Random Thoughts

Looking for Dedication

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So what happens when you put 1200+ Moodle Users in 88 courses and 560+ WordPress blogs all on the same shared hosting server? You exceed your CPU usage.

We have been getting this warning for a couple of months now, but as we continue to add more blogs and users in Moodle, it’s happening more frequently. Yesterday I was trying to help a 5th grade class learn how to add pictures to their blog posts, while another class was blogging in a computer lab, and a class of 7th graders where blogging about their YouTube videos. Not one class accomplished their goal for the lesson. I have talked to admin about purchasing a dedicated server just to host our educational services. They agree we need to do something fast before we lose the great momentum that we have right now around technology, so I’m looking for help. Can anyone recommend a good dedicated server company that runs Linux and supports php and MYSQL, has great support, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg?

We don’t want to host the server ourselves for a number of reasons. One, none of our technicians are familiar with Linux and all the open-source add-ons. Two, it’s hard to beat the prices that some of these companies are offering with full technique support. Third, we are in China.

Even though the admin is behind the move and the cost associated with it, there is a very compelling argument that can be made on why these learning sites should be top priority. Student learning is (or should be) at the center of what we do, of where we spend our money, and where we focus or time and energy. These programs we are using go directly to the heart of student learning, extending the classroom beyond the four walls. Most of the discussions on Moodle happens after school hours. The blogs are accessed throughout the day, and looking at some of the times when posts were created also well into the night. We talk about wanting our students to be self-motivated learners and yesterday I ran into an 8th grader who has a blog. I asked him what service he used and he said he set it up on our school’s blog site. I found that odd, because to my knowledge there are no 8th grade classes using blogs. So I asked to see it and sure enough there it was. He said he set it up over the Chinese New Year holiday because he was bored and he’d heard others talking about the site.

We have students creating their own blogs, posting to them on their own, and reflecting on their school day because their bored at home? Doesn’t anyone else think that’s cool? We are dedicated (pun intended) to student learning here at our school and that’s exactly why we need to move to a dedicated server as soon as possible. Otherwise, we are standing in the way of student progress, reflection, discussion, communication, and learning.

[tags]moodle, wordpress, 21st Century Learning[/tags]

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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. Devil’s advocate here: sorry, it’s a long one today.
    I’m wondering if you had a detailed look at the 8th grader’s blog who set it up because they were bored. I know the stats on the growth of the blogosphere is huge but no one ever talks about the number of blogs that are left for dead or the blogs that are really just a place to post IM fodder. For example, I myself have set up at least 2 blogs just to see how they work but nothing of significance was ever posted on them. If your 8th grader has been posting something that others might be interested in, I’d love to know the link.

    I’m also wondering which “subject area teachers” are using blogs other than in English since blogging is primarily writing. I can remember when I was teaching English and it was basically impossible to get Science or Math teachers to incorporate writing or assess writing because they felt it wasn’t part of “their” curriculum. Are you seeing this point of view change, or are you simply working with teachers that place a greater emphasis on integrating all subjects across the curriculum? If so, I’m envious.

    I understand that blogs are great for journaling, reflecting and sharing one’s own ideas but to be honest, I don’t know of any subject other than English (and now IT) that includes journaling within its curriculum. Now that personal reflections are being posted online for all to see, how many students are self motivated enough to read other people’s reflections without direct instruction to do so from their teachers? Don’t get me wrong, I understand that reading, writing and reflection are all great things regardless of the course being offered, but, if most subject areas have decided not to include journaling, writing & reflection in their curriculum for the past 100 years (I admit, I’m making an assumption here), why should they start now? Is it because there is “a new way to do old things” or because it’s educationally sound. If it’s the latter, why don’t most non-English curriculums include journaling already?

    I ask these questions because I always try to offer IT resources to teachers or departments that best suit their needs. Teachers in my experience want solutions to problems or ways of improving what they already do, first and foremost. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that it’s the nature of the beast. I therefore find it hard sometimes to convince them to add something new to their course load when they already struggle to get through the existing content and activities. Therefore, if teachers already know the benefits of journaling but choose not to include it using traditional methods, why would/should they start now? What has changed?

    Jeff, you often say IT integration is the wrong mindset, that technology should be a natural part of the learning experience, but, if that is true, shouldn’t we be looking for resources that fit into a subject area’s existing curriculum first and foremost? Otherwise, aren’t we as IT teachers at the very least distracting non-IT teachers from their set curriculum and at the very worst re-writing curriculum in areas we are not qualified in?

    Finally, and here are the really tough questions… You often provide stats on the number of blogs that you have set up among students and teachers, but, is it possible to provide us with stats on how many are being used on a regular basis, by who, how many are read by peers, by “others” and how many posts typically receive comments? I’m not sure this is possible but it would be interesting to know. I do know that I use TEENTEK as an example to show the potential audience for a student blog to inspire my IT students.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love all the Web 2.0 tools and applications that are out there and because of the success and praise from a few teachers who have been willing to give them a try, such as Gmail, Google Docs/Calendar/Personalized Homepage, RSS feeds, podcasts, etc, the interest has been spreading, but blogging hasn’t been a real winner at my school and yet you talk about it more than any other Web 2.0 application. I guess that’s why I have so many questions.

  2. I think it’s cool. I would, as Reece points out, be interested in the content, but I think it’s cool.

    One of the best ways to show the successful of your program is to overload the system with your success. Congratulations!

  3. Derek Halverson Reply

    In response to Reece’s question about number of blogs being dead ends etc., I was just reading the Sept. 2006 issue of Wired and they had a great article on Splogs. One “Splog” researcher had found that “More than 10 million of the 12.9 million profiles on Blogger surveyed…in June were inactive, either because the bloggers had stopped blogging or because they never got started.” For those not math inclined, that is 77.5%… whether it is totally accurate or not can probably be debated, but something to think about.

  4. If you are looking for a dedicated based in Shanghai, we can help. All our server are Linux based and we are familiar with PHP/MySQL – the LAMP platform.

    Actually we also can do US based server through our datacenter partner.

    59Box is newly setup web hosting company in Shanghai. Our mission is to push the hosting quality limit you get in China.

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