Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ham it Up

Culture and Technology indeed. Alaska has shown me many things and one of them is that what the lower 48 deems 'old' technology is the best up here. Think about it, it is -14 F and your $500 cell phone is not only out of service, but frozen. When I arrived in Nome I was surprised that people still had HAM radios, and not just for fun night talks, but for direct means of communication.

Leave the cell and laptop at home, they are meaningless in the field if it is 0 outside. What about the old fashioned pencil and notepad instead?

Also, from a radio standpoint, it seems that the good ole cassette recorders are more reliable then the current digital rival.

Keeping up with today's trends doesn't always seem to pay off. Unless you are a school district up here. If you want to see learning technology at it's best, check out Bering Straight School District. Their students take 'virtual' field trips, watch away basketball games on a big screen, have a broadcast team that follows the Iditarod and have a set technology curriculum.

Money is stretched, people are trained. That is what is necessary. If you feel that brand new laptops and virtual trips are not productive for students, well here are some other things Alaskans are learning.

There are teachers the are having labs on how to use a GPS devices, HAM radio classes, and topo map instruction. These are things crucial to rural living regardless of global position.

Navigation is a part of the culture in the North. Like rural life anywhere, it can be life or death. Knowledge of tools and technology can help reduce death and injury.