Here are some of the questions we have heard in discussions with teachers, experts in various fields, and friends about the VoySC program. We thought this a good opportunity to share them with, our answers. The questions and answers are not in any particular order.
This is a program developing each day and with development comes change. We will keep this Q/A document updated as we hear and answer new questions. We hope this helps!
Questions and Answers
Q. What an idea! I am trying to envision the voyage and teaching in general and wonder how it will work. Can you give me a quick answer?
A.The “Little Ship and Her Best Friend” (Howard Rice) will be traveling the world visiting and exploring 16 countries by a small boat he built expressly for leg one of the voyage. The voyage began in November 2016 and will continue over the span of three years. In each country, Howard (with a small support team) will sail, explore, interact with people and engage with local teachers and experts who will assist him in delivering free live-stream broadcasts into elementary school classrooms worldwide. This is not only an astounding small boat journey but also a profound act of giving.
Q. What will Howard be teaching?
A. The structured lesson modules will touch on all content areas while weaving a thread of sustainability, environmental challenges, and the unique positive solutions being employed in each country to meet these challenges.
Q. Is Howard the only teacher?
A. Howard, in collaboration with in-country experts and elementary school teachers, will be conducting scheduled, structured live-stream interactive broadcasts into elementary school classrooms.
Q. How can this happen? Is the technology there yet?
A. We will record and broadcast from on land and on the boat using small HD cameras, a WIFI hotspot, and leading edge live-stream technology streamed through a secure central web site.
Q. How much will this cost my school and how much will it cost me in time? I am a teacher and have little extra time.
A. The program is free and is meant to assist teachers in delivering core requirements and not to add any work to their schedules. The adventure of a tiny ship and her intrepid voyager (a former college professor) is, by any measure, exciting and a wonderful opportunity to bring the world into classrooms, while touching on all subject content areas via live interactive lessons, downloadable lesson plans, and archived teaching modules developed by teachers for teachers.
Q. Who is paying for this wonderful service to teachers and students?
A. The first leg is complete. The boat, equipment, shipping and other costs was paid for out of pocket by Howard Rice. To continue, we are seeking friends, supporters, and hopefully more than a few institutional or corporate donors.
Q. Has this been done before?
A. Great question. Yes, we are doing it! The first leg of the journey is complete and the education program test, or proof of concept, is in and the results are thrilled teachers and engaged students. To our knowledge, this approach to experiential learning- based on a real small boat voyage and shared utilizing interactive live stream- appears to be unique.
The exciting first part of the voyage and live-stream teaching has been completed. Howard and his little ship have successfully tested the concept and refined it during 2016 and 2017 with three school groups during his recent, epic voyage down the Strait of Magellan and into Tierra del Fuego.
Q. What do students get from being involved in this project?
A. Students are engaged in an exciting voyage and adventures of a little ship to remote lands and stunning seascapes and landscapes. They will be able to follow the track of the voyage daily through “Live Tracking.” This technology allows students, teachers and parents to observe the course the little ship takes daily at ten-minute intervals. We’ll offer students a view of the world through a wide array of teaching moments.
Students benefit from experiencing exotic cultures, historic sites plus sustainability challenges and solutions. They will see human impacts on the planet including sustainability issues and positive solutions in a variety of settings from the hot tropics to the cold of Norwegian fjords, and will learn about varied solutions and appropriate technologies being applied in these varied contexts.
In addition, all curriculum content areas are involved. For example, sailors use mathematics for navigation and geophysical and atmospheric science for weather forecasting. Voyagers also experience exotic cultures, historic sites, wildlife, and scenes of nature rarely seen by others. Opportunities abound for creative writing, journaling, student-initiated research, letter writing, and artistic expression.
Q. How do I, as a teacher, benefit from this program?
A. Many of us working to offer this program are, or have been, teachers. We understand the monumental workloads most teachers face. Our objective is to offer an opportunity to augment the content you deliver currently in the classroom without creating any extra work. To this end we will publish and archive structured lesson plans and teaching materials pertaining to each venue the little ship will visit that you can simply download. Teachers can modify lessons to connect with their existing curriculum and to meet their own needs.
