I’ve been thinking for a while about so-called “echo chambers.”
We tend to gravitate towards people with similar tastes and ideas to our own. This of course is only natural – if someone thinks the same way we think, we’re going to like them more. If we like them, why wouldn’t we want to hang out with them?
The problem that stems from this is that when the only thoughts you hear mirror your own, you sometimes begin to think that those are what everyone thinks – no matter how far from the truth that actually is. Suffice to say, if you spend your days hanging out in an echo chamber, hearing only voices similar to your own, you’ll end up with limited intellectual growth and possibly a misguided view of reality.
(I’m going to bite my tongue here and not make a political statement, but those who know me may certainly fill in the gap.)
For the past several years I have been doing my best to place myself outside the echo chamber that is the teacher’s lounge – both the one in my school and the virtual ones online. I still “talk shop” with teachers on many occasions, but the vast majority of my interactions now involve people outside of my chosen profession.
The blogs I read, the podcasts I heard, I read and listened to them from the viewpoint of an educator (and frequently asked myself how I could apply them to my classroom), but they weren’t focused on education.
There was good and bad in that. On one hand, I found a lot of cool new things that I and my students thought were interesting. ToneMatrix? BitBuilder Avatars? Light painting? None of these things came to me from other teachers. On the other hand, I am far from the only teacher finding and sharing cool things. By limiting my intake of information to non-educational sources, I ended up missing out on a lot of neat things that I would have otherwise been on top of. (For example, Gradecam.com hit me out of the blue. when my principal mentioned it to me. I’d never heard of it before. As a side note, my principal is pretty cool.)
This will not do. I’ve no intention of fully immersing myself in the education echo chamber for fear of missing outside ideas, but I at least want to keep one ear in there to know what’s going on.
Unfortunately … almost every teacher created podcast I used to listen to has faded away. I’m not shocked by this, particularly when I look at my own … er … infrequent updates.
So in typical Web 2.0 fashion, I made a Google Doc and posted some tweets.
— Aaron Smith (@theartguy) October 9, 2014
Less than 24 hours later, the spreadsheet sports 40 podcasts! (Though granted not all of them are by teachers. I’m thinking I’ll migrate them off to a separate list rather than deleting them outright, as there are some real gems in there, too.)
Now that’s probably more than the average person could listen to in a student-filled day, but there’s always room for more. Do you know of an excellent teacher created podcast that isn’t on the list? Add it! Yes, go ahead. Anyone who can see the spreadsheet has editing rights, so just plop it on down in there. Even if it’s your own creation, that’s fine.
The goal here is to create a teacher-curated list of teacher podcasts. The more of us who get involved, the better.