Education online – not Online education! Don’t be duped.

duped-educators-400x365 Anyone whose read a little of my stuff (and fluff too), throughout the years knows with a capital “K” that I’m an ardent supporter of education being free of influence and especially profit. Be that a school where our young go each day or be it twitter or any site or social network.

However, human nature being what it is, can be duped. The ego is a tremendously weak link (but I acknowledge its strength too) when it comes to throwing ourselves into things that might parade “our” cause.

What am I getting at?

Well, recently David Truss wrote about the plethora of sites offering “badges” and “free promotion”. Pandering to the lowest common denominator of online teachers – promotion. Read his post, I won’t repeat things here nor my own and others comments therein. However, I do want to expound a little further on one of the biggest “dupers”.

First some honest self-reflection. I AM GUILTY! I have participated too much in my own share of ego boosting, get me a badge contests! If only half of that energy had gone towards teaching and educating others online! And I’ll tell you this much – when I see a contest or a list from some entity – I too can’t resist. I shake and quiver with the thought that I’ll be discovered, I’ll be read. I’ll be the next flavor on the ice cream truck of educational technology!!!!!!

So there, it is out of the closet and I’m working hard now to just keep doing the small things I do. Avoid that puffery and vanity. I can’t promise I won’t regress but I’m trying and part of that is “coming clean” here. I’ve been duped! (and I’m not going to take it anymore!)

So now the specifics and let me know what you think? What is the ethical line?

Onlineuniversities and Smart undoubtably drives traffic to their sites by sending out a plethora of “Top X, Y and Z” lists. They even get others to do their “dirty” educational marketing on other blogs. Yes, some of the lists are interesting but they ARE NOT from committed and informed professionals. They are a marketing tool, clear and simple.They get paid and helping educators is a sideline, an ignoble one.

Just today, I got an email from them, asking to promote and post on EFL Classroom 2.0. I politely said, “Great idea”. I will make a blog post shortly in promotion. I will send them this link. Here’s the pitch…. incessant and not in the spirit of education – in the spirit, mean spirit of profit.


I know this email is out of the blue, but I just posted an article on my blog entitled “50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom” at . Anyway I figured I’d bring it to your attention in case you thought it interesting enough to drop a quick mention on your site about it as I’m trying to increase readership of my blog.

Either way, hope you have a good week.


Now you may ask yourself, if I dislike this so much, why am I linking to them and actually giving them EVEN MORE promotion? Good question.  My thinking is that you be the judge. I’m not here to control but I will voice my opinion and try to win you over. I also think that once you look at the facts, you’ll see my side of things.

Why are onlineuniversities and other sites (probably even worse – Smart ) that dupe, so bad? Well, they undermine the dedicated professionals (I could list so many! Shelly Terrell and Larry Ferlazzo are two who immediately always cross my ELT radar) who take the time and energy to share their vast knowledge and experience. How will we ever find the right answers when the netiverse is flooded with this crap? (yes, I’ll say it again: CRAP).

Or how can my own TOP 100 Youtube videos list (many linked to their youtube equivalent on EFL 2.0) ever hope to compete with the likes of their intensely promoted lists? I vouch that mine is well researched, made from videos I’ve actually used and watched. Probably took my a few days to make and many more to “experience”.

But yet others promote. Go figure. They get tweeted around like the second coming or a UFO siting. And it is disturbing. So I’m doing my part to keep education clean of any motive other than creating/knowing and learning. That’s the future I hope for and let’s keep our house halfway tidy.

Please repeat after me: “I will not be duped.” Take the oath and stick to it. Thank you.

I won’t even get in to the ethics of some ELT professionals tweeting and name dropping one “new” publishers social networking site. Doing so and contributing there and being paid for it and NOT telling others that they are paid to “do the dirty work” and promote. No, I’ll leave that one alone.

But I’ll end with Eminem (thank you Karenne S. again), to reinforce my message and stance.

