My daughter and I recently took a vacation and visited an amusement park up in the mountains. At one point you can walk over a normal bridge or choose to take a swinging bridge over a creek. Ever the adventurous five-year-old, she opted for the swinging bridge.
The first time was nerve-wracking for both of us. Our legs and feet were unaccustomed to the uneven and moving surface and looking down was a definite no-no. Still after we finished, she wanted to go again. And again and again. On the sixth time across, she ran and fell, scraping her hands and feet enough to warrant a trip to the first aid station. We came back though and she went across again. And again and again. On the 24th time, she finally knew the bridge and was ready to move on to new adventures in the park.
Where are you on the social media bridge? Still carefully working your way across that first time, filled with uncertainty and fears? Running across that sixth time and stumbling? Or, are you confidently striding across that 24th time, full of experience and expertise?
I suspect most of us are somewhere between that first and last time across the bridge. We’re still learning Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. And, unlike our trusty, rusty bridge in the hills, social media isn’t a premade structure. Just as we run across, it changes again. We have to relearn old tools and get acquainted with the new ones.
Google Wave may soon be that new social media tool we’re all running across. Initially, it may look like a marriage between e-mail and wikis but look at the public waves (directories) and you’ll see opportunities for schools to create online, dynamic communities. Anyone can join the conversation, add rich media (YouTube videos, Google maps, more) and edit past comments.
It’s a free-for-all and it’s exciting and scary. Nothing is permanent and little is controllable. Imagine a classroom filled with parents with something to say, a video camera, a whiteboard, and a marker and eraser in every hand. Discussions are written or drawn on the board and erased and modified just as quickly. Latecomers can look at the videotape to see what was said when and how it got edited. That’s the power of the Google Wave.
How will we harness the Wave for teaching and learning and for marketing? Time will tell. If and when you join the Wave, be sure to look for ways to apply this to your school. Public waves such as the Educators Wave may be helpful.
And, as you walk across this new swinging bridge, don’t just look down. Look up and across and walk confidently and soon you too will be on the path of knowing where you are and where you’ve been.