our program as valuable as possible. Are you a fourth-grade science teacher who wants to integrate design-thinking skills, or are you an eighth-grade music teacher looking to add elements of engineering? We’ve taught robotics teachers, wood-shop teachers, auto-shop teachers, and theater and art teachers. Whatever your forte, we’ll give you specific tools and strategies to successfully bring STEAM into your classroom. And through our very easy-to-use online learning platform, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to chat with your peers throughout the program — asking them specific questions about your workplace, and helping them with suggestions for theirs.

3. But you don’t even have to be a teacher to benefit from our program.

The majority of our students in each course are classroom teachers at various levels (preschool through college-aged), but we’ve had several professionals in various educational and non-education fields benefit from our curriculum. A few examples: an Air Force officer taking it for enrichment but also for best practices, as he facilitated a lot of field trainings; a children’s museum worker who was developing STEAM-enhanced summer programming; an environmental scientist whose company was exploring options for offering outdoor education/outreach programming; and a dental hygienist looking for information to help her lead workshops with other hygienists.

What do you do for work? Chances are, you can modify and adapt the assignments to your specific circumstances — making your time in our program meaningful, relevant, and manageable.

4. The courses build upon each other.

One of the things we often hear alumni say is that they appreciated how their coursework would build, that each course springs off from the previous one. The way we designed the structure — core courses, then concentration courses, then capstone — was purposeful: we don’t just want you memorizing the terms and completing assignments just to complete them. We believe in an iterative process, a progression, where you really absorb the material and then take the natural next steps.

Concentration courses include Foundations of STEAM Education, STEAM Integration in the PreK-12 Classroom, From Theory to Practice: Developing a STEAM-Enhanced Curriculum, and STEAM Program Leadership. It’s the perfect flow to make sure you’re getting a return on your investment.

5. Our online teachings radiate from our first-of-its-kind campus in Portland.

In 2017, the nation’s first 3toPhD® campus opened in Portland, Oregon, a result of a pioneering partnership with Concordia University-Portland, Portland Public Schools, Faubion School, Trillium Family Services, Kaiser Permanente, and Basics. In one 138,000-square-foot building, you’ll find our College of Education, PreK-8 students, counseling services, medical services, a food club, and makerspaces where STEAM-based projects come to life, every single day.

What does this mean for online students? It means that the team who brainstormed, executed, and work within this revolutionary model of education is the same team behind your degree. Your online courses and experience will reflect the same level of innovation, energy, and creativity housed here in Portland. (And whenever they’re in town, our online students are, of course, welcome to stop by!)

Dr. Sarah Elliott is an adjust professor in Concordia University-Portland’s MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: STEAM professor. Find out what inspires her, what she teaches, and more.

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