ITE Forum: Designing Teaching Resources
Meeting on 16th May 2019, members of the ITE Forum discussed how teachers can design their own teaching resources and the importance of this to teachers' professional development.
The meeting, co-chaired by Peter Claxton (SMART Technologies) and Conor Galvin (University College Dublin), began with short presentations giving examples of tools that help teachers design their own resources. David Leat of the University of Newcastle presented an application created by a Newcastle University PhD student which develops content and activities linked to young people's needs and interests related to local resources and issues. Alessia Signorelli (University of Perugia) provided examples of programmes helping students improve their social and emotional skills, including applications such as Positive Penguins, Go Strength and The Social Express. Peter Claxton then presented the tools SMART Technologies have developed for teachers, designed to save them time and become part of communities where they can exchange their practices.
However, as pointed out during the discussion following the presentations, teachers nowadays face numerous obstacles in using the technology when designing teaching resources. For example, most online resources are not Open Educational Resources and need to be paid for. Moreover, teachers face enormous pressure and work overload, limiting the time they can spend on designing resources. Likewise, lack of digital skills can also hold back use of the resources available to teachers. Teachers can also be reluctant to share resources they develop with other teachers, fearing critical reactions to their work. Other obstacles mentioned were the administrative side of teachers' work, the need to follow closely national curricula and a lack of support from colleagues or senior management.
To tackle these obstacles, participants agreed that the backing and support of their institution and senior leaders such as head teachers, are necessary in designing the resources. The policy context is also important as it sets the scene. This context needs to encourage and support teachers' imagination and creativity, not restricting them to strictly follow national curricula. The way assessment systems are designed should also be rethought, as currently they tend to stifle innovation in teaching and learning, and make it difficult for teachers to find time and motivation to create their own learning resources.