Audio Log:Leo Laoshi talks with Alexander Hayes
It's an interesting situation when your guest speaker states that Skype is blocked after you've spent 5 hours the night before ensuring all Skypecast connections are valid.
It's even more interesting when you've arrived at work only to find that you yourself as the Skypecast convenor are blocked from access.
Despite these vagaries I managed to get in a chat with Leo last night which gives you an idea as to what he's up to at SooChow University with his Freshmen and Sophomores.
Time coded log
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Introductions between Alex and Leo. Adjusting volume settings. Reasons for making the recording (just in case Skypecast doesn't work)
- Reasons for making the recording
- Alex asks "what does it mean for Leo to be living in a networked world, and how it is to be connected to TALO"
- Leo replies "he joined TALO about one year ago, he started using a blog about 5 years ago, ...
- "... and he used to just write anything on his blog"
- Leo continues, he wrote an email to Leigh, and Leigh suggested that Leo join TALO, so that is how Leo joined TALO.
- Alex asks Leo, how long has he been using blogging with his students for?
- Leo: hmm, actually, for using blog in very serious manor, only about 1 year.
- Alex: one year yeah.
- Leo: umm, (inaudible) I began to use a blog much more seriously from this year.
- Alex: Are you having difficulties using blogging as part of your teaching and learning in China?
- Leo: Yep. First of all I was using the (inaudible - a blog service probably) and I been using that for about 3 years -
- Alex: Ok
- Leo: .. but then I just found out that it had been blocked by the government, so actually I stopped blog for about 1 year - oh no, 1/2 a year I think.
- Alex: Was it difficult for you to be able to post openly on the web was it?
- Leo: yeah.. umm. sorry?
- Alex: Was it difficult, or was it hard for you to be able to blog for a period of time, did the Government make it difficult for you?
- Leo: Yeah, actually, there are many other services, umm, some other around that I can use, so for me I just feel that it is someting I am getting used to using. I didn't like having to change to another one at that time. But then, from this year I began to use Wordpress, which is a new blog for me.
- Alex: What does it mean for you Leo, to have these connections?
- Leo: Actually, umm, I never thought about that, but one thing I would like to say is its really something different like I began to openly write something to my blog...
- Leo cont': ...about my work and things that I am doing. And then I found that I need the more social network instead of just myself. So the one thing that happened to me that has changed my mind is based in Taiwan there is a group of teachers, they're not from mainland, they are from Taiwan, they are Chinese teachers - they teach Chinese to the foreigners.
Alex: yeah.. Leo: So one teacher, she is a teacher in Japan, she started something like a blog but she use it like something like SMS, I dunno something like that..
- Leo cont': .. and like connect the different teachers from all over the world. Its everywhere. Its in Australia, New Zealand, America, and I think I was the only one from the mainland at that time.
- Alex: oh right!
- Leo: and I'm talking with a group of other teachers and they all specialize on the same subject which really make big difference in my teaching so I realised that its very very useful. It has been very helpful for me to talk with other teachers and to share what I've been teaching with my students and I think that is something that is really opening my eyes. And make me feel that I can use the blogs ...
- Leo cont': and use the social networks with my students and a teacher I have never met before.
- Alex: Absolutely! And have you been using, or what sorts of things have you been using, what tools have you been using with your teachers and students and does your organisation understand what you are doing? Do they understand that you are connecting with other people around the world?
- Leo: Umm if you look at my slides I was preparing for tomorrow's talk -
- Alex: Yes I've seen them already
- Leo: Ok, and the problem is I do not have many of the support from my school
- Alex: You don't?
- Leo: that I am teaching -
- ALex: Do they understand what you're doing? do they know how important it is what you're doing?
- Leo: I'm trying to tell them something about that -
- Alex: Yeah!
- Leo: but mostly by what I'm doing instead of telling them something because I'm just a teacher (laughs)
- Alex: But a very important one because you are connecting with many people across the world and we really admire what your doing with your students particularly. We can see the work with your students, the way they reflect on their learning, the web2 tools they're using to connect with other people to do group work and team work together, and you have many ahh - you talk about courage to teach, what do you mean by courage to teach?
- Leo: Umm, there's a book I was reading a long time ago, I dunno if you know this book -
- Alex: Ahh no, tell us about that book, what have you been doing?
- Leo: umm, while I'm using web2 like blogs, I have to be something like very strong, not only emotionally but with wisdom and courage, because for me like umm, I'll give example OK?
- Alex: yeah
- Leo: 2 weeks ago I was talking with one of my students online, youknow, in my class we have an online community group, umm service, people can talk..
- Alex: Yes yes
- Leo: Some of the students, we'd be talking, I've become very close with my students thats for sure, but another point I feel confused because as a teacher, how, like what, I put my emotions into the teaching and my emotions into my students, and I feel that it is kinda hard for me...
- Leo cont':Actually there is one guy from the UK, he is my supervisor, his name is Adam and he was telling me that it is not a good idea to be emotionally involved with your students.
- Alex: Ah, how do you avoid that though? I mean when you are working with people its almost impossible not to be emotional.
- Leo: Yeah, but I think what he mean is I should keep a professional distance.
- Alex: Of course, yeah..
- Leo: But sometimes I do not agree with him, because especially after using this (inaudible - probably the online forum service) ..
- Leo cont': I ask my students to use this website called (inaudible) this is ah very nice -
- Alex: It is!
- Leo: yeah, its like a picture hoster, like blogging, micro blogging website. And this is something I was using for the last 3 months and some of the students they are using this as their assignments - their powerpoint and their slides, but at times they also use this to upload some of their own pictures which have nothing to do with my class ..
- Alex: ok
- Leo: Yeah, and through this process I found that I know more about my students.
- Alex: So you starte dto know what was going on in their lives.
- Leo: Yes, it is good but I begin to feel emotionally involved with the students. For instance I was writing to another blogger and Alex you just asked a question to me about what is meaning living in a networked world
- Alex: Yes
- Leo: Well I feel like I don't have a person or that I am pretty much alone in China and doing all this kinda stuff, but at the same time I was reading about one blog post, I can't spell the name, it was a very long name (laughs)
- Alex: that's OK
- Leo: the blog is very famous I think it is teachandlearn.ca that is a great blog. and I was reading about how teachers are getting to know students individually and I feel very much united to that post even though we are in a different culture.
- Alex: That's right, and the same happens to me Leo. I work with adult students who I teach and I've been connecting with them in a way that helps them to understand the importance of blogging and the use of tools such as wikis and the importance of connecting using the Internet, so that connection to me is very very strong too.
- Leo: Yeah, I just feel like umm, I am learning a lot by connecting with people I did not before. I was only learning by myself. I feel that this way of learning is more effective for me. And I think that it is a good idea for me to add that environment for my students.
- Alex: Absolutely
- Leo: So that they also can learn, not only from my class but also from other people. So another example would be last week, one of my students - her name is Kiky, she is in her final assignment and it is called micro blogging -
- Alex: Micro blogging, yes small like twitter
- Leo: yes like Twitter, very short. And I tried to encourage her to do something like a survey or something like that, or find out someone they can interview.
- Alex: hmm