Creating Good Content: Considerations for Educators
You are also creating content in almost everything you do. I’m not talking about the monographs, research papers, and journal articles that you produce for the benefit of your peers and, ultimately, your academic standing. I’m talking about the content that you deploy or produce for your students. As a Real Teacher, you put a lot into this because it’s a key component to running your course. Your classroom time is scarce, and your one-on-one time with students—even more scarce.
Educational content comes in a wide range of formats, such as:
- Textbooks (one-way consumption, wide audience)
- Test questions (two-way, to measure progress)
- Tweets (direct connection with student)
You probably rely on a lot of pre-packaged content in your course. But, the best educational content functions differently. It has a goal beyond mere consumption. It’s meant to be handled and worked with, mixed and remixed, challenged, and compared with other content. If you are a Real Teacher, you may find your pre-packaged content to be unsatisfactory because of this.
So, you create your own. You write your own test questions. You provide study sheets with YOUR take on a topic instead of the “textbook” explanation. You produce a graph that illuminates a data story better than anything you’ve found in published works. You explain a concept to a struggling student via e-mail. This is what Real Teachers do.
You are creating a connection. If it’s not face-to-face, in person, then that connection requires content. In the digital world, connection happens around content.
What if you were able to get more out of that content? Or, more specifically, what if more students could benefit from your content? What if the content—the content that you are creating anyway—could be more efficient?
The MOOC “craze” grew, in part, out of the dissatisfaction of instructors who were only able to connect with a small group of students each year. They were creating courses—sometimes a ton of content for each course—that was destined to reach only a limited audience. The cost of distribution has gone to zero (or at least close to it). So, why not share it more widely?
Let’s examine that. What do you, the instructor, get out of sharing your content?
- Wider impact. You are in academia because you believe in ideas. Creating ideas, studying ideas, sharing ideas, and sparking new ideas. The enemy of ideas is obscurity. An idea that isn’t shared isn’t really an idea. An idea that is hampered by limitation of scale has less of a chance to prosper and grow.
- Professional recognition. If you are creating content, then you are your own brand. Good Content is a reflection of you and your brand. Good Content makes you more valuable. You may not realize direct payment from each piece of content you create, but it is building your authority and credibility.
- Social good. You know something good. Share it. For the reasons above—or just because you’ve made the world better by sharing your knowledge. It’s why you’re a teacher, right?
- Reuse = efficiency. Creating your own library of instructional content helps you be more efficient in your own course, too. Even if the wider world doesn’t benefit from your content, you will be able to (re)use it next semester. Real Teachers have been doing this for years with personal test banks and Powerpoint slides.
This is a call to action. The world needs you. Let’s get your ideas out there.
I can help you. This article is the first of a series of “Considerations for Content Creators,” focused on educators—Real Teachers who want to do more with their content. Once you’ve decided to go for it, you can start slowly. But, you need a simple mind shift first. Today, your audience is your students, sitting in front of you this semester. Tomorrow, it will be a wider audience who will benefit from your energy and ideas.
NEXT POST: What Makes Good Content?
You can find the entire Good Content Series at http://bit.ly/GoodContentSeries.
Michael Boezi is an Independent Advisor and Content Strategist, specializing in helping authors and publishers make the Shift to Digital. He is a longtime publishing veteran who has helped hundreds of authors realize their ideas, from concept to completion, over a variety of roles. Michael was Vice President of Content and Community at Flat World Knowledge, where he was responsible for all aspects of content acquisition and development, and built a catalog of 100+ peer-reviewed, openly licensed college textbooks across various subjects. He writes a blog about current issues and trends in the EdTech industry, which you can find at http://michaelboezi.com, along with a full portfolio and more detail on consulting services for content creators, content owners, entrepreneurs, and investors. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.