FROM: Mark Beaumont
What NEED does this meet?
Teachers are constantly writing material for their classes. From tests to mock exams, demonstrations, even handouts consisting of several pages, they are a valuable part of the learning process.
I taught A-Levels for 5 years and during that time it occurred to me that much of the work that I was doing must be being repeated by thousands of other teachers all across the country. This is ludicrous. I propose a system whereby teachers can catalogue and then swap their handouts with colleagues from other schools reducing the duplication of work that takes place right across the country.
What is the APPROACH?
Many teachers become authors and write books in their subject. However, where a teacher does not have sufficient material for a complete book, their is no easy way to publish. I am certain that a Website enabling teachers to publish small documents that they have written themselves would be massively popular.
The general premise will be similar to the peer-to-peer model employed by services such as Napster. There will be a download to upload ratio so that teachers have to offer material before they can pull documents from other teachers. And finally, there will be a subscription fee that centres will be asked to pay.
What are the BENEFITS to people?
I had this idea when I was writing a Computing mock A-Level exam. It occurred to me that around 1000 centres offer Computing A-Level and each of their teachers must be writing an exam similar to mine. This seems like a massive duplication of workload. Surely if the advent of the Web has taught us anything, it is that information can be shared very easily. The current system of hundreds of teachers all writing and preparing similar material should have become outdated years ago. I am seeking to put this right.
What is the COMPETITION?
None and believe me I have looked. The nearest competition is from teachers' guides that accompany course text books, but this is not really the same thing.
What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The project needs three things to be successful. 1) Management. Me. I have a PhD in Computing and am capable of designing and planning the system at a conceptual level. I am also a freelance writer and can use my jounalistic skills to generate publicity. 2) A Website that allows sellers to logically "meet" buyers. This will be quite complex as Websites go and although I am a developer, I do not have the required skills myself. I will need to buy outside help. Such sites are standard and can be bought off the shelf. Ball park figures for such a site £7k. 3) Publicity. the success of such a scheme will depend on a critical mass of users. I will need a budget as large as possible to promote, by direct marketing, my site to teachers. Est: Up to £5k
There are already consortia of teachers who sell mock prelim papers - I know someone in such a consortium (who teaches Computing Higher and Standard Grade in Scotland.) I am not sure if these operate in Scotland only (but surely not?)
Not saying this invalidates the idea, just it needs checked out.
I can pass on the email of my pal if you want.
Second, the idea could very well scale to higher (tertiary) education. But a caveat: there are institutional and legal obstacles in the way. Current scenario: There is already considerable digitisation and public display on the Web of uni level handouts. Academics are natural sharers and show offs anyway, and many of us started courses by drawing on the web- available syllabi and reading materials of our colleagues - and now feel we should return the favour. Plus it's a chance to show off your novel teaching and research ideas and attract postgrads. (Mine own handouts are visible at http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/courses/viewhandouts.asp?ref=4, for example.) So far so good.
However: universities in the UK are doing their best to get in the way of this ideal universe.(a) they are trying to assert IPR rights over these handouts and materials as having been created during contract working hours. (I think this is disputable but it has some core sense. I teach law, by the way.) (b) They want to keep the competitive advantage of their courses vis a vis other unis, by keeping the main materials etc secret - so increasingly academics are pressurised to keep materials locked up behind password protection or other security. At my uni, we are currently given a choice of leaving our handouts "open" or "closed" to the ed.ac.uk domain - but the in-built default is closed and the option is being contested higher up the uni. It's not good times for a P2P model to enter the field much as I'd like it to.
Going back to your proposal, re schools, I'd say (a) applies but (b) may not (do schools compete for pupils in the same way unis compete for fee-paying students? I'm not sure.)
Posted by: Lilian at Oct 31, 2003 6:10:00 PM
Excellent idea, I've thought the same thing.
It could be quite a simple process of uploading and downloading lessons. Kids could mark the lessons by a number of categories: interest, fun etc and teachers get to see the marks before they decide which ones to download.
From a numbers perspective there is a massive duplication of effort, not all of that duplication should disappear, but access to quality lessons has got to be good thing.
Posted by: George Eldon at Nov 1, 2003 8:40:55 PM
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Posted by: Svetlana at Jun 14, 2004 10:09:36 PM
You are doing a wonderful job, just love the site!!!
There is always more information out there.
Thanks for the good informationen.
Posted by: goerge fild at Jun 27, 2004 4:30:14 PM
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