New Year's Resolutions? How About Using That Twitter or Facebook Account to Connect?

"In a linked world and a relationship economy, isolation costs too much," writes Jeff Jarvis in his book Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live. Jarvis's argument is clear: In today's digital world, the cost of not being connected is too great. We live in what he also refers to as a "relationship economy" where value is derived from the quality of our relationships, and these relationships come from our sharing of ourselves with others on the web. He was speaking mostly of businesses, but I would argue that what he says also applies in general to education, and to educators specifically. We, as 21st century educators, also participate in a "sharing economy" where our value is based on the quality of relationships we make through "Web Presence" established through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, and other content sharing outlets.

The problem is, too many school administrators and teachers still remain on the sidelines. They haven't engaged in the "relationship economy with other educators" so, even though they might have a Twitter account, it sits idle most of the time. Some may even view their timeline on occasion, but they miss one important piece of fostering digital relationships or connections: they do not interact and exchange through sharing. Without participation, no relationships are created, online or offline. As Jarvis so aptly points out,

"It's the same in the digital world as the real one: If you stay in your room all day, you'll never meet anyone and never know whom you've missed. It's Tinker Bell in reverse: Each time you don't share, a relationship loses its wings."

Being a digital leader is much more than boasting that you have a Twitter account or school Facebook page. If these are not used to share, relationships can't possibly be formed. To form solid 21st century relationships with other educators, you must share. This means you must give up the fear of being "public." To become a connected educator you must make a step outward and connect by sharing knowledge, ideas, tips, resources, or whatever you can to contribute to the global education conversation.

As Jarvis points out, we can't really be wallflowers or lurkers and engage the relationship economy of a linked world. To foster relationships, we have to "come out of our rooms" and engage others through the media. "To make connections we must be public and share." Moving to use the media to become public and share in order to form new relationships is a powerful New Year's Resolution!

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J. Robinson has decades of experience as a K12 Principal, Teacher, and Technology Advocate. Read more at The 21st Century Principal.