The last formal online traces of the most comprehensive collection of TV programmes (more than 3,500) on teaching and learning have just disappeared with the axing of the Teachers TV website by the Coalition Government. But a group of UK teachers has succeeded in downloading all 4,000 or so videos and materials to share with other educators online.
One of the organisers of the rescue mission, Leon Cych, of Learn 4 Life, says, "In four days a group of determined teachers have literally 'saved' Teachers TV. Imagine a whole workforce as determined and selfless as them. I think our current generation of children are in good hands."
However, the materials have already been 'liberated' for the teaching profession in a way that probably was not anticipated by the DfE – within the terms of the Creative Archive licence. And Leon Cych and his collaborators have already catalogued them ready for use by other educators.
'Teachers can use ICT in highly organised ways to protect the things they value'
"I think what has been achieved is a sense that teachers can use ICT in highly organised ways to protect the things they value when doing their job," he says. "In this case it was the sense that the physical files of a great resource would be lost from TeachersTV.
"Yes, there will be deals with larger commercial players to stream the content, but everyone realises that you can't always rely on an internet connection; you need the file you want on your hard drive there and then – especially when giving CPD to a group of colleagues or showing a 'starter' to an impatient group of Year 9s.
"People rallied around to save the files. I had started to wonder out loud on the online Naace list and then thought, 'Well why doesn't everyone just download a few files and see if we can save the content locally? That's allowed under the Creative Archive licence.' So I wrote a blog post about it and started a Twitter tag which was double edged – #saveTTV – and it just started to grow from there. A lot of people would like to 'remix' and share the films, making them more suitable for local contexts; you can't always do that with streamed video."
The group is creating a "crowd-sourced clearing house" on Google Docs for any educators wanting to use the materials. There's no desire by the group of teachers to be distributors for the materials. Leon Cych emphasises: "I don't want to be a licensee and I'm not making any money out of it – I'm acting with good intent here."
'This is an amazing affirmation of what we achieved,' says ex-Teachers TV boss
"I am so proud of the ICT teaching community in this country," he adds. They have an ultra-professional 'can-do' attitude. Even Andrew Bethell, the ex CEO and director of external affairs at Teachers TV, told us: 'Great work. This is an amazing affirmation of what we achieved, a real benefit to our users. Thanks.'
"Another amazing spin-off is that it has taught people a little more about IPR [intellectual property rights] and different types of licencing around media which is no bad thing in the 21st century where the online culture is moving so fast. I would like to think that this has engendered a stronger sense of community in the ICT teaching community. People have been asking for years how ICT can be used effectively in education – well here's a very concrete example of the use of social media, combined with ICT, to effect change and make the difference for the common good in UK schools.
"Teachers are excellent at that – they are doers and have demonstrated how much they will do to save something they value. Some people have been sitting there for three days solid, downloading files for their schools.
The DfE's Twitter announcement that the programmes would be available online within two weeks puzzled Leon Cych and his collaborators. Particularly as the Government had made no announcements about a plan for a smooth transition.
'Tragedy" of loss of only education free-to-air broadcast station
"What is a tragedy," he concludes, "is that the only UK education regular free-to-air TV broadcast station has been lost. However, I would love to work with anyone thinking of doing the equivalent online or using IPTV. The production costs would be far less than terrestrial TV and an amazing resource could continue.
"The Teachers TV films will be useful for years to come but they will 'age' eventually – what is needed is continuous resource that reflects current practice. Despite the claim from certain quarters that we should use minimal ICT and just go back to teaching Matthew Arnold's dictum, 'the best of what has been said and done', I think we need to take on board that the best probably hasn't happened yet, and technology is going to be part of that – enabling education and video is a big part of that culture change.
"Look at the teacher who won the prize for Jamie's Dream School, David Rogers, who makes extensive use of media and Web 2.0. We are in a whole new world of educational resources."
Learn 4 Life
A Google Doc detailing the archive of downloaded Teachers TV videos can be viewed here.
Department for Education statement on demise of Teachers TV
Teachers TV, which had more than 4,000 subscribers, close its website on April 29 following the termination of its contract, worth around £10.7 million a year, by the Department for Education. The website contained up to 4,000 15-minute programmes and related content.
Teachers TV closed its broadcasting services on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media in 2010, and continued as a popular web-only service with more than 3,115 different videos viewed every week.
Teachers TV reckoned it had filmed more than 5,400 teachers in 2,500 schools, and more than 1,900 educational experts, advisers and academics. The videos were tailored for key figures in school communities – teachers, leaders, classroom assistants and administration staff – and were widely viewed. In one four-month period in 2010 videos were streamed more than 1.6 million times.