What Can We Learn From the Bike Helmet Paradox?

In my neighbourhood I'm affectionately known as crazy because my family and I ride our bikes everywhere - so crazy that I get into the local paper just for riding to work:)

This photo of me appeared in our municipal newspaper. In my neighbourhood I’m affectionately known as crazy because my family and I ride our bikes everywhere – so insane that I get into the local paper just for riding to work:)

A few questions to begin.

You would agree that people, especially children, should wear helmets when riding a bike, yes? Why am I even asking? If your eyes are on this blog, you’re likely an educator, parent, or both; it’s kind of our thing to be in favour of this stuff. Now be honest: do you hate the way bike helmets mess up your hair? What about the way they look and feel? Could be designed better, you say? Well, guess what, researchers have discovered something counter intuitive but logical.

In most Western nations, bike helmets are mandated by law. Statistically, we have seen an overall decrease in bike-related head injuries that can directly be correlated to these trends. This data should support the rationale behind bike helmet legislation. Except for the fact that there are other correlations:

  • Many people admit they dislike biking because wearing a helmet is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and unattractive.
  • The type of injuries bike helmets are designed to prevent rarely occur.
  • The fervour with which bike helmets have been mandated is not matched in any way with similar infrastructure (safer lanes, reduced speeds in urban areas etc.) that makes cycling significantly safer than helmets do.
  • People ride their bikes (an incredibly healthy activity) far less than ever.

What does this mean, and what analogies can we make to other initiatives in education?

Is Tweeting for Everyone?

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user Lonics

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user Lonics

In the same way that it is not for everyone in our everyday lives, is it not entirely possible that Twitter and blogging legitimately doesn’t apply to all educators? There’s no question that social media spaces can provide small to large benefits to pedagogues, ranging from simple utility to deep transformation respectively. However, who’s to say ?

I don’t know about you, but I have always felt comfortable and content with the idea that, while I myself cannot imagine doing this profession without my beloved learning network, perhaps it’s legitimately silly, if not irrelevant, for another educator.

What do you think: is tweeting for everyone?

Why I Left Instagram

Twitter _ mbteach_ Ugh. I guess it_s time to stop ...

I read Mary Beth’s tweet and accompanying link about an hour ago and decided to delete my Instagram account. I’m leaving it for my first love, Flickr. It’s not because I haven’t found it to be a beautifully engineered app and social network. Nor is it because I haven’t found it funner than anything, as my son would say. It’s not even because I think their terms of service are necessarily any more clandestine or problematic than any one else’s (hello, my beloved Google). Moreover, although I’ve never Facebooked, I’m not going to pretend to be the most well-informed critic of their privacy policies or ambitions for world domination (read Maira Sutton’s post for a good one). Sure, this post would be a lot better if I could quote some Clay Shirky or Marshall McLuhan, but, at the end of the day, I just…really…felt like it. Here’s why:

  1. I use Flickr almost daily for CC licensed images that I can reuse, remix, or recycle. I need to get back to contributing to this great community as well.
  2. I like the fact that all of my Flickr photos are set up to automatically be CC licensed.
  3. All of my Flickr photos get uploaded in full resolution. I found myself taking too many photos in low resolution because of being in the Instagram world.
  4. Flickr has finally updated their app to include Instagrammy filters.
  5. I’m not a fan of Facebook.
  6. Flickr gives me so many more administrative options to play with my photos’ settings. I want those controls back.

Are you sticking with Instagram, or leaving the club?

Become my friend on flickr!

Social Media and Introverts

If there’s one myth which I am perturbed by, it is the one that goes something like this.

Well, you know, getting technology in there is going to be great for those disengaged, behavioural boys…

There are so many things wrong with this stereotype of our metaphorical wild animals suddenly being tamed at the sight of a touchscreen, but I’m going to focus my attention on one in particular.

In my experience using social media and web 2.0 (SMW2.0) tools with students since basically their inception, I would say that if it favours or holds a bias towards any one identifiable student demographic at all, it would be our introverts.

Before writing this post, I had a glance back at what you might call my own data. In the past two years, I have introduced and guided nearly 200 adolescent students in the use of Google Apps for Education, Voicethread, Animoto, Bitstrips, Prezi, Today’s Meet, and other well known SMW2.0 tools. All of them have had the ability to not only complete assignments and projects mandated by myself as their teacher, but also to take initiative and create, post, respond at their leisure 24/7.

I went through my list of 184 and started by tagging each based on the results of a survey I had them complete from Susan Cain’s website:



Ambivert (difficult to identify as only one)

I then compared this information with another where I assessed their engagement with SMW2.0:

1 – Exhibiting little engagement, rarely posting even when teacher required them to do so.

2 – Exhibiting some engagement, usually when the teacher outlined a specific task to accomplish.

3 – Exhibiting significant engagement, posting frequently.

4 – Exhibiting a high level of engagement, posting most frequently, to the point where we learn about skills, ideas, and aspects of their personality that are rarely shown outwardly in class.

Here are the results of my mom ‘n’ pop research:

What do you think this says about social media and introverts?

Cross posted at Stephen Hurley‘s awesome blog Teaching Out Loud.

Also check out my conversation with Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, as well as her take on Why Gadgets are Great for Introverts.

Culture of Fear + Attention Economy = ?!?!

Thank goodness I follow people like Michelle Solomon and Carlo Fusco for alerting me to the following videos of Danah Boyd talking about the extent and implications of our society’s culture of fear. My mind was spinning for days after hearing some of her synthesized ideas.

And click here for an interview with Danah Boyd.

Join us at #nxnei

Join Shannon Smith, Danika Barker, Lisa Neale and I at this year’s #nxnei as we discuss:

Social Media in the Classroom – Teaching and Learning with Digital Technologies

Today’s students are digital learners in a world of ever-available connectivity.  Many step into their classrooms every morning with powerful mobile devices peeking out their back pockets.  No longer a lonely drudgery, homework turns social as students increasingly connect to learn and collaborate. And yet, schools have been slow to recognize the potential afforded by social media platforms. Are tweeting, texting and facebook the new dog-eared cahier and time-honoured textbook? What are the challenges faced by educators keen to bring classroom learning into the 21st century? This panel brings together a group of innovative educators to discuss the use of social media and online tools in schools. We discuss the push for change within traditional public school models. Specifically, we will examine how social media and online tools provide learning opportunities that nurture the skills students need – creativity, critical thinking and a global perspective.

Use the promo code NXNEirocks to get 10% off tickets here. I can’t wait to be a part of this event, and would love to see/meet you there.