As educators, we are finding the pressure to be part of many different social media products. “You should be on Twitter”. “Not on Google +? I’ll send you an invite.” Administrators look at the current mandates for Technology in the classroom and the vaguely defined 21st Century Skills and they start making teachers feel judged because they are not using a specific WebTool. This all builds into a frenzy of account creation in order to stake a claim on every Webtool the moment you see it in your twitter, rss, or Diigo feed. It is like a Zombie epidemic where once bit, we mindlessly seek to chomp on the collaborative consciousness of web tools! And like a Zombie we become consumers*.
It doesn’t have to be like this though. Like any survivor of a Zombie plague, you must prepare yourself. Make decisions and have a plan before engaging with the virtual world. It is essential that you determine your mission/objectives. Tim Smith (Technology_Tim) and I have spent a lot of time discussing our own personal missions for web tools like Twitter, as well as our professional missions in CMS Instructional Technology. Like most people, I believe we started out Zombies.
I spent much of my time aimlessly navigating Twitter feeds and reading Diigo posts and finding a lot of my time being sucked away with little virtual nourishment. Just like zombies with brains, once I started creating a profile on that site… I crave the next one. But I wasn’t really doing anything more than finding the next tool. There was no time spent learning how to use it effectively because someone suggested the next tool and I was off. With out defining my purpose for being online I was just joining sites and suggesting that other’s do the same.
No matter how you find yourself creating an account for a web tool, you need to begin with asking yourself, how will this tool help you fulfill your mission? If you see it can, then define how much of your efforts you are willing to focus on it. If it can’t, walk away from it! This site is laden with zombies and you have little chance of getting out of it alive. This is an important exercise. Without it, you wander aimlessly following the ambitions of others. Before you know it, you’re infected with a severe case of social media overload. Of corse you could just chose not to participate in the digital revolution and wait for someone to force you into a particular site. But then, is that the same a just letting yourself get bit by the zombie?
*Zombie brains are without value. Other zombies won’t eat a Zombie brain. In fact, the Zombie brain is what must be destroyed in order to stop the zombie invasion.