These teaching modules will focus on math, science, history, culture, and geography. Writing and creative arts also can be incorporated. When appropriate, each module will include a subtle but important thread presenting sustainability issues, environmental ethics, and personal responsibility. Our goal is to help teachers engage and inspire young people at time when they are beginning to be independent and are curious about their world.
Q. What do I need in the classroom to make this happen?
A. Ideally you should have access to WiFi, a computer, and the ability to project onto a screen, white board, or wall. If your school does not have WiFi then you can access the live stream by cell phone or the students can listen to the broadcast through this VoySC.com website. Each teaching module will be archived. Using your log-in and password you will have unlimited access to these downloadable archives. You can use these as often as you wish to integrate them into your classroom lessons using a laptop or other computer. We are exploring other means to make the program accessible to schools in remote locations that do not have WiFi available. We will publish our solution as soon as we have concluded research.
Q. Can multiple classrooms participate in the broadcasts at the same time?
A. Good question. We can only broadcast interactively with only one classroom at a time; however, hundreds- or even thousands- of classrooms can be logged onto the web site at the same time to participate through observation during each live stream broadcast. This will enable classrooms all over the world to benefit from watching and listening to the live-stream broadcast or update. Interactive Q/A with individual students in the live classroom, and interaction between classroom teachers, and teachers from the boat will be broadcast to all classrooms during each update or 50- minute module.
Q. If my classroom is not the live classroom how can my students have their questions answered?
A. Excellent question. It works like this. Through the “Teachers Lounge” (our forum for teachers), you can participate in conversational posts with other teachers and can actually communicate with the teachers who have been selected for live sessions. In this way you can offer your students’ questions before the broadcast for consideration during the broadcast.
You can also submit questions related to an upcoming teaching module directly to our staff. Questions will be reviewed and the best questions- meaning most applicable for all classrooms participating- will be selected. We are exploring the option of enabling type-in questions to be submitted during the live sessions from which our staff would pick the most relevant or valuable to all for answering during the broadcast. There is no guarantee your students' questions will be selected, but we will do our best to answer as many as possible during the allotted time. The value of having your classroom viewing the live stream sessions is they will have the opportunity to see kids from other countries pose questions and receive answers.
Q. Can teachers pose questions to the VoySC staff?
A. We are looking into a "question Bulletin Board" available in the "Teachers Lounge" where teachers can post questions, ands other teachers, VoySC staff, etc. can offer answers in a comment posting format. This would offer another direct link between classroom participants and the live broadcast
Q. Can my classroom be considered for one of the direct live stream sessions?
A. Yes. In September we will begin to activate the live-stream processes including the form for you to fill out and send to us explaining why your classroom should be selected to do a live session. When the form is posted all you have to do is go into the “Teachers Resource Center” area of our web site and fill out the form. Selection will, of course, be difficult for us as we would love to be able to make every classroom live but technology doesn't allow it. This said our intention is to deliver hundreds of live classroom sessions over the three-year span of the program. We plan to feature a different live classroom for each broadcast. This means your classroom has a chance of being selected.
Q. I am curious about the lesson plans. Is it required that I use them and how do I access them?
A. The lesson plans are available for your use in any form you wish. You can choose to use the entire plan, parts of it or none of it. Our hope is to provide a tool for you to make your job a little easier, to make the live streaming session more relevant, and to provide a variety of ways for your students to connect to the content. It is suggested that lesson plans be accessed two weeks before a given live stream session so you can determine how best to incorporate it into your normal teaching plan.
Q. Am I required to participate in all live stream classroom sessions?
A. We hope you and your students will become so enamored with the offering that you will tune in often but there is no requirement of any kind to participate in any number of sessions. The choice is yours to make; you may participate in a single session, some, or all. One of the unique features of the program is its dynamic, ever-changing nature. Every day within a given country will be unique and we will be in each country for about one month. Then, we move on to the next venue making for even greater interest, excitement, and anticipation by your students about the upcoming new content. Live-stream sessions will not be scheduled for each day we are in country; instead, they will take place every few days following a published schedule.
