The “buying” of knowledge

signed_sealed_delivered_smallThis is a reply I posted to Pearson’s “new” social networking site. Hired guns drumming up business and time of hard working teachers. The post speaks for itself. I’m not against Jeremy Harmer or even Pearson. Just the notion that you can hire people to promote yourself without them explicitly noting they are paid and bought. End of story… Read on for more ….


Can I be TRULY honest here?

Is your teacher talk time here, paid? And how much do you get paid exactly, to contribute your few paragraphs and enthusiasm? how many are others paid? Shares, dividends, what? What are the ethical boundaries to this “teacher talk time”.

I like your blog. I read it like the bible.  I buy all your books and tell thousands of students to buy your books. See a recent (one of dozens where I recommend) here.

However, this is over the top and definitely too much TTT.   A waste of time and I’m only participating to tell you that it is a waste of your own and anyone elses. Big publishers late in the game, buying their way into  “community” is disgusting. They should have been on it and at it years ago like I was – if they had any real interest other than profit. This is “pandering” and commercialism at its worst. Get the teachers here and sell. Is that what ELT has boiled down to?

I quit my job teaching grad school this week after a big conversation with the dean. She questioned me about my classes after never even having visited a class all year. There is more to it . But to get to the point – I suggested that my own views on curriculum development were supported by you. She shot that down and said Jeremy Harmer knows nothing about curriculum development. So I let into her politely (as I usually am). Then quit. I believe in that.

I’ll continue believing in you when you stop this souless garble. As someone said to me, “it is like watching my Dad chatting up my girlfriend”. Speak from the heart or not at all.   I have spoken (but held my tongue a lot).

I’ve been promoting, striving, instilling, inspiring teachers from my own heart for many years online. Why have you never dropped by to talk to the thousands that are in my community? Am I not paying?   Where does “teacher” and “teacher online talk time” begin and end?  I say all this with sincerity and the deepest respect.


PS. I’ve copied this and will publish on my own blog so teachers can decide for themselves. (even though “Pearson” won’t even let anyone copy from their page! – fortunately, I’m a technophile and this is not beyond me. But mein gott – isn’t that ridiculous, even making public comments uncopiable / unreproducible??????

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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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5 Responses

  1. Though I don’t feel anywhere near as strongly about this as you do David, I have to admit that I’m not at all fussed on the idea of corporate “social media sites”.

    I remember seeing a link to the thread you commented on when it was initially set up, and thinking “wow! that looks interesting!”… and clicking on the link and discovering that it wasn’t a discussion on a blog at all, but a discussion on a publishing house talk board… and then surfing away, feeling mildly disappointed.

    I’m totally fine with authors who choose to do participate in this kind of thing, and as it seems fairly obvious to me that they have some kind of a vested interest in doing it, I don’t feel whatever they get out of it needs to be explicitly spelt out… I’d just rather they took the discussion out into the real “elt community”, i.e. the blogosphere.


  2. Oh – and one more reservation I have about participating in corporate talkboards I’d forgotten which is probably worth mentioning, just in case anybody had missed this juicy little clause in the sign-up small print:

    “By posting your comments or materials on the Interactive Areas and the Community, you grant us a non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, world-wide licence to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, publish, make available, distribute, include in other works, sub-license and display any content you submit to us in any format now known or later developed. By submitting material you acknowledge that you waive any moral rights you may have in it.”

    Ummm… Sorry, but I don’t think so…!

  3. Dear David,

    I have read your comment at the website (which you have reproduced here).

    I am grateful indeed for kind comments you make about me – and frequently with the comments you leave on my own blog (

    I am entirely clear about the difference between a personal blog (i.e. mine) and a site such as the one Pearson has set up. I have an entirely clear conscience about the relationship I have with Pearson.

    However, since you posted your original comment on that Pearson site I think it is only appropriate that I should reply in detail there – and I urge anyone who has read the comments on this site to come and see what I am about to write!


  4. ddeubel says:


    Thanks for replying here and taking the time to reply at length on Pearson. I will reply there in kind – though if you prefer I’d rather not interrupt your discussion, let me know and I’ll make a blog post about my feelings and knowledge of how companies and social networking operate.

    But first, please accept my apologizes for my rhetorical flair and “heated” response. It is just that I’m very involved in these issues, it is a big part of my life and what I do daily. Second, in no way did I ever think you weren’t sincere in your efforts to help teachers and apologize if I left that impression.

    However, I do remain steadfast that people should not participate in conversations without it being explicit that the person “sharing coffee” is being paid to be there. Those being paid by Pearson to participate in discussions and bring in other members (for a database and content which will be used by Pearson down the road) should not use their “names” but have an icon labeled “staff” or something such.

    I’m dead set against “manufactured community”. People/teachers who are sharing ideas and information need to know the full facts AND have total control / ownership of their own content. I”m all in favor of Pearson setting up a community etc but they shouldn’t be allowed to turn a cafe into a room salon (to use the Korean term).

    There is a gray area between professional and personal. I don’t think we can say we know the difference or others do. We should err on transparency.

    There is a lot more that I could relate about how corporations plan and use content and information provided by innocent members. Sue raises a good point about the terms of service – there are even more serious considerations. Corporations make decisions and close doors. What then to the community? Many others.

    But I’ll write about this and other things some other time in detail. My main point is above and to wit – the public shouldn’t let big entities buy their way into the personal learning networks of hard working teachers. I saw this happening and spoke out. I apologize if you were caught in the middle (but was probably speaking passionately because it was you.).

    Thanks and I will write more about this and other ethical considerations based on my own social networking experiences in ELT soon.


  5. ddeubel says:


    Thanks for the response. I’m late replying after a full day of travel and 6 hours of workshops….. happy to be home.

    Your point is valid and I’m really concerned how corporations can use our own words/knowledge to build their brand and yes – even make books! Be warned, in the future, publishers will use our conversations and words as their own to document and publish books with “teachers voices” components. As the TOS suggest, they think they have total control over our thoughts. They shouldn’t and this is an ethical point about social networks I’ve always shouted out about. If you leave a network, all your data and contributions should go with you. You helped build it and you should be able to unbuild it. That’s how it works on my community.

    Yes, I’m a bit extreme about profit and education. I really benefited from the wide access to knowledge as a poor child. I treasure that and remain committed to open access and especially public education and freedom of expression/opinion. It gets me in trouble many times, the extremes, but that is just me.

    Thanks for your comments,


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