Look at each of the questions in turn and think carefully about how they relate to your own training experiences. Then click on each box to see tips, advice, guidance and further information.
Identify, select and create digital content that supports teacher learning
1. Think about any online training sessions which you have attended. What were the advantages and disadvantages of using digital (non-print) content?
Online training allows you to use more digital content than traditional training does. There are both advantages and disadvantages to using digital content.
Some advantages are:
- there are no printing costs so training can be more cost-efficient
- there is no need to distribute notes to teachers
- you can use a variety of different mediums – text, video, audio clips, pictures, visual stories, etc.
- the choice of materials is vast and you can use experts to give information.
Some disadvantages are:
- data costs and low bandwidths
- teachers with little experience of technology are unable to find information in digital files
- some information available on the internet is not accurate, inclusive or respectful to minority groups – you need to check all sources before sharing
- there may be hidden costs for some software.
2. What types of digital content are you most likely to use in training? Where can you find them?
Different sessions need different types of content. Some sessions require a lot of reading, so documents, material from websites, articles and even blogs are good sources of content. Other sessions may be interactive and you may want to use quizzes and interactive games. Others are made more engaging by the use of video and images.
You may be following a specific course which is already online. You can use the material in its original form or supplement it with material of your own. Organisations like the British Council have a lot of digital content saved on their websites. You can find many useful articles, blogs and lesson plans at www.teachingenglish.org.uk.
Use a search engine like Google to search for general content.
3. How do you know that the content you have chosen is suitable? What criteria can you use to evaluate it?
There is a lot of digital content available but much of it is not suitable for training. Before you download anything, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it meet the learning objectives and the needs of the teachers?
- Do I need permission to use this? Is it copyright restricted?
- Is the information accurate?
- Are the graphics clear?
- Is there too much writing on the page?
- Are the videos short enough to hold attention but long enough to cover the topic?
- What is the purpose of the content – to teach a topic, to extend knowledge, to give the participants some light relief, to provide answers to questions? Does this content do what it needs to do?
- Is the content free from bias and is it respectful to all participants?
- Does it model good online teaching?
Can you think of other criteria which are relevant in your context?
4. How can you ensure that resources you use or create are legal?
Copyright laws protect an author’s original work. You can use other people’s work, but you need to follow the copyright laws of your country.
In most cases it is fair to use ten per cent of an article, story, poem or piece of music. If you want to use more, you need to get written permission from the creator.
Some material, especially music and literature, becomes free to use after a certain period of time. Some material is created using a Creative Commons licence which allows you to use and adapt it free of charge.
Check the laws of your country for copyright restrictions.
5. How do you develop your own digital content? What criteria do you need to use?
Sometimes you may want, or need, to make your own content. Although there are many different software programmes which can do this, you can achieve a lot just using basic programmes like Word and PowerPoint. When making materials, you should follow these guidelines.
- Understand the needs of the teachers and address them.
- Produce high-quality materials that meet learning outcomes.
- Be honest, ethical and responsible when publishing materials you’ve made.
- Respect the rights of other copyright owners – reference any material you use.
- Don’t copy and paste other people’s work and claim it as your own.
- Make sure the information in your content is accurate and without bias.
- Use high-quality graphics that add to the material and don’t just fill a space.
- Save the content in a format that the teachers can access easily.
6. What challenges do you anticipate in sourcing, selecting and creating online digital resources for your training? What could you do to minimise these?
The biggest problem when selecting digital resources is the volume of resources available. Making your own resources is also challenging.
Here are some common challenges and how to solve them.
- ‘Some content I found on the internet covers some of the learning outcomes but not all of them’: Use the content but ask the teachers to say how it could be improved. Getting them to identify the gaps can be a really valuable learning experience.
- ‘A video is too long to send on an online platform like WhatsApp’: Use software which makes the file smaller to make the video easier to send. Handbrake (www.handbrake.fr) is a useful tool, but there are many more you can download free.
- ‘The image I chose from Google Images has a watermark on it when I insert it in my document’: The image is copyrighted. The watermark is to show that you need permission to use it. Either ask for permission, pay the fee or choose another image.
- ‘Teachers complain that the content I send is difficult to read because there is too much writing’: Use headings, graphics and captions to break up the information so that the document is not too text-heavy.
- ‘Tools to create online content are very expensive’: There are many free tools online. Some of them don’t offer all the features of the paid versions, but they are usually adequate for what you need. If you are nervous, use your normal word processor or publishing software and then save the document as a PDF so that the teachers can’t change it as they use it.
What do you need to learn to use digital content well?
This is up to you. Make a list of what you need to learn and then look for tutorials online to help you. You can find some excellent videos here:
Most tools like Zoom or WhatsApp have their own tutorials on how to use them. Here is a useful article by the British Council: www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/prepare-teachers-online-lessons.