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In my experience, there are three kinds of teachers in college: (1) super-committed educators who prepare for courses meticulously and seem baffled that anyone else can go into a classroom without having done 20+ hours of prep, (2) educational minimalists who seemingly start thinking about the day’s material 10 – 15 minutes before class begins, and (3) the spookily productive who seem both deeply committed but utterly stress free when it comes to teaching, and who — as far as I can tell — seem to spend just a little more time preparing than their minimalist counterparts. Since you’re reading this blog, I think it’s safe to assume that you aspire to be in category (3). In the remainder of this post, I’m going to reveal and unpack a pedagogical tip that will move you one step closer to that goal.

I first started thinking about drawing on existing educational resources when my wife, who is a second grade teacher, introduced me to “Teachers Pay Teachers,” a platform where primary and secondary school educators sell and share resources they’ve created for their own classrooms. My first thought was, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was such a platform for college educators?!” Well, it turns out, there is something like it — platforms that collect and curate “Open Educational Resources,” materials that have been created for college coursework with the idea that anyone anywhere can access and use them for free. (Thus, these resources don’t include things like trademarked images, and use Creative Commons or public domain materials.) Merlot II is one such platform. Other, similar sites, include OERCommons, OEConsortium, Open Textbook Library, and OpenStax.

A second type of online resource that can help you cut down prep time is what I’m calling “educational reviewers.” There are a number of people who spend vast amounts of time and effort sifting through all the technological educational resources that are being released on an almost daily basis, and their reviews can introduce you to effective new tools and help you avoid wasting time on ineffective or glitchy tools. One of my favorite educational reviewers is EduFlip, which also has a YouTube channel devoted to helping educators use technological resources to create “flipped classrooms” (a concept they also introduce on their website if you are unfamiliar with it). Similarly, ProfHacker is a blog that regularly hosts discussions of up-to-date pedagogical tools, techniques, and theories.

The teaching tip above is a example of the generally good idea to “work smarter, not harder.” There are only so many hours in the day, and you’re just one person with certain pedagogical strengths and weaknesses. It helps to remember that you can leverage your strengths and help neutralize your weaknesses by finding and utilizing resources in the broader community of higher-ed.


Thanks to Chris Clark for pointing me toward several of these resources, and to Chris and Kristi Rudenga for suggestions on a draft of this post.

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