While many teachers have embraced social media to engage students outside of class, the vast majority of teachers have had little to no exposure to the social website with the most users in the world: Sina Weibo. Given the growing number of Chinese students in western universities and high schools, knowledge of Weibo (pronounced “way-bwuh”) is an essential tool 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.
I recently came across an excellent report on the systemic problems that exist in the process of Chinese applicants applying to American universities.
I was glad that the authors included the topic of elite Chinese high schools preferring their students attend highly ranked Chinese universities rather than any foreign university.
Beijing’s horrible pollution – of such toxicity that by some estimates that on that historically terrible day breathing in Beijing was equivalent to smoking 20+ cigarettes – made international news over the past weeks. This isn’t a bad thing…but consider that apart from the aforementioned terrible day, Beijing usually doesn’t have the worst air quality in the country. On a typical bad day (AQI 500+, meaning a day in which there is so much pollution that the air quality index can no longer be accurately measured and people are recommended to stay indoors), Beijing usually doesn’t crack the top ten most polluted cities. Where’s the international coverage of that?
Some photos from home and work of bad and good pollution days:
The view from my office on a good day.
The view from the living room on a good day.
The view from my office on a bad day.
The view from the living room on a bad day.
What a great deal!?
A Nokia N9 for ¥1180? An iPhone 4S for just ¥2080? Sign me up!
Oh, wait. It’s a Nokla N9 and a Phone 4S. Maybe I’ll pass.
To be fair, though, we saw these ads on Fengxing (风行网)…a program used pretty much exclusively to download pirated movies. Intellectual property rights probably aren’t super important to the typical 风行网 user, but not being cheated is.