Make It Yourself

3 mins reading

What’s the difference between someone buying you a cake and making one themselves?

There is something special about the act of teachers making something for students. This is hardly specific to digital media making of course. I still remember my Japanese teacher in Year 11 bringing sushi along to class. It was probably mostly the fact it was great food that made this stand out, but when a teacher makes something it signals something extra…

Unfortunately, I can’t claim to have made this myself… 😦

In a time-poor world where so many resources can be quickly googled, I imagine the impetus to use the media of others is increasingly strong – and on the face of it there’s nothing wrong with doing so. But when I hear the main strategy for teaching students in some contexts is to send them to a series of external video tutorials (I’ve heard this said at my institution alone a number of times), it seems – and I’m sure it’s perceived by students as – somewhat uninspired.

Here are some initial thoughts on why educators making things for students themselves can be very powerful:


One important element of teaching is to be able to convey information in a credible way. Selecting engaging and valuable media resources can accomplish this, but is there a point at which this might be seen as ‘outsourcing’ your teaching to a search engine or In many cases, making it yourself will say a lot not only about what you’re saying, but the person who’s saying it.


Settling on a straightforward definition of ‘creativity’ is no easy task, but doing creative things in the making of your own media for teaching purposes has an abundance of benefits. Not least of all, it’s inherently motivating (for both educators and students) and by engaging in the (or a) creative process, teachers can enhance an intended ‘lesson’ by adding to the initial meanings in unexpected ways.


There are multiple possible layers to the creation of ‘connection’ as well. This could be an enhanced affinity felt by students for teacher-generated content, due to the extra effort they can see has gone into setting up the experience, or a greater connection of the content to the intended purpose due to heightened relevance of customised content.

Of course, ‘making it yourself’ can be something as substantial as an interactive website and as small as a GIF; it doesn’t have to be a huge deal. Below are a few examples of tutors Sally Brandon and Emily Wade taking the initiative to make some media to engage with – and offer professional exemplars to – students:

I guarantee that the many students who engaged with these tweets – and many others like it – would not have done so with the same enthusiasm had the media within them been created by some other acknowledged or unknown source. It’s not a universal rule, and it’s not always feasible or possible to do in every scenario, but making it yourself can be a great way to go…

Future posts on this site will unpack lots of other strategies for, and examples of, ‘doing it yourself’ – among many other things – so I hope you’ll join me for that.

Thanks for reading, and let me know of any particularly powerful experiences of teacher-generated content that you’ve had (as an educator or a student). I’d love to hear from you!!

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