Thoughts on Sharing Lessons

4 min read

I'm writing these ideas out quickly -- there are sure to be holes in this, and gaps in this reasoning -- please point them out in the comments.

For some context on this post, see these two threads on Dan Meyer's blog.

Users working with online lessons will generally fall into at least one of the following categories:

  1. People searching for lesson ideas (probably the majority)
  2. People already creating content on their own blogs (a growing number of folks, but still a very small percentage, compared to people in category 1, or even teacher-bloggers)
  3. People looking for a place to create content (people who want to create blogs, etc -- I have no idea how many people fall into this category, but I'd imagine that if people, particularly younger teachers, saw the benefit they would have some amazing things to contribute)
  4. People who will find lessons on another site, edit/revise those lessons for use in their class, and republish the updated content on their own site
  5. People who will edit/revise content on someone else's site (ie, wiki-style) -- the majority of these people would probably be very committed to the ideals of Open Educational Resources (OERs), have part of their professional responsibilities include curriculum development, or have some other type of immediate personal connection to a learning community. These people would probably be the ones to make the greatest use of any social networking features within the site

Produce --> Share --> Reuse --> Remix -- where does influence fit in? The influence of shared lessons, and the role that influence can have in helping a teacher develop and revise their existing materials, should not be overlooked.

Most working teachers do not have the time to collaborate online with other teachers to create freely available resources. Most of the teachers I talk to barely have time to engage in that type of collaboration within their own schools, let alone within an online/social networking context. Most teachers, even the ones currently blogging their lessons, do not have the free time to join another site and learn another system, even if there are long-term benefits. Teacher time needs to be respected, which is why any system that mandates a teacher use a new tool to participate will lose a good number of potential contributors due to that barrier to entry.

Here is what I propose -- and what I have partially built, here:

  1. A site that aggregates lessons already being published online. This way, any teacher currently blogging lessons doesn't need to change a single thing about how they work. If they want to make it easier, they can choose to tag any lessons with a unique keyword, like "lesson" -- this would allow us (in most cases, anyways) to aggregate posts in that specific keyword.
  2. All imported lessons are full-text searchable, and, when possible, tagged with keywords that describe the lessons
  3. Organize the lessons by content area
  4. Possibly, add in rating mechanisms to allow site members to rate content
  5. All posts imported into the site can be printed via a print-friendly page, and exported via rss.
  6. As a further development, possibly create a mechanism where site users could clone and revise imported content, or create new lessons to be published within the site. This lesson development would leverage content already created and imported into the site, or could be used by interested people to develop learning resources from scratch. For this type of curricular planning, we could incorporate wiki-type functionality.
  7. As noted by David Rothstein here, we could incorporate a "request a lesson" feature

What is missing? Please add any necessary details/suggestions in the comments.

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