The internet is an amazing place, and as teachers start to get into the concept of sharing, the number of resources available online are staggering and growing by the minute.
Add to that the ease with which we can share these resources and the world is your oyster….or not.
A number of teachers have told me recently that they find the idea of getting ideas and resources online a daunting task because there is so much available and you spend hours separating the good, from the mediocre and the bad.
I belong to a few teacher groups and pages on Facebook and follow lots of teachers on Twitter. On all of these platforms, resources are shared freely and often. Over the last few months, I have started to distinguish between the curators and the distributors.
Don’t share everything you see.
It is so easy to share links on Facebook and Twitter that at first, I found myself sharing things indiscriminately. If you share everything you see, anything that looks like it might be vaguely interesting, have a good title or a cool picture, you are a distributor. Recently somebody questioned a fellow teacher about a resource she reshared that was using a mathematically incorrect method. Her answer was, “I just share them, the teachers must decide for themselves whether it is any good.”
Now, you might be wondering why being a distributor is a problem. Well, it is not a problem per se. It puts you on the same footing as Google. Google share everything that is available. If your timeline is just a list of random things you shared, some good and some not so good, then I might as well just search the topic on Google. Because I will get more hits, no matter how often you post or tweet, you will never match Google.
Therefore distributors get culled from my timeline very quickly.
The people I follow and appreciate are the curators. They are the ones who only share an article if they have read it and it is any good. The ones that only share a resource when they are impressed by it.
An example of a great curator is Jo Morgan (@mathsjem). She runs a blog for maths teachers, Resourceaholic. Every week she posts five resources. She could easily post 10 or 20 or even more resources, but instead, she posts five great resources. I am a maths teacher myself, and while there are hundreds of websites from where I can get ideas, I always start at resourceaholic because I know it is good activities, they have tried and tested.
How about when you share links with learners?
The same principle applies when we share links with learners. Online platforms like Google Classroom, Moodle or just a class Twitter account have made it possible to share links to videos and articles at the press of a button. I love it. For example, I can share articles about exciting developments in maths and science or features about mathematicians with my learners. Or how to videos. But again, everything I share with them they can get online themselves, the reason why they don’t is that there is so much available that they never get to the good stuff. If I overload them with links to things that waste their time, they will stop reading what I send them. The worst is when teachers provide learners with a list of suggested websites and when you check them, it is the first five results of a Google search. We should be helping learners navigate the internet by pointing them to good resources, not just reposting everything we see.