I had a really good conversation yesterday with Cath Brooksbank and Sarah Morgan, who do training at EMBL-EBI in Hinxton. During the conversation we touched on CourseSource, a peer-reviewed journal in which people can publish undergraduate biology lessons—not studies of the lesson's effectiveness, but the lessons themselves.
This is a brilliant idea, and thinking about it has made me realize why I've never been excited about online lesson repositories. We already have repositories for the things academics do: they're called journals. And we have portals (or aggregators, or whatever you want to call them): they are things like PubMed. What we don't have is people putting things into the system in the first place. Growing a separate parallel system to do those things for lessons hasn't worked: as far as I can tell, most of what's uploaded to lesson repositories just sits there.
Ever since we published our lessons I've been wondering why journals like CourseSource aren't the norm. Academics invest a lot of time in creating teaching materials, just as they do with data and code: why aren't they trying to get as much recognition for their work on lessons as they now are for their work on the latter? Whatever the reason, I think peer review (pre-pub or post-pub, anonymous or not) is the obvious next step for our lessons, and I'm going to push for us to do this with the next version of our material.
This post originally appeared in the Software Carpentry blog.