Top edublogs – August 2007

[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]

Back in January, when I had been blogging for five months but was still a blogosphere fledgling, I am embarrassed to say that I made a post that purported to present the top 30 edublogs as measured by Technorati rankings. The more time that passed since that post, the more chagrined I became at how laughably naive I was (I only analyzed 66 blogs!). So I decided to try again…

Step 1: Define the size of the education blogosphere

This in itself is a challenging and important task. No one knows exactly how big the education blogosphere is because it’s both dispersed and hidden. Here’s how my two phenomenal research assistants, Jenni Christenson and Eric LeJeune, and I tackled the issue:

Then we had the joy of finding and eliminating duplicates. Ugh.

Technorati lists 14,854 blogs with a tag of ‘education.’ It lists 23,807 blogs with a tag of ‘school.’ James informed me that Edublogs alone is hosting over 50,000 educator blogs, most of which are private and classroom-oriented. As you’ll see, we didn’t get anywhere near that many URLs.

How many edublogs are there? Over 50,000. How many are in this analysis? Over 3,600.

Step 2: Rank the blogs we found.

This was easier. Jenni and Eric copied each blog URL into the search box at Technorati.com and then entered into our spreadsheet the blog’s Authority (i.e., how many blogs have linked to it over the last 6 months) and Rank (i.e., overall rank among the tens of millions of blogs that Technorati monitors; lower is better). For example, at the time we checked, Patrick Higgins’ blog, Chalkdust, had an authority of 40 and a rank of 153,160. Many blogs had an authority of 0 or had nothing listed at all for either factor.

Step 3: Sort and present the results.

After doing a lot of cleanup (eliminating more duplicates!), we sorted by rank and authority. Here are some example results (click on the images to see the full-size charts)…

Top_30_Edublogs_2007-07-27New

As you can see, Inside Higher Ed is the most popular edublog on our list according to Technorati’s Rank feature. Rounding out the top 30 is Infinite Thinking Machine.

Top_204_Edublogs_2007-07-27New

If you look at the Authority of the top 204 edublogs, you’ll see the classic long tail distribution. The top blog, Inside Higher Ed, had nearly 2,400 other blogs link to it over the past six months. In contrast, the blogs near the end of this graph only had 45 blogs link to them. About two-thirds (2,542) of the blogs on our list had 0 blogs link to them in the last half year. Only 264 averaged more than 5 external links per month.

Caveats and disclaimers

  1. Exactly what constitutes an ‘education blog’ is a matter of interpretation. Jenni and Eric looked for blogs by teachers, principals, superintendents, school librarians / media specialists, technology coordinators, education professors, education critics / commentators, and the like. They had to make some tough choices but tried to include anyone that blogged regularly and often about education. If you think they included a blog that shouldn’t be on the list, get in touch.
  2. As hard as we tried, I’m sure we still missed a bunch of folks. If you’d like to be included in our next analysis (hopefully January 31, 2008), please complete the online form.
  3. There are many reasons why educators blog and Technorati numbers are just two of many metrics of success. If you’re happy blogging, by all means keep it up! If you’d like more traffic, this list of tips is a good place to start.
  4. Technorati numbers were compiled over a 2–week period in late July. All blog rankings and authority numbers are approximate and already out of date.

Next steps

If you want to play with the data yourself, download the Excel file. Please link back to this post or send me your findings so I can see what you come up with!

I’d like to do this twice a year, so the next time should be in January 2008. As the list grows bigger, it gets more unwieldy and time-consuming. If you’d like to lend a hand, get in touch. If you have any suggestions for how to expand this analysis or do it differently, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

8/1 Correction: The data for Education Week, The Fischbowl, and eSchoolNews were erroneously omitted. The two graphs above, as well as the downloadable Excel file, have been updated to reflect the data for these two sites.

24 Responses to “Top edublogs – August 2007”

  1. I forgot to say that there are lots of great blogs on this list. I hope you take the time to check some out and discover some new voices!

  2. Tons of work at the onset with locating and tagging these beasts in the wild. Wow. I’m left wondering, though, if punching the URLs into Technorati’s search bar doesn’t outsource too much of the mental labor. I wonder if, given your druthers, you wish you could’ve considered other factors besides Technorati’s external links or if you’re pretty content there. (I mean, have you even considered blogger height … ?)

    P.S. Can you tell Jenni and Eric to do your laundry and stuff too? Man … gotta get me some research assistants.

  3. It would be great to get access to other statistics: home page visits, subscribers, etc. However, these typically are harder to get if you’re not the blog owner.

    As I said, Jenni and Eric were phenomenal. I was very lucky to have them on board for this project!

  4. Scott wow! I had not understood the ranking or authority information in Technorati very clearly before now. Now I feel ever so humble. At times I think I blog in vain, but oh well, c’est la vie.

