October 22, 2013

Skype in the Classroom – Exploring Oceans

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

Inspired by Fabien Cousteau’s record-breaking Mission 31 expedition, starting November 1st, Skype in the Classroom will set sail on a month-long exploration of the oceans with Skype lessons from marine scientists and oceanographers from all over the world. Learn more at:  https://education.skype.com/exploringoceans

Teachers (it looks like it is designed for K-12 audiences) can take students on the “ultimate field trip” and learn about everything from deep sea creatures that glow in the dark, to the advanced technology used to investigate the Titanic shipwreck. Students can about being an underwater filmmaker, sailing the seas on a boat made from recycled plastic bottles, or why hammerhead sharks look so weird.  The themes being explored for the month of November include habitats & ecosystems, conservation & sustainability, impact of human activities, exploration and adventure, pushing scientific frontiers, and the future of the oceans.

Teachers can sign up for the latest lessons, or create their own lessons about the ocean and meet other classes around the world as their students learn.  Many of the existing lessons seem to ask teachers to have their students view videos and websites before the Skype session, and some of the sessions are even being led from underwater in the Aquarius habitat.

This is certainly a huge undertaking for Skype in the Classroom.  Having a marine geology background, I am pleased to see an entire month dedicated to ocean-themed programming.  However, I wonder how the impact of such an event can be assessed.  What determines if this effort is successful?  The number of classrooms that log in?  The number of sessions offered?  Ideally, I would think the best measure of success would be students taking action and being advocates for the ocean – and maybe, just maybe, become marine geologists themselves!