I set up the Echo Chamber in May 2013. At the time I was noticing that most education blogs were noticeably progressive in their outlook, and that those that weren’t were often dismissed as being by new teachers who would one day learn to respect their elders. The plan was that it would:
- Raise the profile of teacher bloggers who opposed progressive education (thereby seeking to balance the wider debate in the blogosphere) by sharing all their posts.
- Promote and encourage new bloggers.
- Share the very best posts of the education blogosphere as a whole..
I’d originally planned to post 2-3 posts a day. It soon became clear that with the above plan it would be more like 10 posts a day. As the number of education bloggers rose, (originally I’d been following under 200 and now there are well over 2000) this task became more and more overwhelming. There were now dozens of anti-progressive bloggers on WordPress alone. I gave the best bloggers access to the Echo Chamber so they could reblog themselves. I recruited others to read and reblog posts for me but I was still spending far more time reading blogs than on reading books or writing my own blogs. This got even worse when I switched to working part-time at the start of 2014. Worse, the sheer number of posts now being reblogged (often 20-30 a day) meant that a lot of people who initially followed the Echo Chamber couldn’t keep up and so there was less of an audience despite more work being done.
As well as this there are other reasons for change. It has became very difficult to keep consistency in the choice of posts shared when so many different people are making the decisions. There are now other echo chambers that will share blogs automatically, often to a specialised audience, making it less necessary for the Echo Chamber to introduce new blogs, or share blogs that (while good) are aimed at a very specific audience (say, maths teachers or people in FE). However, automated Echo Chambers have also created a dilemma as to what to do about blogs with no working RSS feed, which cannot be easily followed or shared automatically.
So for the last few months I’ve been hoping to change what happens and I’m now ready to begin putting a new plan into place. If you are somebody who is currently helping me with the Echo Chamber, please don’t panic, I will get in touch by email before I ask you to stop doing anything you are doing.
Before I say anything about the plan, I should say I will make exceptions for brand new blogs that deserve an audience and blogposts I think are really important and need to be shared. I will also try to keep sharing posts that do round-ups of recent blogs (eg. like this or this).
Anyway, here’s the plan:
Step 1: To happen immediately.
From this point, I am going to stop doing the following:
- Manually reblogging posts from bloggers who are not in or from the UK. (Sorry). If you wish to keep up with my selection of great non-UK blogs, please follow The Echo Chamber International. I will also try to tweet (from @oldandrewuk) links to all the posts I would previously have shared on the Echo Chamber (which may actually increase the traffic they get, but should be easier for me).
- Manually reblogging so many posts from bloggers who write almost exclusively about their own subject area. (Sorry.) This is a tough call to make, some of my favourite blogs are in this category, and I’m sure it will be tricky to draw the line sometimes, but this is not the best way to get them to their intended audience. The subject Echo Chambers have been set up to share blogs between teachers of the same subject. If your subject does not have a mini-echo chamber, please volunteer to help set one up.
- Manually reblogging posts without an RSS feed to Echo Chamber Uncut. This is taking too long and there really is no excuse for blogs not having an RSS feed. I will experiment with just doing a round up of posts without an RSS feed every week or so.
Step 2: To Happen Next Week (which should be half-term for a lot of people)
I will attempt to update my “master list” of blogs and the bloggers spreadsheet, and then seek to determine which blogs should always be shared on the Echo Chamber or not. I will attempt to make greater use of automation to share blogs. Also, I will be reviewing who does what on the monitoring front, so as to reduce the amount of manual reblogging anyone else has to do, the idea that people will be reading blogs that don’t need reblogging very often and, therefore, when they do need reblogging they can be sent to me to do. But please, please don’t stop what you are doing until the end of the week.
Step 3: To happen at the end of next week (which should be the end of half-term for a lot of people)
The new allocation of blogs will go into place, and hopefully, the amount of posts on The Echo Chamber will be a lot lower and a lot more focused on issues that affect more people, and on making sure teachers who oppose progressive education are heard.
That’s the plan. Please feel free to feedback. It’s all open to debate. Thanks.