NMC 2006: Mobility and Community

Arlene Krebs presented on how CSUMB was able to use wireless technology in projects that gave back to the community.

Hewlett-Packard gave CSUMB two mobility grants, for $236K and $130K to purchase mobile equipment to be used across the curriculum. They have 26 projects now in progress.

The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. A solar powered access point in the middle of a river (where a river flows into the ocean). This was a $40K grant. There's a research blind, and they used a Rico wireless camera to take a picture and send it over the internet.

It's not just the grants and equipment, it's getting vendor partners. They brought in another vendor partner and put in a mesh network. They brought in principals from the school district, wrote and received a grant for the technology for the schools. Providing live virtual field trips for school-age children.

The students made a real field trip to start, setting up traps and learning about the area. Follow up was done through the virtual field trips, with the instructor in the field with an audio feed and static pictures.

Field geology – they set up a direct way satellite dish at the Carmel Mission and used tablets and wireless cameras to let students post notes in real time to the internet.

It is likely that we'll discover new applications for the technology that we cannot anticipate.

A third project involves GIS mapping of the bay.

One of their lessons learned is that there hasn't been one central point where all stockholders could go for information and support.

Support, regional partnerships and national partnerships are the key issues going forward.

Their web site can be found here.

Brian Alexander asked about both wireless and cell phone technology – does Arlene see them converging? She responded that she hasn't seen much pedagogically on cell phones yet. They're not rich enough to capture data the way that tablets do. And they don't have cell phone access in Big Sur.

John showed PORTS, the California Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students. They've had video-conferencing projects for students and legislators.

How many schools are serviced by PORTS? Over 3000.

Are students working hands on? It varies by the project.

How do you sustain and expand faculty efforts? Collaborations between people who love the different parks and CSUMB make this work. It is sustainable. There is a challenge, with limited time and resources. The high speed network has an online resource that allows faculty to set up events. Early adopters enjoy the barriers (making the project work despite the challenges). The next group wants to push a button and have the service turn on. They have more demand for online field trips than they have staff, so they're working on finding new ways to keep things going.

Any concerns about putting the technology up in the parks (cell phone technology, etc.). The parks need communications in some areas, so there was enough of a demand from people using the parks to put it up in heavily trafficked areas. CSUMB would like to have some things more remote and is looking at how that can be done without objection.

(An aside – so far all three of my sessions have used video in the presentation to tell the story behind their work.)

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