  5. Scott:

    This is really interesting work and I think a great way for those of us who blog to challenge our readers to see if we can change our rankings on your scale!

    We were disappointed to see the post has changed–an earlier version cited our blog in the discussion (Free Exchange on Campus) which we thought was going to help our rankings right off the bat!

    Craig
    http://www.freeexchangeoncampus.org

  6. Sorry, Craig, for the slight rankings change. Glad you posted a comment. You have a great blog!

  7. Scott — As always, you manage to put an extra log of intrigue into the conversational fire. For a guy who ‘just started blogging’, you get high marks for realizing the value of comparative statistics/data and ego-rub/push…oh, and incorporating the Long Tail. Oy, vey. Brilliant! Would be interesting to send your graph to Mr. Wired Magazine to see what he thinks. Intriguing validation. Finally, if you weren’t already a dedicated academic and researcher, I’d put you into the high ranks of marketing pros who ‘get’ the value of ‘story’ and ‘brand’ as you re-shape stats/#’s/research. Love the Long Tail graph in particular. Keep it up!

    Thrilled to see Ewan McIntosh’s blog made it into the list this time around (one ‘sad’ omission back in Jan, I think). Also most impressed that Karl Fisch has jumped to the #2 spot; his videos have literally given viral meaning in the education world (but I’m not surprised!).

    I wish the following 3 had also received the Technorati robot nod…for obvious reasons (and some I’ll list below):

    2) DY/Dan — ‘young’ Dan Meyer’s blog is already coming in the 37,916th spot, demonstrating that in a relative blink of an eye this ‘upstart’ math teacher with an eye for design and kicking the School 2.0 voices in the shins proves day in and day out that whether you like/dislike his specific points, he deserves respect and notice. Add him to the list!
    3) G-town Talks — Authored by a just newly named Assistant Supt. (after being a uber-talented principal until recently) Kim Moritz, this is a blog that not only is a good read, but manages to over-and-over again prove the value of transparency in blogging. Hey, even her district’s supt. began to consider blogging because of her. Enough to put her in the top-10 of ‘who really matters’ (outside the Technorati ratings).
    4) Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog — Hey, it has a current rating of 22,073 and deserves on the basis of etiquette alone to take my spot. He’s as good as they come in many respects, managing to bridge many divides with a wry sense of integrity, passion, and humor in tow.

    Most importantly, I’m really intrigued what it says that well-established education journals/magazines/sites are having to compete with individual bloggers (and also play catch-up in some cases). Says a lot about the scale of investment and passion, doesn’t it?!

    Personally, I think its just shy of a moral crime that my blog (“think:Lab”) continues to rank in the sub-20,000 category overall. Aren’t there a few kittens-love-knitting blogs out there that deserve more attention than my skewed rantings? Too many others that deserve much more attention, in my opinion. Clearly the Technorati robots need a good shake up in the analytics dept and kick my little errant row boat to the shore.

    Kudos to you on both research and marketing/branding terms. You do great work and brilliantly stoke the fires, my friend! Looking forward to a proper sit-down, cup of coffee, and F2F conversation with you one day soon. Also, congratulations to your assistants. Obviously a great team to be working with.

    Cheers,
    Christian

    P.S. I think Dan Meyer’s comment about blogger height (or other attributes) is a worthy side study. Give it a thought (he smiles).

  8. Christian, thanks for the nice comment. Actually Karl comes in around #8, not #2. I transposed his Rank and Authority in my rush this morning. Nothing like making a mistake while fixing a mistake! The Excel file is correct; the graph above has now been changed.

  9. Scott–looking through the Excel a bit there seem to be a good number of “big” higher ed blogs missing. Wondered if you looked at this wiki in building your universe?

    http://wiki.henryfarrell.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

    If not, it is a great resource compliments of Henry at Crooked Timber.

  10. Here’s to climbing that list!:-)

    Truly, the digging that went into this is impressive. I like to think of those of us in that Long Tail as the niche market that has it’s audience.

    We are your indie films and Eddie from Ohio-like obscure, but great bands.

    Let the 2-cents and Fischbowls and Inside Higher Eds be the Hollywood blockbusters and U2′s of the edblog world. I’ll take niche…I like niche.

    Great post, Scott, very cool.

  11. How many times do I have to ask you to flip that graph vertically??? Shouldn’t the “top” edublogs be “on top”??? (-:

    How do we find a doc. student or two, or three, or four…to take this study to the next level?

  12. I’m not sure about blogger height being a factor but maybe you could look at a blogger’s direct influence on education via number of blogger’s children in public education. (chuckle – he has 6) Of course we’d all like to see our ranking move up and this gives us something to reflect upon and work towards. Thanks for your great work and dedication to education and educators.

  13. Re: your request for feedback:

    I’d be curious to see the list go more granular (or columns allowing re-ordering of the spreadsheet), categorized by:

    Country (interesting to see the ratio of US/North American to international blogs)

    Classroom teachers, Tech Coordinators, Administrators, Librarians, etc.

