Annual Report 2010: FY July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010
The general mission of the Education Committee is to act as a resource and provide an advisory capability to the newly created AAPG Education Directorate. This follows the general conclusion of AAPG’s recent external review to build up AAPG education programs nationally and globally. To this end, the committee is also charged with helping recommend and identify instructors and course content for new regional AAPG offices in London, Bahrain, and Singapore. The decision to build up the AAPG Education program occurred during a significant increase in global oil prices with a concomitant increase in new hires within industry, but the subsequent creation of the new Education directorate was followed by global recession, partial collapse in oil prices, as well as slowing of hiring. This scenario creates an ongoing challenge to the desire and implementation of the AAPG expansion of education programs.
Three committee meetings were held: December 5, 2009, in Dallas – mid-year meeting; April 14, 2010, in New Orleans-annual meeting; and April 15, 2010, in New Orleans–strategic planning session. In addition, our committee reviewed 14 new course proposals in this fiscal year and approved 12. Of those 12, 7 have been scheduled in 2010, and the other 5, will most likely be added in 2011.
Several new concepts and products were introduced in the last fiscal cycle, including the introduction of several successful web-based Internet courses (e-symposia) and a self-study Open Courseware program, funded by the AAPG Foundation. This is an emerging area for growth for AAPG. Web-based content may be viewed in real-time or post-presentation, allowing a specific course to pay out over a sustained period. AAPG also introduced Geosciences Technology Workshops (GTW) and these are being planned in the U.S., Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. AAPG also have commitments to PTTC contracts, which are exclusively domestic.
With the creation of the new Education directorate, the committee recognized some key areas for structural improvement within AAPG. In particular, we noted a disconnect between the extensive AAPG approved course offerings and instructors managed and administered by the Education directorate, versus course and field trip offerings at AAPG Conventions. Convention planning typically begins several years prior to the actual meeting date, and historically, the local organizing committee is entirely responsible for short-course and field offerings, and the short-course and field trip program is usually set up long before there is any possibility of involvement of the AAPG Education directorate. The committee recommendation was to have Education directorate staff available as a resource to the local planning committee at the early stages of convention planning, so that they may have access to approved AAPG courses and instructors. This does not mean that local planning committees are not free to include instructors, courses, and field trips unique to that locale, and there is no requirement that these local courses, field trips or instructors be approved by our committee. The idea is to expand the availability of AAPG Education directorate resources and potential courses, to the local convention committee in co-operation with the AAPG Convention Department. This recommendation was implemented in 2010.
Our committee also recommended creation of a speaker’s bureau comprising former AAPG Distinguished Lecturer’s (DL’s) to be assembled in conjunction with the Distinguished Lecture Committee. AAPG send out about 10 DL’s per year, which means we have hundreds of former lecturers. Most local societies, including AAPG affiliate organizations are always looking for speakers for their yearly programs. Our idea was to contact former DL’s to ask if they would be willing to be listed as a possible speaker outside the regular DL program. AAPG would act as a resource to allow affiliate societies or organizations
(e.g. AAPG student chapters) to contact potential former DL’s through a website. AAPG would not be responsible for arranging travel, nor any other logistics, but rather provide the list of speakers as a referral process. This would mainly require that AAPG contact former DL’s to obtain approval to be listed with current contact information. This would expand the availability of AAPG approved speakers to the general geoscience community. There was general agreement between the AAPG DL committee (Bhattacharya is also a member of this committee) and the AAPG Education Committee to proceed with this recommendation. We also recommend working on developing and identifying “Distinguished Instructors,” perhaps by culling the best evaluations from regular AAPG short courses.
Several members of the “inner circle” of the committee have worked throughout the last year to help resolve the integration of Division-sponsored programs into a more collaborative arrangement with the Education directorate. As a formal standing committee within the AAPG structure, the committee wished to help move the continuing education activities of the divisions away from a competitive position and into a collaborative one. The objective was two-fold. First, it was essential that the society have a uniform and efficient program-based approach to continuing education. A well-coordinated program with attention to timing and content ensures that the AAPG brand remains recognized as one of the best choices for geoscience education. Secondly, the divisions offer a diversity regarding content that has application beyond the reach of any individual division. The diversity of this content can enrich both the North American society offerings as well as the regional offerings when coordinated at a directorate and committee level. Significant progress has been made toward this integration of effort and content.
In addition to the specific achievements detailed above, at our strategic planning session in New Orleans five main goals were agreed upon:
- “Raising the bar” in terms of highly marketable, relevant content in courses.
- Supporting the regional offices (London, Bahrain, and Singapore) in their effort to deliver a wider selection of content to their region and especially focus on the use of regionally-based instructors. Attracting instructors who are skilled at delivering material that integrate multiple disciplines
- Ensuring that we offer differentiated courses that not only address specific niches, but also clearly validate the areas in which AAPG-branded education shows excellence.
- Ensuring that we offer a spectrum of accessible courses through relationships with PTTC and regional continuing education centers that minimize travel expense for participants.
There are clear challenges in achieving each of these goals, especially in light of current fiscal exigencies as well as competition for instructors with corporate agencies. Recruiting instructors remains a key challenge, especially in the Middle East and Southeast Asia regions. The committee also believes that AAPG will need to extend educational services into South America and Mexico. The committee recommended that the AAPG President to draft a letter to the major corporations (who typically have in-house specialist trainers) and ask them to identify potential instructors within their organizations who would be willing to teach for AAPG. The committee recommended utilizing resources from the Publications Committee and the Research Committee to determine new instructors, possibly from recent papers, articles, or Hedberg Conferences. Juli Hennings agreed to be the liaison to the Research Committee for the coming year, and Tim Sheehy agreed to be the liaison to the Publications Committee for the coming year.
In addition to our yearly advisory responsibilities to the department and the directorate, such as course review and approval, implementation of these goals will be the focus of our committee progress throughout the coming fiscal year.
Janok Bhattacharya and Skip Rhodes, Co-chairs
Juli Hennings and MaryBeth Wagner, Co-vice chairs
Committee members: Samuel Akande, Donna Anderson, Stephen Bend, Janok Bhattacharya (co-chair), Sushanta Bose, Diane Brownlee, Denise Butler, Gary Citron, Robert Clarke, Amy Day-Lewis, James DiSiena, John Dolson, Martin Dubois, Ann Givan, William Haskett, Juli Hennings (co-vice chair), Creties Jenkins, John Kaldi, Joseph Lambiase, Joseph McShane, Jeffrey Nunn, Jessica Poteet, Skip Rhodes (co-chair), Andres Ruzo-Callejas, Tim Sheehy, Lori Summa, Stavros Tassos, MaryBeth Wagner (co-vice chair), Paul Weimer, John Wickham, and Laura Wray