Materials Development Task 11: Future-proofing


  • Have you ever created a resource that aged quickly?
  • What aspects/features of a published resource might make it more susceptible to ‘ageing’?
  • How could you, as a writer, minimize the chance of a resource becoming dated?
  • Do you think that resources aimed at certain markets are more likely to date quickly? Why/Why not?

It’s time to play… DATE THAT RESOURCE!

Look at the images below. Each one has been taken from the same coursebook. Your challenge is to guess the year of publication. Ready? Go…


That activity was not a slight on the resource (Sprint 2). The book is actually full of good units, well structured and certainly usable (in my context, at least). However, the book’s editors on this occasion seemed not to pay attention to future-proofing the resource.

It might surprise you (it did me…) that the book was ‘first reprinted’ in 2017. Big Brother, David Beckham, DVDs… I actually went for 2005 at first, then 2010 as it had a Interactive (Hadkins et al, CUP) feel about it. Some of the content may have been repurposed from an earlier book, or perhaps the book was ‘updated’ but without attention to detail. However the content came about, it seems it hasn’t aged well.


Find a recently published coursebook. Skim through part of the book. Find any content you feel may not be future-proof. To help you, you might wish to consider these points:

  • Skim the contents section of the book – can you see any units you think would be hard to future-proof?
  • Is it important or not that real-life figures in resources (actors, sports stars, etc) are ‘current’?
  • Images can clearly seem dated at times. What about ideas or attitudes?
  • How might culturally-specific content age a resource?
  • Could you date a resource based on the methodology underpinning it? What implications might that have, if any?

Note down any non-future-proof content you find. Then try to group/categorise your findings. E.g. ‘content related to tech’, ‘bit of an old world view’, etc. You define your own groups!


Create your own future-proofing document to refer to when writing materials. The way you do this is up to you, but ideas include…

  • Make a simple bullet-pointed list of ‘things to avoid’
  • Make a table, like this one:
Things that make a resource date quicklyThings I could probably get away with, but might need to run past an editorTimeless topics
  • Gather your own snippets from coursebooks of aged resources, and make your own collage to display around your workspace as a visual reminder to future-proof (HAHA)
  • Ask your students how they feel about the class resources, and get their feedback on how ‘current’ they feel the resources are. You could do this more rigorously through a questionnaire etc. It would make for a good classroom activity that could also explore representing realities…?
  • Just… have a think about it.

Categories: General, materials writing, teacher development

Tags: , , , , ,

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