– a draft plan for the next 12 months

After a few discussions of the future of and forgetting financial viability etc. for the minute I figured that the best thing I could do at this point is to consider where I’d like it to go in the next 3, 6 and 12 months and that the best place to do that would be here.

So here it is, in the first instance for myself but equally so for comment and discussion.

Overall goals

My goals for over the next 12 months are for it:

-To be the best free blog provider for educational professionals available
-To facilitate the development of useful communities, networks and communication amongst education professionals

This will, I hope, have a positive effect on the lives and work of people who use it (both as bloggers and as readers) – and if that is 10% of what blogging has done for me then I’d be more than happy.

Three Months – Better & More Blogging

While I’m pretty darn happy with WordPress MultiUser I’d like, in the next two months, to make some serious improvements in the blogging system so that (while it’ll always be getting better) I can focus on other areas in the following months. Specifically I’d like:

Better blogging:

-Fix the image upload problems (and hopefully, alongside this, have good uploading of other file types as well)
-Fix up the existing WordPress themes so that they all work well with WPMU
-Develop and publish a clear system for people getting their own themes up via upload & me (if an aspect of editability comes into WPMU then that’d obviously surpass this)
-Figure out how I can incorporate remote blogging into it (mobile phones etc.)

More blogging:

-Get an ‘opt out’ newsletter going, encouraging existing edubloggers to spread the word
-Get a selection of buttons that people can display on their blogs if they want (and which will be on by default in new blogs)
-Maybe get ‘invites’ working if possible
-Get some press (suggestions here are welcome!)

Six Months – Bigger but Smaller

Once the blogging system, themes etc. are well set up and we’re getting lots of people signing up I’m really keen to explore how we could start assisting the development of niche communities and groups of educational professionals on I really really do believe that without someone listening, you’re not ever really blogging, and I want to assist users to both find and be found in the niches in which they work. To this end I want to try and accomplish at least some of the following:

-A simple yet more sophisticated networking system which will allow self-organisation and group creation which I can hook into the backend of each blog. Something like Elgg would obviously be great here but am a bit worried that the blogs element of that might confuse here… am really just looking for a ‘connections’ tool.
-A tag / global categories based aggregator: “what are users talking about today” kinda thing
-A straightforward river of news aggregator made up of latest posts and excerpts
-[I’m probably dreaming here but…] Some sort of opml / aggregating system where people can create and add their feeds to particular groups which then operate as separate multiple different aggregators and opml ‘packs’ which people can subscribe to through other aggregators
-A discussion tool which allows people to set up and participate in conversations outside of their blogs and meet other edubloggers

Twelve Months – Community, IncSub & Confidence

By the end of the year I’d like to see the tools which have worked well in the ‘bigger but smaller’ stage tried and tested and played with to ensure we’re getting the most out of / going down the right path with them. At this point I’d like to feel that the ‘core functionality’ is in place and that there’s a role for new technologies and effective uses of a group of educational professionals this big.

As a wish-list in terms of technology I’d love to see something like coming into play where people can share, develop and add to resources for particular communities alongside other apps which might really add value to a community like this (photos, for example, aren’t really at the top of my list here).

I’d also like to extend the original idea I had with IncSub to this space, to set up some systems which allowed edubloggers to create and use their own ad free CMS, wiki, social networking and blog applications (Hey, I’d like to give WPMU to edublogs users… edublogs for edubloggers if you will ;)… but this might be a bit of a technical pipe dream… perhaps.

Finally I’d like to do something which can help define, profile and give confidence to the community. I was thinking about an asynchronous / synchronous online conference that’s open to the world but presented at by members.

So, perhaps I’m dreaming with the last bit but hey, it helps to be ambitious. It’ll be interesting to see where we are / what’s happened a year from now.

Let me know what you think about it all. Suggestions / Criticism / General Comments are more than welcome!!!

15 replies on “ – a draft plan for the next 12 months”

  1. Hi – I have just started a blog for my College, and want to add tutors to take part in discussions, add blogs etc. Do they have to create their own blog site first (seems daft as they only want to blog on MY site)?

  2. Fraid so at the moment.. although you’re quite right that I shoudl try to get that working.

    On the other hand, it’s not exactly a pain… and they get their own blog as a bonus too!

  3. OK – I assume then I can add them by going through Users>Authers & Users & scroll down to the form at the bottom?

  4. Of course, you can always unplug the blogging module from Elgg and stick in WordPress. Might actually be an interesting case study, on top of everything else …

  5. That could be well worth exploring… given that I already have WPMU up and running here do you think there’s potential to get Elgg running as a supporting social network (without the bloging module?)

  6. Ambitious plan, but ambition is good. Similar to what Ben is recommending, I’m wondering if there are already existing sites and services out there that you can tap into, either by installing directly (such as Elgg) or leveraging via APIs. It might help make the community system more extensible.

    Keep up the great work, and keep on thinking big.

  7. Great vision, James. Judging by what you’ve accomplished so far in very little time, I’d predict that you’ll be ahead of schedule on the rest of your wishlist.

  8. I wanted to incorporate (by copy and Paste) a diary I’d already started.. but the site would not allow paste. Could that be facilitated, please? and DEFINITELY , a link to Log IN.. it took reading all the others to findout how!

  9. That’d be your browser, not the site… copy & paste works fine (I just tested it)… try firefox.

    Yep, get the link to login thing… it is in your email though so you could save it as a bookmark.

  10. (Edu Blog – Emmadw)

    Logging in
    Don’t forget you can also drag the “Bookmarklet” to the links bar, so that you can login via that. I’ve used that in the past with my own blog, and then just deleted all the info about the page I was on, if I wasn’t wanting to actually blog that page. The only drawback with that is that it’s not good if you want to do more than post (e.g. tweak things, edit other posts etc).

    I have to say that I’d assumed that the reason that people had to have an EduBlogs a/c was so that that owner of the blog had some control – if it was being used in an educational arena, then you’d have control over who could register.

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