While many teachers have embraced social websites (twitter, facebook, Google+) to engage students outside of the classroom and expand opportunities for learning, the vast majority of teachers have had little to no exposure to the social website with the most users in the world: Sina Weibo, China’s most popular microblogging website. Given the growing number of Chinese students in western universities and high schools, knowledge of Weibo (pronounced “way-bwuh”) is essential – if you work with Chinese students, Weibo is without a doubt the best way to extend learning outside of class.
The below is not a guide to using Weibo (setting up an account, posting, following people, etc). Others have already written excellent guides (such as Bill Bishop’s “Inside Sina Weibo” presentation), and I have no desire to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I’d like to make some suggestions on how to use the website based upon my own experiences using Weibo with my own students.
What is Weibo?
Weibo is most commonly described as “Chinese twitter”, and is the most popular micro-blogging platform in China. Weibo has more than twice the number of active users than twitter does, and many argue that Weibo offers better/richer features. Like twitter, Weibo lets users write 140 character messages, which can be shared, forwarded, or commented upon. Weibo also allows sharing of pictures, movies, and audio – generally in ways superior to those offered by twitter. We will look at some of these below and think about how to make the most of them. Continue Reading →