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This is a little dated but relevant nonetheless... Dated, because inside China, Ning networks are generally blocked.

When Barack Obama spoke with students in Shanghai during his recent trip to China, he gently prompted (and anyone who understands cultural competencies, knows that you don't get anywhere hitting Asian cultures over the head with Western ideas about "political freedoms") the Chinese to open up their systems of communication, even at the risk of inviting criticisms of government policies. The wholesale blocking of social networks like Facebook, YouTube, and Ning can have a counterproductive side by preventing Chinese students from having access to some of the West's most valuable educational resources and learning opportunities. (See Wesley Fryer's blog post on the role of IT departments here.)

I've recently returned from China after a month-long journey that started at the Xi Hu Conference on 21st Century Learning at the incredibly gorgeous Xi Hu (West Lake) conference center in Hangzhou, just an hour's bus ride from Shanghai's Pudong International Airport.


The conference lineup reads like a Who's Who of Education Innovators and Futurists. First, Mike Searson of Kean University gets kudos for having pulled off this remarkable conference, because anyone who has ever tried to pull off a conference of this scale in any venue, never mind China during an H1N1 global pandemic, knows how tough this is to do and do it well. It was very well done. So, thanks to Mike!

Here's a sampling of the Conference on 21st Century Skills presenter lineup:
  • Milton Chen from Edutopia, Keynote, The Digital Generation: Up Close and Personal. Milton traveled with his 90 year-old mother, her first trip back to China since leaving on a boat during the triumph of the Communists over the Nationalists 60 years ago this year.
  • ISTE's Don Knezek, Keynote, Global Digital-Age Learning, Teaching, and Educational Leadership Skills
  • Jerome Burg, GoogleLitTrips: Great Literature, Global Education and Modern Technology for 21st Century Students and Educators
  • David Gibson (MacArthur / HASTAC Digital Media Award Winner), Global Challenge, Promoting Teaching Preparation and Proficiency through Simulated Learning Experiences in Interactive, Online Environments
  • John Mergendoller, Buck Institute for Education, What Does Effective Project Based Learning Look Like?
  • Joe Lambert, The Center for Digital Storytelling, The Place of Story
  • Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, CCC in the 21C: Create, Communicate, Collaborate
  • Gerald Knezek, Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, ICT and 21st Century Learning: Findings from the International Handbook for ICT in Primary and Secondary Education
  • Cathie Norris, Mobile Learning Institute, Getting Mobile: Bringing K12 Classrooms into the 21st Century
  • Jessica Li, Author, Virtual Worlds and Human Resource Development
  • Ian Gibson, MacQuarie University, Changing Landscapes: Rethinking the Preparation of Educational Professionals for the 21st Century
  • Oscar Stringer, Using Animation to Enhance the Curriculum
  • Joe Morelock, Apple Distinguished Educator, Content and Mobile Devices in 21st Century Learning
  • Kathy Shirley, Apple Distinguished Educator, iPods and Language Acquisition
  • Janice Cheng, THINK Global School, Education Without Walls
  • Aaron Doering, University of Minnesota, Designing for Learning: Engaging Students and Teachers from the Arctic to Australia
I added my piece by sharing the Five Socio-Technology Trends that Change Everything in Learning and Teaching.

So warm, subtropical Hangzhou is where I started. Subzero Guyuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northwest China is where I ended this particular adventure. For a recap of my travels from Hangzhou to Guyuan, see the account attached here... Returning to Ningxia. Enjoy and comment, please.

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Steve, thanks for the review of the conference I didn't make it to here in China. I do hope we catch up in Beijing sometime soon.

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