BAM and the Chinese “firewall”

BAM (blog aggregation management) is a tool used by a number of CQU courses. It’s mainly used to help staff observe and mark individual student reflective journals. The journals are hosted on freely available blogs that the students set up and then register with BAM. Normally, we advise students to use WordPress.com for their blog, but there’s now a small problem. Any suggestions?

The problem is that one of the students in one of the courses is currently studying from China. China has restricted access to english blog websites as part of its regulation of Internet access. The student has asked if it’s ok to submit reflections directly.

Solutions?

An obvious solution would be to use a blog engine from within China and register it with BAM. This should, theoretically, work fine from a technical perspective. However, the language issue might be interesting.

The problem is helping the student find such an engine (only a minority of students are familiar enough with the net/blogs to be able to solve this problem themselves, with ease). So, does anyone know of any blog engines within China the student could use?

Stepping back a bit more, there is also the question about whether or not this is the best solution for the student. One of the assumptions about the design of BAM is that there is value in having the student’s blogs freely available for others to see. In this context, does that value remain?

I have no idea about what it is like to live within China under the current Internet regulation. However, given some of the struggles I’ve seen my academic colleagues in Australia have with being open in their blogging, I can see how a student within China might be somewhat reluctant.

2 thoughts on “BAM and the Chinese “firewall”

  1. On a related note, what will happen to CQU access from China when blogging and ePortfolios are publically available through Moodle? Will China block the whole site? Have there been concerns raised before from Chinese students about accessing all of their content through Bb that may or may not be terminated at any time?

    If there is already some arrangement toward educational institutions then it would seem an easy way would be to let the student trial the new moodle system for blogging. Might even help with the BAM integration?

    1. G’day Tony,

      I doubt, based on my currently limited knowledge of Moodle, that blogging/ePortfolios will ever be publicaly available from Moodle. At least not as likely to be implemented at CQU.

      I expect that for the foreseeable future that Moodle@CQU will require an institutional account to access information.

      This is an important theoretical difference between BAM and Moodle – again, based on my limited knowledge of Moodle. Moodle and its services are owned by the institution and generally limited to folk within the institution.

      BAM’s assumption is that the only the bare minimum services should be institutionally owned and restricted. In the case of BAM, the interface/services for marking and managing the individual student blogs.

      The blogs and their content should be open, and at the very least student owned. Not institution owned and provided.

      The institution and its systems should focus on those services that are specific to it. Not broadly available services that are better than anything they can ever provide.

      David.

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