Random Thoughts

k12online Shanghai LAN party podcast #7

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Our final LAN party podcast…kind of sad really. We discuss the conference in general, the LAN parties, and touch on Anne Davis’s keynote of Overcoming Obstacles. It was a great Saturday morning, taking part in a 2 hour Skype conversation as part of the When Night Falls Skypecast and learning and watching the presentations in the Overcoming Obstacles strand.


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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. beth gourley Reply

    I’m a librarian with a little technical background who has been in China for seven years. I slipped into your skypecast to get a flavor and to perhaps ask a China specific question. My question during your skypecast wasn’t out of naiveté about how the Chinese government works–My question that no one seemed to want to touch was how do you deal with blocking?
    How do you make decisions what social software you might use?
    How were decisions to use wikispaces (open) and not pbwiki (blocked) for the conference? Or was it a conscious decision?
    How do you make school decisions to bring other staff on board with software—but then it becomes blocked?
    As you know there were several presenters who cited blogspots as an example—can’t access. While I was on the skypecast, Chris mentioned http://www.podbizproject.net I cant’t access it.
    There are ways to get around the blocked sites, thank heavens for bloglines and then one can try proxies, but they are constantly changing and also make one vulnerable.
    I’m asking these questions from two perspectives
    1. How do you try to lead staff and students to particular software to use and not get burnt?
    For example, last year I had worked on a lengthy wiki with a librarian who was in Singapore. It was a terrific online collaboration experience, before deciding on which wiki to use we read several reviews and experimented with a few, and we decide on pbwiki and produced http://librarytails.pbwiki.com for the EARCOS conference. I couldn’t present it to my staff, who many are skeptical about trying new technical software. (see that’s what happens, why should we try it) because after I returned it became blocked and has been since (with an odd day here or there accessible). I also had introduced to my students Furl as a nice storage device for their research paper. One student actually did –then to have the site blocked. Ooops
    Energetic students don’t seem to mind to keep trying, but I find some staff unwilling to try.
    Currently we have our staff experimenting with blogs and decided we would use edublogs—my fingers are crossed.
    Sounds like LAN parties might be a step in that direction?

    2. The other perspective is the digital divide of the haves and nots. We all experience this in different forms. Living here in China has exposed me to the extremes. Currently I am closely working with a Tibetan middle school in Qinghai, and we’re dealing with issues whether all students have enough to eat and then school issues like chalk and paper. If there is a computer it’s riddled with viruses. At the other end, my daughter works for an IT company in Beijing—the company pays a huge amount, and they can access any site without blocks.
    As teachers in international schools we are definitely part of the “haves” culture. With blocking we experience a little of the not having. Or we are able to purchase other options. But we also know we are a guests in another country and need to live by their rules, and we imagine and think it’s better in home countries. But I’m beginning to wonder.
    I know the frustrations I experience—first there is the distraction of not being able to access a site, is the site down or is it blocked–the extra unnecessary mind games. There are times I jump to the conclusion, it’s blocked and then I find out the site was down. We’re looking at technology as a tool for intensifying the learning experience.
    From this conference and other conversations, I’ve also been hearing more about the Draconian measures in the states –the use of blocking and filtering in the schools. With such measures we’re splitting the divide even more. Students who have computers at home have the access to all the sites and tools. Students whose only access is school or libraries are again limited and not in the same game. This is not the direction we want to go.

    Yes, two different perspectives, but I was wanting to clarify where my question was coming from.

    I want to thank you –this was a terrific conference, I still need to get through more sessions and am digesting and synthesizing what I’ve heard.

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