Online communication giant Skype will host conference calls with the world’s leading marine experts in all seven continents in an ambitious new project that takes learning beyond the walls of the classroom. The Mission 31 Expedition will be led by Fabien Cousteau, whose grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau helped raise awareness of marine conservation issues and the incredible underwater environment.
Mission 31 Expedition
This underwater mission will involve Cousteau and a team of experts spending a month in the submerged Aquarius Laboratory to highlight the importance of long term exploration in this still largely undiscovered environment. Although water covers approximately 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface, only around five per cent has been properly explored, and Cousteau and his team aim to inspire younger generations to continue this important work by hosting live broadcasts from the base and answering students’ questions.
Schools all over the world are being invited to take part in this unique event, which will cover areas such as conservation, management of ocean resources, the impact of climate change, the future of ecotourism and the connection between people and the ocean. The Mission 31 Expedition is just one of many innovative educational programs currently in development by Skype, with the aim of making the learning experience more interactive and engaging for young people’s minds.
Trends in Creative Education
The desire to move teaching beyond the classroom may be nothing new, but now the technology exists to connect children with locations and activities that would have previously been impossible. Many schools have achieved great success through creative teaching methods that encourage pupils to participate actively in the topics being discussed – whether it’s as simple as heading outside on a sunny day to measure speeds and distances on the school sports field or using computer programs that entertain as they educate.
Continuing research into creative education practices has demonstrated their benefits for developing children’s imagination, creativity and interest in the world around them, as well as for improving attendance and reducing incidences of behavioural problems when pupils of all ages feel they are getting something positive from their education.
Developing Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is one key area that research has found to be particularly lacking in many traditional approaches to education, which can have wide reaching implications for societies if entire generations lack the skills necessary to make informed decisions, or at least are not being encouraged to think for themselves in education systems based on the ability to memorise and repeat facts.
One solution for bucking this trend and encouraging young people to take a greater interest in issues is to find subjects that will truly engage and fascinate them, which is where Skype’s Social Good projects can make a positive difference, by highlighting relevant contemporary issues and inviting formal debate.
Other Skype Projects
As well as the Mission 31 Expedition, Skype has been involved in other landmark firsts in 2013, including hosting the first video call from the summit of Mount Everest when British explorer Daniel Hughes broadcast over wifi internet from 8,848 metres above sea level on the roof of the world. Skype has also been instrumental in helping Afghan refugees reconnect in different parts of the world, after being forced to flee their country and losing touch with family members.
Skype in the classroom could have a significant impact on for the way subjects are taught in the coming years as more schools connect to the service and find creative ways to engage young minds in important issues of the modern world not covered by a traditional syllabus. If your school students are feeling restless and having trouble concentrating now summer’s arrived, have you considered bringing Skype into the classroom?