If You Give Bieber A Bike . . .

Mostly Nonsense

A Bieber flavored over simplication on the fallacy of hardware creating change. Probably useless but it amused me for the presentation and the audience seemed to enjoy it. My 20 minute presentation ended up being a 90 minute conversation.

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If you give Bieber a bike will he get home more quickly?

It seems like a straightforward question, an easy answer. Of course the bike will get him home faster.
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But we tend to make a number of assumptions. It could be you’re a Bieber fan and you know where Bieber is now and where his home/homes are, maybe you’re a Belieber and you even know which home he’s going to. Most people don’t. They don’t know where Bieber is nor where he’s going despite general agreement on the definition of “home.”

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Furthermore, I don’t know if Bieber can drive a motorcycle or if he can drive this motorcycle. If he can drive a motorcycle, how well can he do it? Does he have gas? Is a helmet required?

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Now if we give Bieber a bike and he can drive it, we have to think about the terrain between where he’s starting and where he wants to go. Maybe there’s a forest in between those two points. A forest without roads or gas stations. This street bike will actually slow him down. Maybe there’s a road and things will work out really well.

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If there’s an ocean between the two points, then requiring a motorcycle will likely result in Bieber drowning. That will substantially delay his return home.

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Things begin to get complex and we have yet to address monkey transportation and associated documentation.

So my final answer ends up being “it depends” which happens to be the same answer I give on whether or not technology will impact student learning.

Slightly Less Nonsense

Continuing in the Bieber theme . . .
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This is the recent quote and associated Internet furor that led to the Bieber flavor of this presentation. I learned quite a bit about Bieber as a result. This quote is a decent example of the kind of flexibility technology provides for teachers. Access to current events and the ability to associate these events with a variety of other resources quickly and easily is unique and matters. I can now use this quote to drive a conversation and build interesting extensions and associations through other media elements. There are lots of easy wins in both English and history. Naturally, showing students the quote doesn’t require them to have computers but building experiences off of that quote is made far easier and offers far more opportunities if students have technology and Internet access.

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The association of technology with current events is pretty obvious. I don’t think the association of technology with historical sources is as publicized. The fact that I can provide copies of a handwritten letter from a US soldier at Dachau written on SS stationary is amazing. It is not the same as holding the material but it’s far more visceral than reading a type written version or getting a quoted excerpt in a textbook. Technology removes a number of restrictions that have long shaped the content we are able to provide as well as the things we were able to do with that content.

From there I showed them where some of our students at Moody MS, with the help of Will Berry, (one of our awesome ITRTs) had been taking this historical material and using Timeline JS to build interactive multimedia timelines on WWII. Students selecting and curating primary source material to enrich a historical story is not revolutionary but technology allows for access to a breadth and depth of material that was previously impossible. The ability for many students to build collaboratively and create an interactive product that other students could actually use is fairly unique as well.

I said a few other things as well but that’s the gist of where things went with the Bieber.

Comments on this post

  1. Alan Levine (@cogdog) said on April 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Such Woodwardian brilliance in lighting up a metaphor (never in a gazillion years would have I dreamt of using Bieber as a symbol of anything) and then driving it home. You, are an idea artist.

    • Tom Woodward said on April 18, 2013 at 7:44 am

      I am glad I amuse people other than myself as the siren song of pop stardom is difficult to resist. One of the older gentlemen at the presentation though the Bieb was a member of The Monkees. That continues to amuse me.

  2. Brian said on May 16, 2013 at 1:36 am

    You are a truly unique and indispensable voice. This post not only articulates a very wise way to approach analysis of education technology, it stands as a testament to what blogging can be.

    • Tom Woodward said on May 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      I’m going to have to use Bieber in more posts. 🙂

      Seriously, I appreciate the kind words from such good people.

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