Congratulations to Martin Connors
Professor Martin Connors of Athabasca University has received a Canadian Research Chair award in the amount of half a million dollars over five years. The award comes as part of a 130 million dollar investment announced by Minister of Industry Allan Rock and Gerry Byrne, Minister of State (see: http://www.chairs.gc.ca/english/Media/news/News2002/nov2002.html).
Dr. Connors now holds the research chair in Space Science, Instrumentation and Networking. His project over the next five years is to use ground based instruments to study electrical and magnetic “weather” patterns in space. These patterns can help to predict when there might be a type of space storm that can impact communication and other satellites in space. With that type of information available, it would become possible to predict when you might need to establish separate relays to ensure that communication coverage is not broken.
By being recognized in this way, Dr. Connors is also helping all of us who attend Athabasca University. The more our professors are recognized as world class researchers, the less that people can question the value of an Athabasca University degree.
Plus, it makes a great excuse to go watch the Northern Lights. It’s not just pretty, it’s research.
Ernie Eves Educating Educators
The Ontario government is opening a School of Education and Professional Learning at Trent University (see: http://www.newswire.ca/government/ontario/english/releases/November2002/13/c1554.html). The school will offer a one year Bachelor of Education for students that already have an undergraduate degree. The Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Dianne Cunningham, announced that “The new school will provide further opportunity and choice in
university programs to the Peterborough area.”
The program will also be available as a part-time course of studies “: designed to meet the needs of individuals who want to become teachers but may have family responsibilities or are pursuing alternate careers,” according to the President and Vice Chancellor of the University, Bonnie Patterson.
So let’s see here. They’re adding this School of Education and Professional Learning so that more people in a certain area can take university courses, and so that those who have alternate careers or family responsibilities can take them. Yet further on in the announcement, we see that the school will be limited to 115 full time students and 120 part time students.
Instead of spending the money creating this new school, which is limited to those in the Peterborough area, and can only accommodate 335 students total, why not just give extra grants to those students who choose to take their education degree via distance education? The courses are already prepared, there are no limits on students, and it would certainly not be limited to just the Peterborough area. In addition, whatever funding this physical school will be costing (and remember that Ontario is very big on building new buildings for their schools right now) would probably be much more than shouldering the burden of people wanting to take Education courses, and would enable those who couldn’t afford to use the new school but had the ability and talent to pursue their goals.
Basically, it’s a nice idea, but hardly an efficient use of the Ontario taxpayer dollar.
Everything Old is New Again
In Saskatchewan a new Council on Children and Youth has been formed to implement their new School Plus project (see: http://www.gov.sk.ca/newsrel/2002/11/14-872.html). The goal of this project is to make schools the centres of learning and community support for the children and families they serve. Of course, there is really nothing new about this idea at all. However Saskatchewan has decided they need a committee to study the idea and see if there is any way that it could be implemented.
Unfortunately I think they are going to find that the major obstacle to this is that most people today seem to be fairly apathetic toward their community, and parents are increasingly forced to rely on schools to provide training that the parents do not understand nor have the time to learn. Families are too busy with their own various activities, from both parents working to the kids having six kinds of lessons and classes after school that the idea of supporting the community falls quite far down the priorities list.
Still, I wish them the best of luck. If they find something, perhaps they can spread the word.
A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.