Information Age Education Blog
A Personal Digital Filing Cabinet for Every Teacher
In the past couple of weeks, Information Age Education has made substantial progress in editing and updating its IAE-pedia. I believe the entry on Digital Filing Cabinets is one of the more important entries in the IAE-Pedia. See http://iae-pedia.org/Digital_Filing_Cabinet/Overview.
The idea is very simple. We now have quite good technology that makes it easy for each preservice and inservice teacher to accumulate a personal library of “good stuff.” I call such a collection a Personal Digital Filing Cabinet.
All teachers accumulate materials that they find useful in their teaching. It is now convenient to have quite a bit of such material available in electronic digital form so it can be easily accessed, edited, copied, and shared. Here are two key ideas of such a personal library:
- As you develop this library and make extensive use of it, you gain personal ownership of and familiarity with the content. In some sense it become an extension of your brain. Browsing though your collection can help retrieve a memory that you have temporarily forgotten.
- You can readily share your personal library with professional colleagues, students, parents of your students, and others. This facilitates the development of a lifelong habit of listening to education-related needs of others and providing them with content that you are comfortable in sharing and that you feel is relevant to their needs.
Notice that such a personal library is quite different from the concept of the very extensive electronic “impersonal” libraries such as the Web. Your Personal Digital Filing Cabinet contains material that you have personally studied and used. It is information that you consider to be “tried and true.” Moreover it can gain in value over time. Each time you access a document, you can add a comment that explains what you were looking for and whether the article was helpful. You can add thoughts on possible other uses of the document, and other places in your Personal Digital Filing Cabinet that you have found useful when searching on the topic you currently have in mind.
A Bit of History
I first started thinking and writing about the idea of preservice and inservice teachers having a personal digital library of teaching/learning materials more than 25 years ago. The Internet existed at the time, but the Web (the World Wide Web developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990-1991) had not yet been invented. At that time I was particularly interested in math education and I envisioned that a student entering an elementary school teacher education program could be provided with a free CD-ROM containing a reasonably extensive library of math content and math education materials.
Of course, in those days most preservice and inservice teachers had a personal print library of books, “handouts,” course notes, and so on that they had accumulated and were building. But I envisioned giving every preservice and inservice elementary teacher a relatively large library of a books, lesson plans, assessment instruments, state math standards, and similar documents. These would be specifically related to the math content, instructional processes, and assessment they were studying and using. I strongly believed that this would help improve math education.
Suggestion to Teacher Education Programs
One of the things I would like to see happen is for each teacher education institution or program of study to develop a Digital Filing Cabinet that is aligned to its courses, programs of study, and other college/university coursework relevant to preservice and inservice teachers. For example, it may be that preservice elementary teachers take a math methods course from the College of Education and some Math for Elementary Teachers courses from the Mathematics Department. Each of these types of courses needs to be covered in the DFC.
On a larger scale, I would like to see the teacher education programs in each state collaborate in developing a Digital Filing Cabinet for the state. Preservice and inservice teachers in a state have a lot in common, and they can benefit from having a Digital Filing Cabinet that reflects the various programs of study and the curriculum standards of the state.
DFCs for Students at All Levels
Here is an idea that I believe many teachers and their students will find useful. Each student can be building a Personal DFC—adding to it year after year from what they are studying and learning in their formal schooling and informal education.
While such a collection is not a portfolio, it can certainly have some portfolio-like characteristics. It is becoming common for grade school students to begin to develop portfolios of their schoolwork and other activities. The process includes selecting representative samples of one’s work and writing a critical analysis of the work. This is an important aspect of learning to self-assess and learning to take responsibility for one’s education.
A student's Personal DFC provides a historical record of what the student has been taught in school and has studies/learned both inside and outside of school. It can contain information about the books studied and personal likes and dislikes at the time. Besides its personal historical record, it can provide help in reviewing and relearning what one has learned in the past.
What You Can Do
Analyze the progress you are making (or, the lack of progress) in having a Personal Digital Filing Cabinet relevant to your professional career. If you feel your current progress is inadequate to your lifelong learning and professional needs, make a decision to do something about this—and, then do it!
Explore the extent to which the PDFC ideas from this IAE Blog entry have been implemented in your professional circles. If progress is occurring, contribute to it. If the idea of PDFC seems to be totally inadequate or missing in your preservice, inservice, and professional circles, take the initiative and start something.
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you:
Digital filing cabinet/general purpose documents. See http://iae-pedia.org/Digital_Filing_Cabinet/General_Purpose_Documents.
Digital filing cabinet/secondary school history. See http://iae-pedia.org/Digital_Filing_Cabinet/Secondary_School_History.
Digital filing cabinet/tools. See http://iae-pedia.org/Digital_Filing_Cabinet/Tools.
Math education digital filing cabinet. See http://iae-pedia.org/Math_Education_Digital_Filing_Cabinet.