Q. How does it work if classrooms are logging in for a particular broadcast from all around the world in different time zones?
A. Our plan is to pre-publish the broadcast days in each venue, including the times during each day we will broadcast. For example, let’s say we are broadcasting from Pohnpei, Micronesia. We will begin sessions at 9am local time, and broadcast every two hours during the day and into the evening. This will enable us to live stream to many time zones around the world on the same calendar day. We hope to feature a new live classroom in each session. Teachers in time zones that are not able to participate during the sessions on that day can access the archived broadcast and use it at a more convenient time and as frequently as they wish.
Q. Will anyone other than my students and me be able to watch the live stream classroom sessions or access the archived sessions?
A. Only you, as the registered teacher, your school administrators, your students, and their parents (using your classroom log-in and pass word) will be able to access the live stream classroom sessions, archived lessons and any photos of classrooms.
We believe there are two distinct groups who will follow the voyage because of it’s exciting and inspiring nature. Teachers and students comprise one distinct group; the public, donors, supporters, sailors, adventurers, arm chair adventurers, other educators, business people, etc. comprise the second distinct group. The public will enter the web site as an open invitation and be able to follow the voyage through our blog or by joining in the effort be able to access what is known as Map Share (live tracking) technology. They will have the option to view daily live updates, posted film footage of daily activities and adventures of the little ship, interact through a separate public forum and blog with questions for the little ship’s crew and support crew.
The public will have the ability to receive and read live updates and view footage the shore team shoots of all aspects of the voyage but they cannot access or view any of the live teaching sessions or archived modules. Any individual logging into the web site, including teachers and parents, will have opportunities to engage, offer support, and follow the little ship Southern Cross as she and her skipper tackle some amazing challenges.
Q. I am a teacher and this sounds great. Is the program truly free or will there be cost that comes later?
A. The program is absolutely free to teachers and schools.
Q. How can it be free. Doesn’t shipping a container around the world and live streaming cost a lot?
A. Yes, building and equipping a small boat, shipping it to many countries, and maintaining an in-field crew is very expensive, but we feel the mission is worth the effort and cost. We can only do this if we have financial support. Howard Rice, Gary Gnade, John Welsford and Kate Ebert have all invested to help the program get its wings. Howard has dedicated a substantial investment by dedicating his boat and equipment to the program! If we cannot raise the funds leg by leg as we go forward or if we are fortunate align with sponsors who will back the entire project then we will have to slow down or stop. In short we need support and this can come from a single donor or many small donations.
Q. As a teacher can I also donate to the program?
A. Absolutely! Anyone can support the program including the team that is making this happen. In fact, each team member has chipped in $500 to get the project off the ground and as mentioned Howard has dedicated a substantial investment to the project.
Q. So if this is free to teachers is it also free to schools?
A. Yes, the program is 100% free to schools, school districts, and teachers.
Q. I am curious. Are the founders and management of the program volunteering or are they being paid?
A. At this early stage, everyone involved is volunteering to keep the project growing and on its way. Leg one has been successfully completed and Howard Rice paid for all costs and expenses out of pocket, enabling us to utilize his considerable investment, boat, and equipment to move on to leg two of the project. We are currently in the process of seeking financial supporters and donors because there will be budgeted expenses soon. At some point, personnel traveling to each country will need to be compensated for their time and effort.
Q. I plan to sign up. When I sign up do I get some sort of access log in or code or is the program open for anyone to use?
A. Good question. As a teacher, you will have the opportunity to fill out a simple application form, which includes a request for verification of your position at the school you are registering.
On the sign-up page, you will also have the opportunity to choose your personal log-in and password. The log in and password gives you secure access to the teacher areas of the web site, the live-stream classroom programs, the map share and live tracking page, and the archived live-stream sessions. The live stream into classrooms is secure and only accessible by teachers, student's, and students’ parents. Students and their parents will have access through the application and verification form you fill out using the log-in and password you register.
