Every week or month brings another announcement within the educational tech space of a new player in the “Teacher marketplace” place.
I remember back in the early years online, before all the social media, Web 2.0 craze. It was natural and easy for teachers to share resources and help each other. In my own school board, we’d meet every month and share lesson plans. Our own intranet made it easy for colleagues to upload curriculum and share. My own community EFL Classroom 2.0 drew on that and it was great – every day, dozens if not hundreds of resources shared by enthusiastic teachers and IT WAS ALL FREE. Teachers helping teachers.
But now, the players and money men have moved in. It’s Teachers Pay Teachers Pay Teachers. It’s corporate boardrooms (think TPG now owner of TSL, owner of TES which owns or has 10 mil in Share My Lessons). It’s all a money grab, it’s making education all about the $$$$. Teachers are first asked to share resources freely. Then they are fed a line, a lie – you can make a great income. Don’t share, sell!
I recently got this invite from TES which for the last year or two has been allowing teachers to share their resources (with restrictions). Now they finally show their true colors and plan. Making money. (And read this NYTs article just sent to me from a reader after I first posted this – Teaching Is Not A Business)
That would be great if teachers really did get the money paid for their great work and resources. However, it is far from the case, despite how these sites advertise it as such. I know, I’m active on many of these sites and you’ll not get anything more than 50%. The marketplace gets the other 50%. It varies but that’s the norm. And its unfair. Damn unfair. Teachers should pay teachers and not corporate entities. It’s even sadder given how easy it really is (and cheap) for teachers to now organize online and share. What ever happened to OER (Open Educational Resources)?
I have a lot of experience and a lot of perspective, selling on my own and on other sites, the resources and courses I’ve produced. My conclusion? Teachers shouldn’t pay for resources if they are paying some corporate entity that financially rapes (strong language but that’s what is happening). Imagine if you had a stand somewhere on the street and the city came up to you and said – give me 50% of all you make? You’d probably say, “Why?”. And they’d say, because, because we control the lights and the road and these are our “people”. Pay or you are out. You’d probably revolt but unfortunately nowadays, teachers just bend to the extortion thinking any bit is better than nothing.
And it gets worse. Most of these sites claim that they are “helping” teachers. BS. All they are is creating a culture whereby education is seen as owned and commodified not communal and shared. It’s hard to turn back after everything becomes a store.
Well there is an alternative. Look out for groups that freely share. EFL Classroom 2.0 had hundreds of thousands of resources to download. Even download videos. ELT teachers don’t have to pay. Plus they can share on the community.
But I don’t think this will happen – we’ve been brainwashed and the kind, hopeful days of open sharing during early web 2.0 are over …. and that’s sad.