Only in the Bush – mobile computer lab

So, I want to start a new section of my blog, that I’m going to call, “Only in the Bush”. It’s for those things which I run into and say, “Seriously? This only happens in Bush Alaska.” Today’s is specifically, “This would only happen in my school district.”

I’ve, uhmm… well I suppose some of you may think I’ve been ranting and raving about the Ed Tech department here at BSSD. They’re phenomenal, there’s no other way to say it. One of them even let me take his four wheeler into the foothills tonight. But, that’s not my moment.

Today in our training about setting up a digital Foxfire it was mentioned that the district has a mobile computer lab. We inquired a little about it and they offered to set it up and show it to us. Before I explain what it is, let me show you a couple photos I snapped (sorry about the quality, but it was my cell phone camera).

Mobile lab satellite dish


What you’re seeing is a cart that can be pulled behind a snowmachine or 4-wheeler that has a self-aiming satellite dish on it. There’s a set of cables that connects it to the a router, switch, Video Teleconference (VTC) equipment, phone for emergencies and even an Airport Extreme wireless base station.

You can haul this thing out into the bush with you, bring laptops for students to use, VTC with classrooms around the district or the lower-48 and have internet access over the equivalent of a T1. That’s actually faster than what the school sites get. It’s also used to cover the Iditarod race when it passes through the region. They set up a tent around all the routers and gear and use it as a base station to interview mushers as they pass through, stream live to the internet and even take viewer questions to ask the mushers. Talk about an amazing piece of technology built as a collaborative effort between GCI and BSSD. Oh, and if you wanted to set one of these babies up for yourself? It is a custom deal, so you’ll have to make a call to a friendly satellite internet provider.

2 thoughts on “Only in the Bush – mobile computer lab

  1. Those self aiming satellite dishes are pretty neato. I was shown one at Rockwell when I interviewed with the satcom group. Damn that would have been a cool job to have :( although iowa sucks

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