Instructional Design Authoring: When You Can't Find Content / by Tyler Wood


“There are a million resources available on the Internet and creating more seems among the successful wastes of time in which teachers love to engage” (Hattie, 2012, p. 64).


I can understand the response by Hattie in this quote because it is true that many teachers around the world are currently engaged in creating content that already exist somewhere on the internet. I have done it myself. I was once told a saying that was attributed to the Jewish (though I have not been able to verify that) that goes something like this, "when given the choice between A and B, choose C." There is always a way around a duality of choice, I find. There is a middle ground because there are also many areas, ideas, or specifics that are not online, or at least not free. I would say that there is certainly the possibility to cull content already created to eleviate the need to make all of your class content, it is also true that there will probably be holes in the content at some point that will need plugging with created content by the teacher. 

Having said that, I would also argue that creating your own content should not be an action we do because we have to, but because we want to personalize our learning as well. Our children want to have a learning environment that caters to them. Many things can be done with content already online with that in mind, but making a few things that are more personal to the class, teacher, or student helps create the idea that they are a part of something actively, not witnessing passively. I have taken a course or two on EdX, for example, and it does feel a bit disconnected because there are no direct personal connections to me there. Of course, how can there be, they are offering free classes to millions of people, but that is the trade-off. I'm glad they do what they do, but I would like my class to feel more personal for my students, so filming myself or writing content myself can help make that connection. 

I have also found that finding content can take some time and, at least for some content, it is easier and faster to make it yourself. Maybe it is an ESL thing, but I have had so much trouble finding very basic worksheets for my students to work on for grammar. Probably because many companies make money selling grammar textbooks, but writing a grammar worksheet is as fast as typing out a few sentences with blanks and I even get to throw my students' names in for that personal touch. They always get a kick out of seeing their names in the books or on homework sheets. 

Another thing is versatility. Relying on culled content means that the content you find will shape how you create your lesson because that is the content that is available. Having the option to create content yourself leaves you open to going a new way with something. I used a Stephen Hawking documentary for my lesson on the history of the universe. It was not a documentary specifically for educators, so I had to write my own worksheets to go with the video, so I was gathering content and creating content to work symbiotically in the class. I think that is the key to content: first figure out your goals, then gather as much content you can that is made already, and then create content as companion content or content that fills in the gaps. After that, you can start creating content to make culled content better or more personal. 


Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. New York, NY: Routledge.