Our objective is to make your classroom, and for that matter all classrooms, Internet secure and safe. We will never publish, broadcast, sell or release classroom footage or archived live stream sessions to anyone at any time unless we have full written permission from you (the teacher), parents, and administrators.
Q. Why would the VoySC program have an interest publishing, broadcasting, selling or releasing classroom footage?
A. At this point, we do not have any plans to release any footage for any reason. However, as the program evolves and public interest grows there may be good reason or need to publicize the program to help gain financial support or to help augment a feature film documenting the program. If such opportunities arise, teachers, schools and parents would be fully informed and asked to agree to approve any film footage used.
Q. Why would the VoySC program want to verify that I am a teacher?
A. It is important to us that we ensure only classrooms and verified teachers are able to participate in the live-stream sessions. There are two general groups of viewers and supporters who may access the VoySC.com web site: Teachers/students/parents, and the general public of interested adventurers and folks who support the program or are just fascinated and wish to keep up on news. We are keeping these two general groups separate.
Q. Why keep the interested groups separate?
A. We are teachers, and some of us parents. We believe in keeping all students safe and secure. This is our #1 priority. Only verified teachers and verified classrooms will be able to sign in and participate in the live-stream broadcasts.
Q. Can you explain how the two separate groups access the web site and what the general public can do on the web site?
A. Each teacher will be assigned their personal log-in or school log-in and password. This enables the teacher to access the live stream along with all other teachers who have registered a log-in and pass a verification process thus ensuring they are legitimately teaching in a school or as a home school teacher.
Q. OK, so I sign up; then what happens?
A. First, we will respond to you as we review your application and verification information. Once verified, you will receive a “Welcome to the Crew” email with instructions for accessing the sign in (log-in and password) page. Once signed in, you will be given access to the “Teachers’ Lounge (the teachers forum) and the “Teachers’ Resource Center.” Beginning in September 2017, the live stream portion of our web site will go live, enabling you to log in and participate in a test live-stream practice session. This will help you learn what it takes to prepare, sign in, and enhance your classroom teaching using the service.
Q. Exactly what are the Teachers’ Lounge and the Teachers’ Resource Center?
A. The Teachers’ Lounge is an exclusive teacher forum. The forum is the place where teachers from around the world can connect and communicate with each other, with the aim of anything and everything from saying Hello to sharing teaching information. The Teachers’ Resource Center is a place for teachers to review updates and notices and down load lesson plans, Internet links, suggested student projects and a range of support materials.
Q. What sort of student projects will be available in the Teachers’ Resource Center and are teachers required to use them?
A. The projects or classroom hands-on assignments are not yet fully prepared but will be prepared well in advance of arrival in a given country. We will design these assignments to be as relevant as possible to the place we are exploring and to the curriculum students are being taught.
For example, while Howard and his boat sailed through Tierra del Fuego, the each of the students in the three classrooms were assigned the task of developing a diorama depicting the Micro Forests of Tierra del Fuego. This was an assignment contained within a structured lesson plan, “The Micro Forests of Tierra del Fuego.” This and another assignment turned out to be wildly popular and the resultant dioramas were amazing. Students loved the projects and teachers found them to be very effective as teaching tools. Lesson plans and assignments available through the Teachers Resource Center are not required, but are available if teachers find them of value.
Q. I think this program sounds exciting but can it be relatable to 3rd through 6th grade students who may not know anything about boats?
A. A base of knowledge in small boats is not requisite for students to learn and engage in this program. Rather, the program utilizes a small boat as the medium by which we present the themes of adventure, inspiration, culture, and direct access to the unique environments we will explore. There is an element of wonder and excitement that can come from following the progress of Southern Cross as she is shipped, commissioned, and then sets sail through astounding land and seascapes including cultural and historic sites. Students who know little of sailing will have the opportunity to learn a great deal about how seafaring explorers discovered new worlds using the stars above and the winds to bring new lands, ideas and exotic cultures to the known world.