Category Archives: China

Carnival of the Mobilists #136

It’s Monday, so time for a new Carnival of the Mobilists, hosted this week on the allaboutiPhone blog. Lots of interesting posts as usual. My favorite of the week is the SmartMob post on alternative 2008 Olympic coverage. If you’re as sick as I am of the NBC commentators and their coverage which seems to include more stories about American athletes than actual coverage of events, it’s worth a look. The post definitely provides some different ways to experience the Olympics, all made possible by mobile and wireless technologies.

Image Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists, Logo:
http://www.mobili.st/images/cotm-button.jpg

Too Much of a Good Thing, Part II

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As a follow up to some of the negative side effects of the Internet explosion in China I wrote about last year, here is a story that was posted to the CNN technology section yesterday:

China: 2 Million Teens Hooked on the Web

BEIJING, China (Reuters) — Chinese teenagers are getting addicted to the Internet and taking to crime at a younger age than in any other country, state media reported on Wednesday.

Of China’s 18.3 million teen Internet users, more than 2 million were addicts, with “good kids who impress their parents and teachers” the most vulnerable to the affliction, the China Daily said, citing a study by the Communist Youth League.

“Internet addicts in China are as many as 10 years younger than those in the West. They are more susceptible,” the daily quoted Gao Wenbin, a psychology researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a top government think tank, as saying.

One of the main reason that’s given in the article as to why so many young people become addicted is “a lack of diversions at schools”, which makes me wonder what “diversions” would be needed to help curb the Internet addiction problem. China definitely has some catching up to do when it comes to providing technology for teaching and learning in schools, but even once that happens, they’ll still need to develop ways to teach kids to use technology in meaningful, ethical, and safe ways. Not too much different from other parts of the world where the technology is readily available for learning…

Image credit: “Internet Cafe”. draq’s photostream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hendry/140068806/

Teachers Take Heed, Part II

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I just finished reading Jeff Utecht’s anniversary post, “1 year and counting” on the Thinking Stick. I’ve been following Jeff’s blog for a while now, originally because he’s working in education in Shanghai, a city I visited this summer and am still very intrigued by. However, the more I’m reading his blog, the more I’m realizing how issues of teaching, learning, and technology are similar all over the world. The context may change, but at their core, the issues that Jeff faces are very similar to the ones we face here in Ohio. This may be an indication of a world that is increasingly connected at global levels. If only we could get more teachers to see the power of the Read/Write Web.

 I could say many more things about Jeff’s post, as much of what he says about getting into the Read/Write Web rings very true for me as well, but I really urge you to go read his post yourself to get the full effect. In any event, congratulations Jeff, and here’s to your second year 🙂 Keep sharing…

Image Credit: http://jeff.scofer.com/thinkingstick/(I actually borrowed the Image Header from his blog 😉 )

Kids Can Teach Us a Thing or Two…

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Jeff Utecht is a teacher at the Shanghai American School whose students are doing some amazing things with technology. Here is the latest example: Teentek.com. Jeff describes the origins of this site in this blog post. The site is run by kids and is for kids. While I could go into great detail about how this is a great example of student-centered learning and technology as a tool to eliminate the barriers between school and world, what really struck me about Teentek is how some of the kids involved with it are talking about what technology means to them. For example (from Jeff’s post):

Once upon a time, technology was a way of using tools to solve problems. Now, in the 21st century, it’s way of communication and information gathering that is central in almost every part of our lives. Economy, entertainment, communication. Without technology, the rate at which these things happen would slow down to a snail’s pace. So what exactly IS technology, you ask? Technology is the way we use tools to communicate and gather information, at a basic level. These include cellphones, video games, and most importantly, computers.

Another example of technology use by kids for kids is Tony Vincent’s Our City Podcast, where kids (with some help from their teachers, as this one is more classroom-based) can submit podcasts about their hometowns.

It’s amazing what kids are capable of doing when we let them …

Image credit: One of Jeff Utecht’s students 🙂 : http://www.flickr.com/photos/63444054@N00/246321151/

Ubiquitous = Access?