    Age of blog (comparing the excellent but 7-month-old Patrick Higgins, for example, with the old-timers does Chalkdust less honor than it deserves!).

    World enough and time, I know :)

  14. Re: the wishlist directly above that I posted a few minutes ago, an afterthought on more categories:

    Public or private school.
    International or national school.

    Finally – and I’ve been banging this drum since January – when are we going to actually do something to invite and grow the presence of the silent majority in these educational conversations?

    I mean our students, of course.

    They can handle it, it we give it to them. And we can learn.

    It’s the most glaring absence in the edublogosphere, and will continue to be until those with influence will help lead on this (and I’m only 165 on your list, so I don’t have nearly enough).

    We need some leader talk about creating learner talk. And then some leader action. Until then, the edublogosphere is lamentably teacher/educator-centered.

    I’m willing to follow any leader who will take the lead on your list. I’ve already blogged many ideas that are simple and practical.

    Lots of us are ready to create this next shift. We just need leadership from those with the volume.

    Thanks again :)

  15. I think having students blog is a great idea. I’m going to have my students discuss the whole communication production as we work through the class. It will be a way to introduce them to the voices beyond the walls and, hopefully, get them more involved in what it is we are doing. We’ll see where that takes us. I am considering giving them a few bloggers to read and comment about on their blogs. Kind of a way to introduce them to the greater world around them.

  16. Great job Scott!

    Forgive me for this, but you’ve been tagged: http://www.ed421.com/?p=329
    :)
    Stephanie

  17. Scott, I’ve been a reader on your site for some time. The incisiveness of thought reflected in your writing brings me back here.

    Congratulations to you and your team on getting this survey out.

    It was both humbling and surprising to see my blog at #407 just 3 weeks into my blogging efforts. Then I saw the long tail you mention.

    Only 900 blogs have a technorati “authority” or 1 and above, and only 500 odd cross a Technorati ranking of 10 and above.

    To me, thats a whole lot of voices, just sitting unnoticed.

    For anyone whos been blogging for even a few days, its obvious, that the network effects of blogging are stupendous.

    I wonder, then, what can be done to bring some of these blogs readership? Apart from the efforts they put into “publicizing” their blogs, maybe its worthwhile for some of the leading EduBloggers to evangelise their effort.

    I am contemplating starting, a la the Carnival, a small exercise on my blog where
    some of us check out blogs ranked between sub 500 (to around 1000) and put up posts that we find interesting. That should drive traffic to those blogs!

    The only caveat I see is evidence of blogging activity: any blog that qualifies for linking should have had at least one post in the last 10 days and at least five in the last two months. Wouldn’t want to be spending time linking blogs abandoned by their writers, would we?

    What do you think? I’d be grateful if coments from you or other readers could be sent to me at theredpencil [at] gmail.com or at my blog.

    Vivek

    (sorry for the double posting: I left a comment on your Jan post too, in error)

  18. Vivek, some of us have been trying to highlight new voices. Click on my Top Posts button to see my series. Miguel Guhlin, Kelly Christopherson, and others also have done the same. I like your concept. Let me think about it for a while…

  19. Kelly, I visited your blog. If you want to connect some students and form the core of what will hopefully become “learner talk” to add to our chorus, please, please, please contact me.

    It’s only going to move forward when we push it. :)

    And I think the key is persuading only the willing parents of the natural student bloggers to help us promote this. Talk about a “digital portfolio” – how many college applicants will be able to point to a “high-ranking learnerblog” on Scott’s list? (Hopefully higher than the highest ranking adult edublogs!)

  20. Keep me posted. I’m happy to buy the domain, host the blog, and set up the author accounts if you wish, Clay. I just can’t round up the students…

    Who would be the audience?

  21. Clay, I’d love to be a part of this effort. I can bring some representation from India!

  22. Scott, that’s an awesome gesture. I think you’ll be getting some takers very soon!

    Who would be the audience? Us – the teachers and administrators who need to hear their students in these discussions about their students’ educations.

    Good leadership on this, Scott – thanks :)

    And Vivek, I left a comment on your blog.

    And Kelly, thanks for the email. Talk soon.

  23. Scott, this is fantastic. I’m trying to do a similar thing, but in a much more clunky way – using collected OPML files.

    Hopefully the limited data set that I am getting will match up with your massive set and I’ll be able to do some further analysis of the hubs.

    Thanks.

  24. It is fascinating to read this list but also important to remember the impact that we truly have on one another cannot be measured as we share and discuss best practices. It is very easy to get hung up on being “popular” and forget being “meaningful.”

    Students blogging is great, however, there are a whole wealth of privacy issues depending on the age. Several of my students blog, but often don’t have the “time” for a blog like may define one, however, many “blog” daily on facebook or myspace in their own way.

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