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What An Underwater College Lecture Sounds Like

Marine biology professor David Smith and his students spent a total of 15 hours participating in lectures held 18 meters below the surface of the ocean. Sophisticated audio technology allowed them to interact with each other.

What’s the Latest Development?

For their latest annual field trip to Indonesia’s Wakatobi Marine National Park, University of Essex professor David Smith decided to try something new: He and his class dove 18 meters (59 feet) under the surface of the ocean, and then he conducted his lecture on the local coral reef system using a microphone built into his face mask while the students listened using headsets under their masks. Over 15 hours’ worth of videos was also shot during the lectures, creating a unique audiovisual learning experience. Smith says, “I was able to use the power of observation like never before… I was able to explain to students exactly what they were seeing and inject more passion and feeling into the whole lecture.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Underwater communication technology — the kind that doesn’t involve words scrawled on a slate — is normally reserved for TV presenters and professional divers. Smith purchased the technology for his lecture series with the help of a special teaching grant. By being able to create a real-time underwater field study, Smith was able to bring together the theoretical and the practical. Student Tilly James says, “The underwater lectures…enabled us to get a much better understanding of how all the components of the reef system were interacting with each other. It was an experience you simply cannot get with traditional lectures.”

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Read it at ScienceDaily


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