Written and shared by
Mark W. Carbone
Google Plus: +markwcarbone
I recently enjoyed a family trip to China in the context of “the journey home” for my adopted daughter. The trip in of itself was simply amazing. I enjoyed going back, seeing the changes and once again experiencing the culture in such an amazing and historic country.
Given the 1997 timing of my first trip we essentially survived on landline calling cards as public internet access and early versions of email were just springing up around the globe. On this 2014 trip, of course the internet as matured and there are many amazing and often free collaborative tools available, so in that sense the trip felt less isolated.
At the same time, I had a chance to experience the “internet culture” in a much more locked down and filtered government controlled environment. Tools that we celebrate, use and promote here in North America were simply not available. Most social media tools were not available including Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Of the Google suite of tools, only gmail and search were available and even these had seemingly limited use. Gmail seemed to respond very slowly and not all search result web links were actively available. I also noted the some, but not all, blogging sites were blocked. Facetime and Skype worked OK (band width dependent).
The notion of public free wifi as we experience here at locations such as McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s and Starbucks etc. was not wide spread. Yes, the wifi was free but you needed to text your phone number to a service in order to obtain an access code which would be texted back to you. This is a very different approach to walk in free access for any device culture that is enjoyed in North America.
Here in Canada, we are blessed with a very open culture and full access to a wide variety of web tools. The bottom line is YOU have a voice – and a choice of tools to use. Please do not take take this for granted. Leverage this privilege! Take time and make time to connect with other educators to develop your network and make your thinking visible by sharing your learnings and reflections. Ask questions, pose scenarios, collaborate. Give yourself a rich experience by starting a blog today!