Before leaving port, I was contacted by four teachers who were interested in having their classes participate in a real-time conversation with researchers at sea. While ashore, we were able to confirm our Skype connections using local wireless networks. Lincoln County School District (LCSD) provided a Skype-ready laptop for Crestview School’s use. Waldport High School scheduled a period to bring a science class over for a live question and answer session with researchers on the Oceanus. Each teacher solicited questions from their students regarding our shipboard research that I consequently shared with my shipmates for their assistance with the Skype interviews. Pat Kight updated this blog for educators to share with their classes.
I made three attempts on May 29th to use RV Oceanus’s Skype capabilities to connect with these schools. Unfortunately, both the audio and visual reception/transmission was abysmal. The video images were pixelated and the audio was choppy and incomplete. We achieved limited success with the high school students by the teacher repeating the students’ questions while I texted back the replies, though this process was clumsy and difficult to maintain.
To confirm that the source of our problems wasn’t with LCSD’s computer, I Skyped with a teacher and the IT person from Childpeace Montessori in Portland. We tried turning off both camera feeds, but unfortunately, the audio difficulties persisted. After consulting with Oceanus’s Maritech Erik Arnesen, I learned that our shipboard bandwidth is 193 kb input and 64 kb out. Obviously this is inadequate. Future Skype success will require sharing bandwidth from other research vessels. Coordination between the vessels operations and class time scheduling will need to be reconciled.
I contacted the educators and offered to respond to their students’ questions through this blog. When I return to shore, I will be able to address their follow up questions by Skype from HMSC.