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In a recent post, entitled “Another Side of China“, I wrote about how the Chinese government is determining what cartoons will be shown on prime time TV to protect its own industry. As we all know, the Chinese government is also monitoring and censoring certain Internet content, including parts of Google and Yahoo. More recently, a similar debate has started around Wikipedia’s entry into China. Today, I ran into an issue related to this, this time with access to Internet content of an academic nature. I was contacted by a Chinese master’s student who was looking for a few dissertations written by doctoral students in the U.S. She had the titles but could not get access to the full documents, or even an abstract. I ended up finding abstracts for her and sent them to her via email, as I couldn’t do it through MSN.

I started thinking more about this later in the day, and I now wonder if the Chinese government is blocking certain academic content in order to protect China’s research by forcing Chinese scholars to predominantly look at Chinese research. Obviously, for teaching and learning purposes, this is not a good thing, as it narrows the body of knowledge you have access to. In that respect, we are pretty spoiled in the U.S., as access to information is much easier.

However, the whole net neutrality issue could change that in the U.S. (I blogged about that in the post “Threats to Ubiquitous Computing“). In a way, a loss of net neutrality would have a similar effect to access to information via the Internet, in that certain content would be very difficult or impossible to access for people who have a slow connection (think media content like video). And even though this would not be a form of censorship by the government, if the government is going to allow the creation of a tiered system of access, it would certainly be condoned by it.

Either way, whether content would be completely blocked (as in China), or made virtually inaccessible (as may happen in the U.S.), ubiquitous access to technology does not necessarily equal ubiquitous access to information. This is something that learners of all ages should know about and realize when they access the deluge of information we call the Internet. In the back of your mind, you should always wonder what information is NOT there, and who is responsible for that. However, as in the example I described here, sometimes technology does provide you with ways to access what you normally couldn’t…

Too Much of a Good Thing…

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It’s funny how new information about Internet technology and China keep popping up in my Feedreader. Here’s a rundown of a few recent pieces:

In a post dated 7/5/06 on ChangeWaves, John Cashman writes about China’s increased attempts to provide IP Protection to help companies protect their intellectual property, and potential issues related to government involvement.

Then there was this article on CNN yesterday entitled:  “MySpace founder adds China to friends list” discussing how Brad Greenspan is going to try to enter the Chinese Internet market:

Brad Greenspan said Wednesday that he founded BroadWebAsia, which has in turn taken stakes in 20 Chinese Internet companies that focus on entertainment and — like MySpace — social networking.

Seems like things are moving right along in China, especially in cities like Shanghai that seem to be ahead of the curve. Of course, all of this Internet access also comes with a price, as this article (and I found it posted on several sites inside and outside of China, the original source is the Shanghai Daily) shows: “Web addict ‘shelter’ opens”:

CHINA has opened its first halfway house for internet addicts, offering shell-shocked teenagers counselling, books – and the use of computers.

The shelter can hold four minors for one-night stays and help bridge gaps between children and parents, the Shanghai Daily said.

“None of the teenagers are forced to come here,” the newspaper quoted Wang Hui, the house’s chief social worker, as saying.

“We wander around in nearby internet bars at night and bring them to the halfway house if the teen agrees.”

Computer and online gaming has exploded in China in recent years, with an estimated 14 million people taking part.

While 14 million people is but a fraction of the population of China, it’s still a very large group of people, and I suspect that most of them would be in their teens and twenties. As we keep blogging, discussing, and reflecting on ubiquitous technology for teaching, learning, and life, let’s keep in mind that there can be too much of a good thing…

Another side of China

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After the great experiences I had in Shanghai, running into this article today was certainly a reality check:

China bans Simpsons from prime-time TV

An excerpt:

The Associated Press

BEIJING — D’oh! China has banished Homer Simpson, Pokemon and Mickey Mouse from prime time. Beginning Sept. 1, regulators have barred foreign cartoons from TV from 5 to 8 p.m. in an effort to protect China’s struggling animation studios, news reports said Sunday. The move allows the Monkey King and his Chinese pals to get the top TV viewing hours to themselves.

Having the technology available, like the ubiquitous TV screens I saw all over Shanghai, especially in public transportation, is one thing, being able to choose content is another. The article really reinforced my observations that as much as Shanghai is modernizing, the traditional culture and politics are still strong. It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds, as there has been criticism to this decision in China itself…