There is no "echo chamber." It's a myth.Do you follow at least one person on Twitter? Then you're not in an echo chamber.
Do you have someone's blog other than your own in your RSS aggregator? Then you're not in an echo chamber.
Do you teach/work in a building with at least one other person that you talk to? Then you're not in an echo chamber.
Do you have a family? Friends? A neighborhood? Then you're not in an echo chamber.
Yes, if you look at the folks I follow on Twitter, or the blogs I read, or the friends I associate with - they probably share some characteristics in their views about education (just to narrow this down a bit). But echo chamber? No way.
- I learn from people that believe IWB's are a huge waste of time and money. And folks that think they are very useful.
- I learn from people that think PLN is a term that is essentially meaningless and does more harm than good. And folks that think PLN is a powerful organizing concept for how we can learn in a networked world.
- I learn from people that think if you can't measure it, it's not important. And from folks that think that if you can measure it, then it's not very important.
- I learn from people that think standards-based-grading is a powerful way to provide meaningful feedback to students. And from folks that think that "standards" and "grading" are the antithesis of what education should be about.
Not only do I think there is no echo chamber, I think there is also tremendous power in having discussions with people who do think in a similar (although not exact) way to you. Communities of similarly-minded people, passionate people, working in concert, can accomplish amazing things. We shouldn't denigrate that, we should celebrate it.
So, by all means continue to bring in diverse and opposing viewpoints into your PLN (or your not-PLN if you don't like the term). And continue to stretch yourself and your thinking by reading and tweeting and talking to new people. But please don't ever apologize for associating with other folks who passionately believe things similar to you, and please don't buy into the myth of the echo chamber. It doesn't exist.
Feel free to disagree in the comments.