November 9, 2009
Families build Web sites over dumplings
College event explains social technology
What do dumplings and Internet Web sites have in common? One SUNY Cortland professor may have found the answer.
“For the Chinese people, making dumplings is a family activity, a way to enjoy time together,” said Dr. Shufang Shi, assistant professor of early childhood education. “Web sites are also a way for families to connect and share information.”
On Saturday, Shi hosted “Chinese Dumplings and Technology,” an event for parents and young children to build their own Web sites and enjoy a tasty bite to eat at the Children’s Museum at O’Heron Newman Hall on the SUNY campus.
Among the people there, Shi guided Kai Hokanson, 6, and his mother, Kerri Freese, in using open source, or free, software to create a simple Web site. Kai wanted to post a picture of himself for his grandparents, who live in San Diego, to see.
“Kai uses the computer lab at school,” Freese said. “They play math and word games but they don’t do this kind of thing. I wanted to give Kai a chance to build a Web site.”
After Kai logged in to wikispaces.com and created his home page, Shi snapped a photo of him using her digital camera. Kai then uploaded the shot to his page. He posted a note to his grandparents, inviting them to put their own photos on the page for he and his parents to see.
“This is fun,” Kai said of his first Web page design experience.
Shi called herself a “big advocate” of open source software, which is available free on the Internet, as a teaching tool. She teaches courses for graduate and undergraduate education students on several topics, including: integrating computers into their classrooms; using cutting-edge technology and open source software; and on conducting educational research on their own teaching techniques.
“We can integrate technology into learning, but we can’t use it to replace teachers,” she said. “We need to make sure it helps the kids learn better.”
Meanwhile, other children and parents made dumplings to snack on. A simple process, dough wrappers are filled, folded and either boiled or fried in oil. Shi prepared a filling made of sweet sausage, Chinese cabbage, chives and soy sauce. The raw dumplings were then put in a pot of water for a quick five-minute boil. The platters of dumplings cast a savory aroma throughout the room and were quickly gobbled up.
Olivia Velazquez, 6, decided to use chopsticks, for the first time, to eat her dumpling. After a few anxious moments, she persisted and finally managed to get her dumpling from plate to mouth.
“It’s good,” she said.
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