Tracking trends is/can be a time consuming task. Management of that task is paramount to teasing out what are trends and what are fads…even though they might be the same thing in some cases. I also think that balance is key. From an educational perspective balance means looking at both topics and sources. In order to gain perspective we need to be looking internationally at what is happening as well as nationally and locally. We also need to look at post secondary, K-12, private and public. Perspective is important.
Google alerts has provided many of the specific sites, articles or blog entries that I have bookmarked, read and posted. This process provides a wide array of sources and supports the goal of balance. The items are also delivered in consumable blocks [8 each time for me] which makes the reading/viewing easier to manage. A subscription to both the Google Blog search results for education and trends also provides additional sources. Even though it does not specifically appear in the reading results i also subscribe to education alerts from the Huffington Post. Their education section provides specific items within educational reform, college, educational reform, for teachers and also bullying [hot topic] as well as a general item for education generally.
I thought I would list the main websites that I do keep track of. I have subscribed to all of these and outside of the Google Alerts I receive these are the Google Reader subscriptions I tend to focus on.
TED [not just those presentation that relate to education]
US Department of Education
Education News [general news for education..K-12, Post-Secondary, International
Education Week [general news for education..K-12, Post-Secondary, International
University World News [perspectives other than K-12]
Freakonomics [use the search for education specific blog items]
Globe and Mail [Education [no specific section but the search works, Technology]
Technorati [education search results]
I read/view the following blogs because of the educational prominence of the people that created them and for the links they provide. These links are sometimes reflected in the Google and other alerts I receive by email. Generally though they provide an entirely different “direction” for reading about education than the mainstream media, government or commercial websites. They are a link to some of the general “thinking” that is happening within the educational community and provides a lot of thought provoking questions. I look specifically for the links that are provided in posts that can be followed to gain insight into new ideas and directions and strengthen those being followed already. These are not the only blogs I read but they but the items presented in these blogs tend to surface elsewhere more often than others.
2¢ Worth [Warlick has been a fixture in the education blogging community for years]
Dangerously Irrelevant [all things education and focused on reform]
Edutopia Blogs [a wide range of educational topics offered]
Innovative Educator [can be very controversial but raises great questions for debate]
Emerging EdTech [provides specific information on emerging technologies]
WillRichardson [well connected to teaching practice]
Cool Cat Teacher [very well connected to teacher practice]
Mashable [the trending topics says a lot about what is current]
Diigo Postings to UMTrends11 Group [as well as individual participant blogs]
This a valuable component to the overall picture. What other participants are posting to the group tends to validate what I am doing and in other cases points me in directions I may not have gone. Common trends come to the surface quickly but what is interesting are those that are unique to individuals. It brings the “I didn’t see that” or “I would not have thought of that” aspect to the topic.
iGoogle [Reader Gadget, Bookmarks Gadget] > Google Reader > Google Alerts [other alerts] > Diigo > Diigo Groups
Being presented with a constant stream of information within a consistent environment makes it possible to manage. iGoogle is set as my homepage on all browsers and I use Firefox and Add This to manage adding items to Diigo, Reader and Bookmarks. The process separates what is read generally from what is posted to Diigo for group consumption. The process is also an evolution. Sources that were deemed as important early on lose their prominence over time and are replaced by those that emerge later. For many reasons I suspect this would be a continual part of the process.