Regional consortium were established in 1995/1996 when Alberta Education asked education stakeholders from zones across the province to apply for a regional professional development consortium. The education stakeholders, (CASS, ASBA, ASBOA, ASCA, Post Secondary and ATA) made application to the ministry to develop a regional consortium. Part of the application included a school authority in the region taking on the role of agent board. The governance model included representatives from the education stakeholders in the region with Alberta Education included on the board as a nonvoting member.
Initial guidelines for establishing regional consortium (September 1995, Guidelines for Establishing Consortia.pdf defined the consortium as:
A consortium is a vehicle to link professional development, in-service and training resources at the local, regional and provincial level to support the development of the knowledge and skills necessary for all people who influence student learning. The initial guidelines identified the purpose of the consortium to….… support the successful implementation of school jurisdiction goals as identified in board education plans and school plans as well as the goals and strategies of the three year business plan. Consortia will broker, coordinate, evaluate and act as a clearinghouse for available training and development resources. Consortia also may undertake the development of professional development programs to meet emerging education needs. Consortia will provide a collaborative and coordinated approach to the delivery and support of ongoing professional development opportunities for all participants in education. Consortia will help implement school-based decision making, school councils and the functions included in redefined roles and responsibilities. Through collaboration and coordination, consortia will provide improved access to in-service, training and professional development programs at a reasonable cost. (Guidelines for Establishing Consortia September 1995)
Initial consortium funding was on a per pupil allocation as per each region. This funding model was adapted to an infrastructure budget line - primarily intended to offset the cost of an executive director, executive assistant and some office costs.
In 2000 Education Stakeholders gathered to review the consortium model– based on a committee chaired by assistant deputy ministers. The final report identified that the consortium model was serving the regions and ministry by providing learning opportunities’ designed to support capacity and implementation. The report recommended a common accountability reporting for all regional consortium, updates to the goals (currently in place), commitment by the ministry to infrastructure funding, consideration for all stakeholder groups to be represented on boards, request for Alberta Education to coordinate pd supports including representation at meetings, creation of a standardized accountability framework, and to explore alternate delivery methods to distribute adult learning across the province. The 2000 Education Stakeholders reports are:
Regional Consortium executive directors are governed by the board in each region, liaise and report to Alberta Education based on grant deliverables received and provide service to the school authorities/teachers/stakeholders in the region they work to ensure that programs are aligned with local context.
Regional consortium are often referred to as the “Alberta Regional Professional Development Consortia” as a means to communicate the services of each region collectively. With the application of various “alternate delivery” methods (e.g., video conference, webinars, webcasts, video, learning management systems, communities of practice) programs are accessible from any location of the province. Continued exploration of alternate online delivery methods continues.