We live in a digital age, and there is no denying it. Between checking our emails, tweeting from our smartphones and Yelp-ing new lunch spots, we are adapting a tech-centric lifestyle. So, why are we still stuck in the Ice Age when it comes to optimizing our teaching resources?
Too much time and energy are going to waste recreating lessons when there is already so much available just within a teacher’s own district. Tapping into the power of the masses is a compelling tool when it comes to inheriting the collective experience and knowledge available. Many industries have become familiar with the concept of crowdsourcing — obtaining content by pooling contributions from a large group. Children even know to crowdsource after Halloween when they gather in the schoolyard to consolidate their candy; that way, everyone can choose exactly what they want. Applying the concept to education is simple, yet genius.
Here are three signs that your school district needs to crowdsource:
1. Common Core resources are decentralized and inaccessible
There are quality Common Core lesson plans being used everyday, but they are scattered anywhere and everywhere. Lessons are sitting in notebooks, hiding under stacks of folders, and vegetating on forgotten USB sticks. Online crowdsourcing allows educators to pool and organize all of their work in one place so they can be easily accessible. How useful is the best lesson plan in the world if it’s buried in a desk drawer?
2. Your teachers are exhausted
If your teachers look overly fatigued and on the brink of collapse, you can probably blame those long hours on lesson planning. In addition to their normal workday, educators spend several hours reinventing the wheel each time they create another lesson that already exists. Rather than rewriting lessons that have been created thousands of times over, teachers should be able to access proven materials shared by other educators in their district. This kind of sharing on the district level makes content more easily implementable and better trusted.
3. Students are unengaged
Keeping students engaged in the classroom is a tough task, but it can be achieved with a well-prepared teacher and the right quality lesson. Crowdsourcing allows for teachers to spend more time refining resources and focusing on instruction. If teachers spend more time building off of lessons that already exist, students receive more personalized and differentiated instruction. This drives higher student outcomes.
Yes, there is novelty to the term “old school”, but there’s a fine line between thrift-shop hip and “outdated” when it comes to the way we create content. Chalk and blackboard are not cutting edge technology anymore and the days of storing lesson plans in file cabinets is heading out the door. As we see content become digitalized, our students are counting on their teachers to access the best Common Core materials, saving time in the planning process and delivering the highest quality instruction possible.
UClass is making this all possible through the UClass.io pilot, which we are rolling out in ten lucky school districts. This product offers a centralized system where teachers can access any resource created in their district, stimulating crowdsourcing and collaboration. Apply by February 15 to have your very own custom-built content solution.