Innovation in Education

Innovation in Education

CityU Alumni Spotlight: Heather Leslie

Innovation drives the educational experience at CityU. When Heather Leslie, class of 2019, was looking to advance her career in higher education, she was referred to CityU’s Master of Education in Adult Learning and Instructional Design by Pressley Rankin, an Associate Professor and Program Director at CityU. Despite already having an MBA and a doctorate in business, Heather was more interested in pedagogy and the operations of higher education and wanted to find a practical way to apply her knowledge and background to her work, while still maintaining the freedom to explore innovative approaches to education. In order to do that, she knew that she needed a degree catered to that field.

“What I really loved about this program was that all the projects you did, you could apply them in some way to what you were doing in work,” Heather said, “The instructors really encouraged practical application of what you were learning, and I really think that’s the best way for adult learners.” Having a program that was so applicable to her professional life helped ensure that what she was learning was meaningful and relevant. Heather also mentioned that “The program went by quickly and I actually enjoyed doing the papers and things like that because I was applying it to my real job.” In fact, Heather was even able to use some of her papers and turn them into published works in her field.

Heather now works as an Instructional Designer and Faculty Developer at the University of San Diego. This past year, she was able to use her CityU education to drive her professional work. “They couldn’t have classes on campus, so they looked to our team to develop faculty training on how to do Zoom and Blackboard,” Heather said. “It’s usually all about the campus, so online learning was not really there; not many faculty had ever used Blackboard.” Heather and her team were charged with developing a program over the summer of 2020 to lead the transition from in-person to virtual learning, including instructing faculty on how to use Blackboard, design online courses, and use Zoom. Heather’s team facilitated 20 courses over the summer and over 300 faculty members completed the course. The success of the program led to Heather and her team receiving the Blackboard Catalyst Award for Learning and Professional Development, an award recognizing their innovative training and development programs.

When asked about her current work, Heather said, “I really like being creative … I think when I get the chance to be creative and run with ideas, I really enjoy that. I enjoy having that freedom to experiment and try new things and collaborate and brainstorm with others on how to do that and make it happen.” Heather plans to continue working on innovative programs and courses to promote adult learning. She wants to focus on “learning design” and the overall student experience in order to facilitate learning. CityU’s Master of Education in Adult Education and Instructional Design was developed to encourage that creativity and sense of innovation, while providing relevant and constructive feedback to students.

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about CityU’s Master of Education in Adult Education and Instructional Design program, please visit or call 888.422.4898 to speak to an advisor.

Published August 23, 2021



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