Find more videos like this on EFL CLASSROOM 2.0

If you liked this post – you might enjoy my contentious thoughts about twitter and the ethical use of it. Twitter – Love it / Hate it

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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7 Responses

  1. David Truss says:

    I’ve received similar emails and in fact have even been offered $50 for ‘a simple text link’ on one of my posts. Thanks but no thanks! I used to respond to these, now I just ignore them, not wanting to declare my email address to them, (most of these come through my blog’s contact form.)

    The most recent ‘Award’ that inspired my post was offered by eCollegeFinder and that name is what raised the red flag for me. What I’m surprised about is the number of educators that I truly respect who have ‘advertised’ these sites by wearing the badges in their blog sidebars. The benefit to the award’s site is huge as they end up with a link on EVERY blog page when you add them to your sidebar.

    Anyway, the reality is that we all, as bloggers and thus ultimately writers, want to have our audiences grow, and there is nothing wrong with that… but if we are going to promote students being savvy online, shouldn’t we too be held accountable for how we promote vs pander ourselves?

  2. ddeubel says:


    As always well said!

    Much better than my ramble but I wanted to say something, its been on my mind. Exactly for the reasons you relate – that so many educators do get “duped”.

    thanks for dropping by….

  3. Guys,

    There is worse ahead…

    I have a post I’ve been trying to write about something I know about but for very many reasons I need to be careful about it -let me tell you “obviously-out-there” promoting and begging for badges doesn’t barely scratch the ethics problems we edu-bloggers are facing as our sites grow and those who’d like to ride that, increase.

    More later, in a few weeks, once I get some other stuff out the way and have had a good chance to think that post through.


  4. Thanks for the mention! To be honest, though, I’ve been duped by these before. Someone explained to me that one link I tweeted was a website that made money through people that visited their website. I am not sure how this dynamic works and I haven’t put any badges up so that is a good thing. However, I have had companies write me about their product and bring it to my attention like your email states above. If the product is free and a great tool then I don’t mind writing a review about it. I just don’t like to be harassed about it if I choose not to do this. Let me warn you that it isn’t always a top company. Once I had a person who offered free materials through their website who kept harassing me for weeks to share the website. Usually I don’t share one tool in my blog, though. Usually, I add them to a category of tools for a certain purpose so it’s not like I’m advertising one tool but showing many options for readers. Sometimes these companies forget we don’t get paid but as bloggers become more aware and refuse to publish their materials then the companies are finding other ways to dupe us.

  5. ddeubel says:

    Shelly and Karenne,

    Thanks for adding to the discussion. You both kind of point towards and illuminate a “coming” problem. More and more of these “companies” are realizing the value of the online market and they want to take the easy road to getting their product noticed. But they will do so in more sly and subtle ways than we can image. As Karenne alludes, it will only get worse.

    I thank any educator contributing to this discussion because awareness is half of the battle. It is valuable, so valuable to have REAL teachers giving hard worked and heartfelt advice and sharing know how. We don’t need this diluted by some who would “dupe”. This ranges from paying other educators to “soft sell” , to making half hearted lists and parading it as knowledge – to the very obvious stealing of content and listing it on their own quasi blogs as “updates”.

    Let’s remain true to our intentions….


  6. Alex Case says:

    I hardly ever get those, either I’ve scared them all off or they have no idea my blog exists! I do get similar sites offering guest pieces, and my policy is that if the guest piece is by someone I don’t know and links somewhere I don’t want people to go or is irrelevant, I just say no. To anyone else, I say the more guest pieces the better because that way I get to catch up on my sleep and spend time with my family!

  7. ddeubel says:


    what about making a guest badge!

    About “guest” blogging. I really see this as a great development. I’d really love to see a blog with 5-6 quality teachers blogging regularly at scheduled times. So that there is some predictable content. Even better if they were from different grades/levels/environments/continents…. maybe a challenge to someone?

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