Learn to Learn By Studying Zombie Behavior

Learn to Learn By Studying Zombie Behavior

As an OpenSesame summer intern, I’m surrounded by the ceaseless serious discussions of adults. I fear that I’m not being respected, due to my younger age and often times less than serious demeanor, so I’m working hard to write an extremely serious, extremely adult blog post. And to that end, I’m going to talk about zombies.

Long story short, zombies are real. I firmly believe that a supervirus created deep within the earth by a secret government program will bring the dead to life. And before you know it, 99% of mankind will be corpses lusting for a mouthful of medulla oblongata. Regardless of how it happens, I’m invariably going to wake up one day and find reanimated remains lingering hungrily at my door, and I know I need to be prepared to learn quickly in difficult circumstances during the zombie apocalypse. <--break->

So the Zombies Might Not Be That Smart...

Maybe zombies can’t open doors, but using tools isn’t the only indication of intelligence. Like whales and ants, the success of zombies comes from their powerful social constructs. Zombies are most effective when they move in large groups, not only because 100 zombies is scarier than 1 zombie, but because there appears to be more intelligence. Allow me to proclaim a new type of social studying, zlearning. How can we capture the lessons of zlearning for workplace and development? I have ideas.

But They Work Together

In every zombie movie, there seems to be some sort of hive-mind at work, where the intelligence of a single zombie combines with that of all the other zombies and suddenly coherent thought, planning and execution begins. Zombies aren’t selfish. They work together to accomplish goals like tearing down buildings and surrounding innocent bystanders. When creating social learning environments in your organization, take a lesson from the zombies:

We could all learn a few things from our brain-craving friends. Collaboration breeds incredible results. Think about any learning scenario, whether online or in a classroom: You are working with someone or some software. The expression “standing on the shoulders of giants” refers to using previous understanding to accrue more knowledge; but I don’t think this is the best analogy for social learning. It is more like people are building a cheerleader style pyramid, using the collective strength to see from higher up, and in turn using the information from the highest observer. Sharing ideas, constructive criticism and trying to teach teammates are all zombie-approved learning methods.

Would Zombies Use Social Media?

Our digital age accelerates the pace of social learning through access to an ever-growing compendium of knowledge, the Internet. A learner can instantly find information for himself at any time by checking Wikipedia, asking a peer, visiting Quora, finding anelearning course or even Skyping an expert. While our goals might not be the same as those of zombies, the methods are nearly identical. Rather than moaning to contact all nearby zombies to help on a kill (as a zombie would), we can open up a Google Doc and share it with as many collaborators as we like.

While they shuffle and stumble around like brainless fools, zombies could teach us a thing or two. Learning with a community yields not only an understanding of material, but a unique route to achieve the knowledge. So fire up Google Chrome, Facebook Chat a friend and learn how to eat brains. Wait. Not brains. I mean learn to speak Mandarin, how to manage a database or repair the office refrigerator.

Image credit: Wahkee930