Tip 4: Become a filter of relevant content for your learners

Tip 3 was all about creating relevant and practical activities to learn through doing - and this is where the bulk of my preparation time is spent (well, the time that's not assessing). But note that these are practical learning activities - not learning content. These days I hardly ever create learning content for my classes... but do spend lots of time filtering content for students.

If your teaching or learning area is anything like mine (Information Technology) you'll have a myriad of excellent learning content being created for you as you sleep by working professionals and companies promoting their products. There is virtually no need for me to create content for our classes - there's better material written by more qualified professionals being published daily out there on the web (see Do we need teachers of Web Design for examples and discussion).

That said, given the vastness of the internet, new learners won't always have the skills to find, filter and process these excellent resources – let alone, find them in a sensible order to learn them - which is why I reckon it's the teacher's role to filter, evaluate and structure these materials for new learners. But to be able to do that, we teachers need to be keeping current ourselves, reading the latest professional articles or blog posts, evaluating new tutorials for relevance and quality, etc. Learning to find and filter information has always been useful for our own professional development, as well as for modelling our own learning to our students, but the point here is that being skilled at filtering relevant content for individuals has become even more essential with the proliferation of available content on the internet (both good and bad). One of our web students puts it like this (in a comment on Do we need teachers of web design):

There is so much out there and sometimes it’s all to much. Having a teacher, and being in a learning environment, where everyone is looking for the most helpful and affecting information is vital, for me anyway.

One of the best things about working on your filtering skills is that as your skills improve and you connect with more and more relevant professional blogs, you'll find that without realising it you have yourself become absorbed in learning - rather than content creation!

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