(Written by Dave)
Up early for home-made egg and bacon rolls before we headed to the Longreach School of Distance Education – our last tourist stop in Longreach.
Distance education was a big customer of ours when I worked at Polycom so I was interested in learning how they made use of technology, specifically how or if they used video. When I learned about Australia in grade school, they often talked about distance learning using short-wave radios powered by bicycle pedal like contraptions. Today, we learned that things have moved on. Below is a list of facts about modern distance education.
- Distance Education has 4 elements
- Hard copy notes and workbooks which are provided in 2-week work units
- Onsite, mini school in Longreach – once a year, for a week
- Tutor or teacher visit to remote homes and/or cluster groups with kids from area
- Online lessons
- There are 7 distance education schools in Queensland, more in other states
- Each school picks there own method of online delivery
- At Longreach, for online they use web-based visual tools and phone conferences for audio
- Longreach uses video only for 1-1, not for classroom (NT schools use video)
- Bandwidth limits are the main reason for not using video
- Class size is no more than 12 students, each teacher has one class
- Online daily lessons (M-Th) are 30 minutes for grades 1-2, 45 minutes for grades 3-10
- Teachers have up to 2 sessions per day as 6 students is the limit for online sessions
- Home-based tutor (usually mother of kids) works with kids at home to complete units
- Years 1-7 make up the majority of students, 8-10 generally go to boarding school
- The application used for lessons is called ‘Illuminate Live’
- The Longreach school district has 100 families and 160 students in their program
On the tour we saw a live online lesson, pretty much like any class with the teacher calling on students for answers. The teacher can see all of the students’ workspaces. Teachers sit in a soundproof studio but they can push audio and the desktop outside of the studio for the tour’s viewing. This week, the mini-school for the 7th grade was in Longreach, so there were kids running about as in any normal school. There are lots of walls covered with kids art and lots of kids projects about – again, all pretty much like a normal school.
It was an interesting tour. They still have HF (not short-wave) radio, but only as a back-up 911/000 emergency contact method. Knowing how powerful video can be, I was a little disappointed at the lack of video. The school is very excited about Australia’s new National Broadband Network (NBN). NBN is costing a lot, but the impact on folks living in the bush could be quite dramatic.
After “school”, we came back to the caravan park and relocated our camp from the tent area to a small cabin. We have a big day tomorrow and need an early start so will pack up as much as possible tonight to be ready to take off quickly in the morning. That will be a good change 🙂
In the afternoon, we went to town for supplies. Longreach has a population of a little over 3000 people and in 10 days time we will be in Mt Isa, with a population of 23,000. Outside Mt Isa, the next thing we see over 1000 people is Darwin, some 2,200 ks up the road. We can’t obviously buy food for 5 weeks but we tried to stock up on some of the essentials that we know will be hard to come by. We also stopped at a low key sign Tropic of Capricorn that is right in town.
Tomorrow we head northwest to Winton along the Landsborough Highway – though again the Matida Highway claims this section as well. Either way, if there are tailwinds, they can call it whatever they want. We will carry extra water and extra food to eat along the way as it appears to be 180ks without services. We intend to make it in one day as it looks like we will have a tailwind.
As for a summary of the trip so far, seven weeks:
Miles/Ks ridden: 1782/2870
Budget: Close – rest days with tourist sites are hard on the budget, plus the computer didn’t help
Flat tires: 0 – Love those Schwalbe tires
New seats: Still only 1, Nancy learning to like hers more each day
Mechanical issues: one rack screw fell off my bike, fixed on the side of the road with replacement
Bike damage: See post from Jericho – Nancy’s bike impaled itself on the table
- Private home 3
- Caravan Park 25
- National park 1
- Hotel 5
- Warmshowers 2
- Showgrounds 1
- Pub 1
- Hostel 7
- City park 5
- Caravan Park – cabin 3
Best day riding: Any day with a tailwind, there have been a few good ones
Worst day riding: Getting hard to pick one, no really, this is fun! Probably still those couple days up the Oxley Hwy in the rain.
Sore parts Nancy: Left achilles (still niggling but better after adjusting cleats)
Sore parts Dave: None
Things we will send home: We can’t help it, we are hoarders. We do have some things that we want to ship but can’t seem to pull the trigger – at some point this will have to change or our bikes (or bodies) will revolt.
Attitude: Actually getting better – fewer “what the heck have we done thoughts”. Little worried about the big distances from here to Darwin and beyond, but we’ll get through it…
“No schedule” is working well – I’m not sure if we are ahead or behind…
Food: Pretty good – even if we have to forage everyday…
What we miss: our own bed for sure and Nancy would love to have her own ensuite…
What we don’t like sometimes: packing and unpacking everyday
Future plans: We are still focused on getting to Darwin, then most likely Perth. From there it get fuzzy as we don’t want to get too locked into something that forces a schedule on us. Stay tuned…