Pay it forward

A few years ago I was on a Train the Trainers day. The chap delivering the training showed us all quite a few nice examples of things to do on Smartboards, one or two I hadn’t seen before, and one or two that were nice variations on a theme. At the end of the training we asked him for a copy of his file so we could incorporate it into our own days. He said no. He’d spent ages making them and didn’t feel happy giving them away. It would be best if we made our own versions… I was gobsmacked. We were working for same company, it wasn’t like we were rival trainers or anything.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw a page I had written appear in someone elses demonstration. It was using a photograph I had taken so was pretty distinctive. More than happy to see that, not a problem. Was quite pleased that they’d liked it so much they wanted to use it. What did surprise me was that when one of the other people in the room asked for a copy, the trainer said no. They’d rather not share something they were using in a current course.

This got me thinking about the way that I share stuff, and expect it to be shared. I’ve always shared the materials I’ve written, ever since I started teaching. One of my earliest web sites back in 1996/1997 contained zip files of worksheets I had written (which – scarily – is still online and gathering dust). Sometimes I’d share stuff with the world whether the world wanted it or not! When I moved out of teaching into teacher training I still produced materials and put them on my site to download. That’s just what I do.

Anyone coming to any of my training courses will get a CD of resources – often far more stuff than I really should be passing on. You will also find a lot of it on this blog too. But if I can help teachers to get started with using whiteboards and other tech then I’m happy to do that.

But I have an expectation. And maybe I haven’t stressed that enough on here, and on my download pages. I’ve mentioned before that I am a big fan of Creative Commons. I love the idea behind share and share alike. And there’s a fantastic community of educators who all share their resources readily with everyone who wants it. It’s great to see.

So here’s the deal. All of my material is distributed under a Creative Commons license. Attribution/Share Alike. It’s always been that way, take a look at the very bottom of the blog, it says so down there, next to the stuff about guinness and chocolate, that’s true too 🙂

I really want you to take what I’ve done and mash it up. Adapt it for your subject. Rework, adapt and adopt. You get the idea. Or even just use it as-is. Any of that is fine with me. I’m not protective of it – please use it. It’s why I share it – for you to use. I want you to have it, and I’m thrilled when I see it used. In no way am I saying – don’t use my stuff.


If you use my stuff in your lesson materials, or your training materials, then the deal is that you make it freely available to everyone else who wants a copy. Put in on your school network. Pass it to your colleagues on a USB stick. Put it on a site for download. Use DropBox. Email it to them. Tell them where you got it and give them the link. Whatever. But don’t hoard it.

Even better – I’d love to see the stuff you make with it. I want to see some of the ways you adapt them for your own subject. Email me, contact me via twitter or just comment on this blog. I hope, through sharing the stuff on this site, that I can inpsire you to make things for yourself. I’ve been chuffed with the response to posts like my Lesson Starter ideas. If you don’t have any webspace and / or don’t want the hassle, email it to me and I can host it here.

Become a sharer yourself. Pay it forward.

Author: Danny Nicholson

Danny is an author, Science teacher, ICT Consultant, PGCE lecturer and computing / interactive whiteboard trainer. He has delivered training courses across the UK, in Europe, and in Canada. Please get in touch with your training requests.

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  1. Couldn’t agree more. I’m curious – did you speak to the person who was using your material but refusing to share it? The Enterprise Network that I am part of is positively encouraging people to share resources for Enterprise Education. It just makes sense – why create something from scratch when somebody in another part of England has done it already? Then, if they tweak or change it, it is lovely to see how it has worked for them. Sometimes, we need to be less ‘precious’ with our work because the sharing of it is two-way traffic.

  2. Didn’t raise it with them. Pointedly told the person who asked for the file that I’d send it to them myself.

  3. Well said Danny.
    Thanks for the resources, Great to see you yesterday.

    I heard the some thing in school a few days ago when a teacher refused to share a book they had been using, Wouldn’t mind but it belonged to the school.

    Sad world!

  4. This sounds like a good way to handle the issue. It seems to be win-win, as long as the source is acknowledged. What you’re describing seems to be the essence of collaboration and something that web 2.0 makes so much easier.

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