Connected with Bieber Fever


In August 2012, I took the above picture at a Justin Bieber concert (don’t judge, it was for research) in Sydney, Australia.  I am now sitting at a session in Toronto, Canada, with Bruce Dixon (from Melbourne, Australia) whom I have never met until only recently.  What kind of blew my mind was that he used this picture (legally as it is Creative Commons licensed) in a presentation not knowing that I was the one who had taken the picture in the first place; I had to tell him this after.  The world is so much smaller now and I think we are better off for that fact.

He did have some questions about the picture above:

Who taught these kids to take a picture with this device?

Who taught these kids to create a video with this device?

Who taught these kids to create any type of media with this phone and then share it through a social network with anyone they want to in the world?

If these kids can do all of these things with this phone and have the ability to learn all of these things on their own, why are they often banned from schools?

Here is my question…What could we be doing with that knowledge to further the opportunities for learning in our schools?  Sharing a video from a Bieber concert is not transformative learning but is there not something there that we can build upon?

Then I connect this learning and this picture to this Danah Boyd quote:

Inside big companies, we take organizational boundaries for granted. Traditional organizational logic suggests that most employees of big corporations should primarily only talk to other people at their organization to do their work and should only engage with “competitors” when a deal is being brokered or there is a particular need for cross-sector collaboration. In this frame, companies are quite protective of their intellectual property and company secrets and see any knowledge sharing between “competitors” as a weakening of their core assets.

To a teenager growing up in a networked world, this model makes absolutely zero sense. Even if they’ve been trained in a traditional educational environment where collaboration is pooh-poohed, if they have access to the internet, they’ve developed a sensibility for obtaining knowledge from a wide variety of sources. More importantly, many youth in creative class environments are growing up with the idea that knowledge is something that you tap into, not something you innately have. Knowing where to turn to get relevant information is often as valued as knowing the answer.

And then this quote from the same article:

Building lifelong learners means instilling curiosity, but it also means helping people recognize how important it is that they continuously surround themselves by people that they can learn from. And what this means is that people need to learn how to connect to new people on a regular basis.

What do you think?  Is there not a not a disconnect between this picture, the way that our kids are growing up, and the world that we are used to (not necessarily live in) now?





  1. I work as a parent liaison, I’m trying to get people to think, that listening to people’s stories is an interesting and free knowledge. when we approach others, we are connecting with ourselves in a deeper level. we may discover how we really think about life through the different emotions that we experiencing while learning about others.

  2. It seems a vital step in the process is to help teachers see the benefits of making their own connections through virtual networks. I think without this step, the idea is so abstract that teachers have a hard time seeing the value. Helping teachers find a way out of isolation is a necessary step in the process.

  3. Our school system (in Melbourne, Australia) has created teachers who are too exhausted and curriculum-focused/content-focused to even care about connecting outside the school. The desire isn’t there, it’s extra work, they don’t see a need. Of course, this isn’t everybody but I think it’s most people. Just my observation.

  4. I wish I could have viewed the picture, but as our school district has blocked almost every site that offers anything visual it was not available. There is a definite disconnect between what are students are capable of doing and what we are allowing them to do with that knowledge.

  5. Excellent article. What are the possibilities of technological collaboration by students in the classroom?
    Some high school students are creating mobile apps which correlate directly to the subjects they are studying.

    One fun example was a biographical study mapping specific locations of the biographical historically significant incidents occurring during a studied life.
    For instance, a famous Artist or Architect’s studies in Tuscany with specifics relating to that Genius’ works alongside corresponding locations.

    I wish school would have been so technologically savvy years ago! Wonderful to get to see things moving creatively forward!

    It is thanks to progressive innovators like you who boldly seek challenges, ask the best questions, and share educational technology successes with others

  6. Once again George, your question is timely and appropriate. Fear of the unknown, restrictive environments, and misguided pressures are keeping many educators from becoming inspired, connected learners. Once educators experience the learning revelation fostered by self-regulation and social connection, (The Born-again Learner) they will be able to guide and join students in more meaningful, long-lasting learning experiences. School leaders need to get to the front of this line, and remove the constraints that keep others from following.

  7. I love this picture, and I remember when you were taking knowing exactly how you were going to use it. I think the fact it came up in a stranger’s presentation only cements the fact that media is SO fluid in this moment in time. That kind of blows me away actually.

    It made me think about how cool experiences, such as the Beiber concert…(which, can I clarify you LOVED) are no longer exclusively for the few, but perhaps how the role of the crowd has changed from the ‘special’ few, experiencing it as one person, to agents of social media; the ground crew per se for the rest of the world.

    I know these videos/photos were uploaded instantly, we were doing the same with friends in America following in real time.

    There are massive implications, both terrifying and exciting for teachers in this.

    A post that has long had me thinking since the very time we shared this moment with The Beibs….

    …for research, of course. 😉

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