With teachers spending on average seven to eight hours a week preparing their lessons, sharing resources is proving very effective at saving time and improving classes, writes Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, managing director of digital at TES Global
Almost 10 years ago we noticed active discussions about teaching materials on an online TES forum and we were asked if we could help find a way of making such resources more easily shared. From this request our TES Resources platform was born as a means for teachers to quickly exchange materials, expertise and teaching practices.
In February 2015, we launched the TES Marketplace, introducing paid-for content as a way of funding this ever-growing platform. There are now over 400,000 premium resources available on the platform, attracting buyers from over 180 countries.
Overall, the TES network now has over 8 million members worldwide and we’re expecting to see our billionth download in 2017. Teachers from across the globe share classroom resources, lesson plans, assessments, worksheets and student activities, covering 30 subjects across early years, primary, secondary, whole school and SEN. They are filtered by age range and curriculum subjects and teachers can choose to share for free or for a fee.
We currently host 1.6 million pieces of content and over 65,000 videos on the platform. It has grown to the point that more than one million resources are downloaded each day by teachers across more than 200 countries, with one in five UK teachers having purchased a resource. We estimate that the resources have reached over 80 million students since it was launched.
WHY HAS IT BECOME SO POPULAR?
Teachers spend on average seven to eight hours a week preparing their lessons and the bulk of this happens after school and at weekends. It’s a factor in increasing workload, stress and a contributor to teachers’ poor work-life balance. It was this damaging combination of a lack of time and insufficient classroom materials that led Ray Rodgers, a specialist who has supported dyslexic pupils, to shift to online platforms.
He joined TES in 2009 and eventually set up his own TES Resources Shop, which to date has been viewed more than a million times.
Indeed, the resources platform has been shown to be very effective at saving teachers time and helping them improve their classes by benefiting from the collective knowledge of the global teaching community.
We teamed up with Stanford University to survey teacher sentiment on the platform: 90 per cent of 10,000 teachers rated the resources they used as above-average in both quality and relevance, and more than 30 per cent gave the maximum score for both categories. Out of all the materials downloaded from the marketplace two in three are used in the classroom.
Measuring the effectiveness of a marketplace for teachers has been a challenge. Social proof is an effective gauge and indicator of the value placed on the resources. Teachers can review the available materials so we can organically promote the best performing content and drive repeat use and greater adoption of the platform. More than 200,000 resources have been reviewed by teachers 700,000 times to date.
Teachers also reported that online resources positively affect their day‑to‑day classroom experience. More than two‑thirds of participants in our Stanford study reported that using TES materials had a strong positive impact on the quality of their instruction, helping them develop effective lessons, engage students, and introduce new pedagogical methods.
Teachers also felt very strongly that access to online resource marketplaces enabled them to be part of a community where teachers can learn from each other. Roy Huggins, an experienced history teacher who taught in a tough school in a deprived area of South Yorkshire until August 2016, was drawn to the platform because of the opportunity to share resources and experience with colleagues across the world. His resources have been downloaded 7,340 times over the last year.
The TES marketplace is not just allowing those new to the profession to learn from experienced educators, but it’s also providing teachers with a supplementary income. Paul Urry, headteacher of St William’s Catholic Primary School in Bradford, is one of the world’s most downloaded teacher authors, and has 30 years of teaching experience.
His mix of free and paid-for English, science and maths resources have achieved 3.7 million downloads, assisting teachers and pupils in countries as diverse as the U.S., Kuwait, Iraq, the Falkland Islands and New Zealand. Out of the 713 resources he has posted online, he has sold 126 and has earned around £8,000.
We believe that this community is making a real difference to teachers’ lives, both in the classroom, and when they sit down to prepare their next lesson. And the exciting thing is that we are still only at the start of our journey to help teachers create, share and deliver the best lessons leveraging the potential of digital and multimedia content.