Why aren’t teachers sharing more?


At the York Tweetup/Teachmeet I attended on the 22nd August, Alex Weatherall asked how we could work better together as a profession to share resources and ideas.  I’ve been asking this question since 2010 in one form or another.

My original answer to this was to upload the resources I used to my website. Initially I used a wiki to upload the resources but then I brought them within the main site using a WordPress plugin.  Many of my resources were uploaded to the TES site (where they have had over 600k downloads) but someone else did this for me (it was a huge job)

I’ve had to change the way that I share the resources on my site because the plugin I used wasn’t updated and posed a risk to the security of my site.  I put the resources in my OneDrive account and put links on my website but this is far from ideal as cloud storage is blocked in many schools (my own included).

I’ve since made hundreds of new resources that I’ve used to deliver Activate (ks3) and AQA Core GCSE but I haven’t shared these on my site.   Unfortunately the internet has become an increasingly litigious place and there is increasing competition for screen time and clicks.

My lack of time (it wasn’t always like this!) means that if I’m honest I’m not as careful about the source of my images as I used to be.  I used to meticulously hunt down creative commons or public domain imagery to use in my resources, now I check that they don’t belong to a stock imagery reseller and that’s about it.  The latest version of Office doesn’t help as you can insert creative commons images from Bing search but who goes to each site and checks the images are actually covered by a creative commons licence?  I also tend to ‘steal’ slides from different TES resources and use these within my own presentations – and it would be wrong to pass these off as my own.

I keep the working copy of my teaching resources within cloud storage and have been known to share folders when asked, however I just don’t have time to sift through all my resources to find out which are able to be shared.  I also lack a (free) technical platform on which to share them, one in which I retain control and I know won’t be closed down in the near future.

I know other publishers aren’t so careful.  Only this week I’ve downloaded resources from the TES with slides from Boardworks embedded in the presentation, or images that clearly display copyright information.

Schemes of work are tweaked to suit a department and resources end up being tweaked by conscientious teachers to suit their teaching style. Is there any value in sharing teaching ideas for individual topics and lessons instead?  I don’t have time to go to the IoP, RSC etc to find the best ideas when I might be planning for several year groups and topics each week.  If so what would a suitable platform look like?  Who would curate it and who would have access to upload materials?

We have come a long way, professionally and technologically, over the last few years but individual teachers (and departments) are still reinventing the wheel in schools all over country.  There has to be a better way of sharing what we do but even if there is many of us are lacking the time to put it into practice…




Published by Rob Butler

Ex-science teacher, ex-school leader and full-time geek.

2 replies on “Why aren’t teachers sharing more?”

  1. The amount of time I have downloaded something from the TES and it’s a bloody boardworks rip off is terrifying! Not just because of the copywrite issue, but because boardworks is terrible!

  2. Curriculum resource development is something that is done quite well by huge numbers of teachers but at a standard that is very functional but not quite right for widespread use. The trouble with this is that it leads to the TES resources problem of huge amounts of material that no-one really has any kind of handle on. There are some very good resources developed by AOs, Nuffield etc and high quality collection e.g. the National STEM Centre collection but it’s all a bit unsatisfactory. There is a moderate amount of evidence that quite detailed and prescriptive cohesive curriculum resources do improve teaching and learning and I tend to think that we ought to be moving in the direction of supporting several different sets of curriculum resources – these could be learned bodies like the IoP, education schools in universities, social enterprises, MATs, charities like Nuffield, AOs or whoever. If these were then properly evaluated and improved over time I think it would help improve educational outcomes and help to address teacher workload issues. Apart from working out how to finance this, the main requirement is a stable curriculum and exams, with cross-party support for a DfE commitment to stability. Without that, everything will always be horribly rushed like it often is at the moment. I wish this were higher on people’s agenda.

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