A respected environmental non-govermental organization approached a group of operating companies, including Nexen, with a proposal to develop new energy-related materials for social studies and science courses offered to middle and high school students. These companies were all involved in some stage of development of a significant new energy resource; individually and collectively the companies had a track record of innovation and community engagement.
The initiative focused on teachers, with the desired outcome being the creation of a premier learning resource for innovative teachers interested in trends affecting student's future well-being. The initiative was inspired by teachers and designed by teachers.
The companies provided multi-year funding to the environmental NGO, which retained the services of professional writers and educators to prepare the modules. The companies also provided energy experts to provide factual information and technical advice to the teams preparing the new curriculum materials.
A board was created to guide the overall direction of the initiative, which included the companies, the enviromental NGO and officials from the Department of Education who were empowered to approve additions to the existing curriculum. Financial and technical support from Nexen and the other funders enabled the new materials to be made available free of charge to teachers. The four modules produced from the initiative have been made available nationally.
The companies underestimated the level of effort associated with the development of the modules. Reviewing the drafts produced by the professional writers and educators required significant editing to remove bias and achieve a focus on facts rather than opinions. In spite of significant efforts by the teams to introduce the new modules to the respective science and social studies groups of teachers, uptake at the level of the classroom was slower than anticipated. Nexen and the other companies involved now understand that teachers have significant latitude in what they deliver to their students and future efforts in this regard will have to focus on those who manage the classroom experience.