This was an exercise in unexpected frustration. I understand the word barrier in a new way. For those of you that follow my blog regularly, you might remember that last year at spring break I engaged in a co-blogging experiment with my grade 8 son (see here). At that time, he was using very little technology at school. The students in my district seemed to have more opportunities and diverse ways to express their learning than my own children. Co-blogging was a way to expose my son to doing things differently and digitally. It was interesting for both of us. We decided to do it again (yes, with a little encouragement from mom).
This time, however, our blogging exercise almost fell off the rails. Why? Simply put– lousy, unreliable, unpredictable and s*l*o*w wireless. Clearly, the motel had insufficient bandwidth; too many people with too many devices trying to get on in the evening. (There will be no confession here of the number of devices my family of six had employed). There is nothing like that to dampen one’s enthusiasm. Creativity, interest, and motivation—they disappear pretty fast. “Mom, it’s not working again. Mom, it’s too slow.” We became wireless freeloaders trying to jump the track on any local wireless we could find. I felt like a hobo tramp trying to ride the rails. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough freight trains around. And frankly, I was looking for a Japanese bullet train . At one point, we were up-to-date on our entries but couldn’t get on seamlessly or consistently or when we needed to upload them. Then we would quit. Not much else we could do. And then we got behind. And it piled up. And it felt more like a chore. And when we wanted to play, to fiddle with design, to learn something new, we just received the dreaded “spinning wheel of death.”
Last year my son was fascinated by the stats on the back of the blog. He could monitor who was reading it, from what country and what particular type of device they were using. He was entertained by the experience. There were a few colleagues that commented and he tracked that as well. However, this year, there was none of that stimulating feedback, as we simply could not get things done on-line.
The deed is done. We have a record of our adventure, Spring break 2013: Slot Canyons, Slickrock and Arches . We finally finished but we didn’t post it daily, simultaneously, to share with family and friends as we had hoped. My parents, armchair travellers, haven’t vicariously travelled the trip with us. They will, however, have it now. And because they are our cheerleaders, it will absolutely thrill them to share our world.
When one writes and shares it publicly, it is about opening one’s life and being to others. There is both vulnerability and connection is doing so. It is both the risk and power of social media. We can use technology to make us human, to make us real, to make us vulnerable, to make us known, and make us understood.
Some things we take for granted. I am fortunate at home and at work. I can access Web 2.0 tools whenever I want. That’s what I want for my own children. That’s what I want for the teachers and students in my district. No technological barriers to learning. No unexpected frustrations but endless opportunities to be digitally engaged in learning.