My son, who’s just started “Computer Labs” at school, came home all eager to tell us about this “Google” thing on the Internet. So far, we haven’t particularly encouraged computer use at home. We got into an interesting family talk which was reported back to the teacher, then Lauren and I found ourselves invited to come in and teach the Internet to the class. So we set up scratch blogging space; this ended up being instructive both for them and us.
I went and spent $8 for a decent class-related domain name, and Lauren whipped up a WordPress blog, which there was room for in her current hosting package (BTW, she’s been very happy with Canadian Web Hosting). My son’s in a learn-Mandarin program in a school where a high proportion of the students are of Chinese ancestry, so we used the nice Simple China theme.
Then I made a bunch of Author accounts for the blog, with names like “Bouncy”, “Chilly”, “Groovy”, “Happy”, “Jumpy”, “Peachy”... English has an inexhaustible supply of anodyne adjectives ending in “y”. I printed out a little slip for each student with their account and password.
I asked the class “Who’s allowed to write things on the Internet?” Blank faces; someone offered “The government?” I said “Anybody!” and had them visit the empty class blog-site. A chorus of “Wow, cool!” We showed them how to log in and use WordPress’ admirable “QuickPress” feature, and for their first outing I had them post what they’d had for breakfast.
Which went mostly OK, with only one post claiming “boiled human hearts”. Then I asked them “Did you all tell the truth?” and went with the homily about not necessarily believing what you read on the Net. I think it hit home.
Then I asked them why they thought we’d given them the funny names and they got it right away; I suppose they’d already had the dangerous-Internet briefing. Can’t hurt to reinforce it.
Next, we were going to teach the notion of a link, but the class, mad with the joy of posting, was slipping away from us; there over a hundred posts by the end of the hour. It started to get a little dicey, with one fifth-grader having “hated the frikking math test” and another making a jokey allegation about their teacher, but the joke might have gone sideways on the Net.
Anyhow, it was mostly OK and the kids had a blast and maybe learned some things. After I got back to my office, I deleted the questionable bits and disabled further posting while wondering whether it’d actually been smart to unleash 26 ten-year-olds on the big wild Internet. But on balance, my heart was warmed by all the raw giggly eagerness.
The last post before I shut things down.
ni hao i hav a gran gran she was great then she died