Digital repositories to streamline instruction

Instructors have always to one degree or another recycled and resused instructional materials and other artifacts for teaching. However, with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, the methods of archiving, accessing, and reusing materials have enabled greater ease in locating materials, using them, interacting with them, and resusing them. However, unless you really KNOW about these new technologies and the various ways of using them, you really can’t take advantage of them.

With Web 2.0 technologies, you can use “digital repositories” to store, edit, and access materials of any kind. A digital repository is an electronic space where you can do this . . . very much like the C:// drive on your computer, but better, since you can access these materials from ANY computer. If you are an instructor and want to reuse instructional materials, it makes sense to use a digital repository.

If you are using Blackboard, you are already using a form of a digital repository. You store documents and other electronic files there, making them accessible to students. You also can export these materials into a new course site, saving time and additional work.

However, Blackboard is a system that offers interaction only for those students enrolled in a course. Online repositories, on the other hand, offer more interaction with a wider audience. For instance, uploading a narrated slide show to authorStream can be used by others for instructional purposes, making further use of a good instructional tool. A wiki constructed by a student can serve as a learning respository for another class, maybe even opening it up to these students as members, so they can edit and continue the learning process.

In order to make this kind of digital repository work, teachers and students need to have similar access and the desire to share artifacts and instructional materials. One way to do this is through using a Learning Management System (LMS), where students not only experience the learning objects, but also interact with peers about it. (The LMS is the delivery vehicle, but the students and interactions that ensue really drive the learning.)

Tagging (creating taxonomies) content can greatly enable and strengthen online learning repositories. If students are uploading multimedia content online, they can all tag this content in the same, unique way, thus enabling easy searching, access, and interaction with these materials.

As you continue to create instructional materials, saving them becomes an efficient way to reuse them. But now, you need to think about leveraging the use of digital repositories to make this saving easier, more efficient, and more valuable to students, you, and potentially others. As you continue to read about these technologies in this blog and explore their uses, try them out with your students and think about how you might use and share them.

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