Friday, 15 June 2012

It's Like Riding A Bike

I've been thinking a lot about what I can do better next year when it comes to including more discussions, information and learning about digital citizenship in my classroom and school.  The hardest part seems to be finding out where to start when I'm not sure where everyone else is on their digital journey.

I know that elementary students where I teach generally have access to at least one piece of technology; whether it be their parents' phones, computers, tablets or their own personal mobile device.  I was trying to think of a connection to something that my students may have a similar experience with when the thought of using a bicycle came to mind.

I recently spent a day with my students and their bicycles at school.  I was quickly reminded of the challenge I was facing having students at many different levels of experience using their bicycles, helmets and locks.  Many of my students struggled with using their helmets and locks properly but were still able to do some pretty great tricks on their bikes and make their way around quite effectively.  This seems to be similar to their experiences with a variety of technological devices.

Personal Mobile Device
  • device
  • charger
  • carrying case
  • bicycle
  • helmet
  • lock
  • laws 
  • digital citizenship / media literacy
  • etiquette (online and in the presence of others)
  • laws
  • etiquette
  • privacy acts
  • digital footprint 
  • net smarts / media literacy
  • virtual boundaries
  • risky behaviours
  • rules of the road / laws 
  • geographical boundaries
  • risky behaviours 
  • practice / accessibility
  • willingness to test and try 
  • practice
  • willingness to test and try
Role of Parents
  • modeling with own devices
  • words of support and encouragement
  • instruction
  • modeling with own bicycle
  • words of support and encouragement
  • instruction
Role of Educators
  • modeling with own devices
  • provide opportunities to practice / use
  • instruction
  • provide opportunities to learn / use 
  • instruction
Role of Community
  • provide safe environment (maintain the infrastructure, provide accessibility, enforce laws)
  • provide a safe environment (maintain the roads, parks, bike racks, enforce laws)
  • independence / self-reliance
  • access to global community
  • self-expression
  • connect with others
  • independence / self-reliance
  • access to different parts of the community
  • self-expression
  • connect with other with a similar interest

Learning how to use technology appropriately is as much a part of a child's development as learning to ride a bike.  It is the responsibility of parents, educators and the community as a whole to see to it that every child has the tools they need in order to navigate safely. 

This will be my starting point next year.  Maybe this will help me bridge some of the gaps with the stakeholders at my school. 


  1. This is really special, Janelle. These kinds of analogies provide powerful ways for us to structure what we know about technology and learning. Indeed, bikes are hard technologies, non? To see how the features of different technologies compare is really useful -- may I say, quite connoisseurial!

    Thanks for sharing this comparison. I've got a feeling a lot of people are going to enjoy it as much as I did.

    1. Thanks Rick!

      I think that this might make it more concrete for those teachers who are hesitating because they afraid of the unknown and it seems like there's too much to cover in order to use technology regularly in the classroom.