InterGovWorld's Spotlight series profiles Executives, decision-makers and their initiatives across all levels of Canadian government.(CSA Photo)
Part 2 of InterGovWorld's Spotlight on Marilyn Steinberg from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Steinberg discusses the impact of video-conferencing technology on learning, CSA's agreement with Industry Canada and Alberta Education, and a memorable highlight of her job post 9/11.
Our subsidies program has been in place for about a couple of years. Students and educators come from an environment where they don't typically have a huge number of financial resources at their discretion to go out and participate in true learning opportunities outside the classroom. I'm talking about engaged learning opportunities, competitions, and workshops at a variety of levels. This grant program provides educators and students at all levels the opportunity to come to us, and tell us how they would like to learn. We will help them out with their travel, accommodations, and registration because the one thing we want them to do is go and learn and not worry about the rest of the logistics.
With our website we have about 300,000 visits a year from educators specifically to our educator resource section; and we know that they're downloading content that we make available to them for use in the classroom. We have educators here every summer that provide professional development via video-conferencing and distance education.
For our video-conferencing we usually work with about four or five thousand students on a yearly basis and that's because we do a maximum of 50 workshops during the school-year. We work with the host, the educator and the technical gurus, and actually hold at least five video-conferencing meetings with them before we ever get to the workshop itself. We feel it's very important to address the technology issues first to ensure that: there's sufficient technology, it's going to work flawlessly, and that everybody's on the same wavelength. This is done so that when we get to the workshop that educator is not concerned about the technology - it simply becomes another tool.
Q) Industry Canada and Alberta Education signed a four-year collaborative agreement to enhance science education through video-conference sessions with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Is this agreement seeking to address declining interest among students to pursue science and technology learning at the post-secondary level?
A) We hope that our efforts are really going to contribute to developing a strong science culture in this country. There is a challenge right now that's been identified which is ensuring that students are engaged and that they're inspired by science. And we're doing that at the Canadian Space Agency with the kind of content and the quite brilliant people we have to offer. They're not only brilliant but also capable of sharing what they know at a level and in a way that students can not only understand but embrace. I think that we're well-placed to contribute in a really positive and fundamental way to the challenge that's presented.