Share and share alike?

Image, resources at The Manchester Museum

Image, resources at The Manchester Museum

There was an article in Guardian Education last week about the National Digital Resource Bank (NDRB) – an online system for teachers that could act as a copyright-free library of teaching resources: lesson plans etc. The chances are that a colleague somewhere has already developed schemes of work and support materials on the subject you want to cover, so the bank would save teachers from having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ completely when they are planning. The idea wasn’t to encourage teachers to be lazy, plagiarising colleagues in effect by downloading their work, it was to encourage sharing of examples of effective practice – the chances are that you would have to adapt or update the material, but a good idea that works with one group of children is likely to work with others.

This got me thinking about museums and galleries. We all invest time and money in developing sessions and workshops supported by pre- and post visit materials, and many of us have similar collections and audiences, so I was wondering whether we could pool and share our learning resources. It already happens informally, colleague to colleague, and would certainly be in the spirit of Renaissance in the Regions. It might also be one way of ensuring consistency of quality across the sector. It would mean giving up excusive rights to material that has been developed and paid for by particular funding streams, which might be an issue, but I think there would be much more to gain than lose by sharing what we have produced. The NDRB is estimated to cost £400,000 a year, which is just 0.2% of the total technology budget for schools. For our sector this sort of cost might be prohibitive, but there may be other ways of achieving the same thing.

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2 thoughts on “Share and share alike?

  1. The Guardian article mentions contributions from archives, by which I assume they also mean museums. I’ve heard that Culture 24 is working on a Teachers Cultural Resource Discovery Portal for BECTA, which I assume must be a section of this NDRB. So, I don’t think we should be starting up anything from scratch but insisting on good communication from bodies like BECTA & MLA to know what infrastructure plans they have for our sector, and asking how we can contribute our ideas and resources.

    • I agree. It would be interesting to know whether BECTA and MLA are working together on systems that would enable NDRB-type sharing to happen without such great expense. Maybe someone out there knows!

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