Education Opinion

Educators Can Bypass the Middle Men for Teaching Content?

August 29, 2008 2 min read

Paul Edelman is a former NYC public school teacher and founder of TeachersPayTeachers.com, a division of Scholastic Inc.

With the launch of TeachersPayTeachers.com (TpT) in April of 2006 the big question was: With all that free stuff out there, will teachers be willing to pay other teachers for their original content? After more than two years, I’m happy to report they are.TpT is an innovator in Educational Publishing 2.0. Like Web 2.0 in general, Educational Publishing 2.0 provides the tools and a platform to everyday people, in this case teachers, so that they have the opportunity to participate in the content marketplace. Our teacher-authors have proven that they can compete on a small scale with Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and even our parent company, Scholastic.

Truth is, it doesn’t make economic sense for ed publishers to publish and market differentiated materials for every subject and topic under the sun, especially when those topics are so quickly shifting and developing and changing everyday. They simply can’t keep pace and wouldn’t get enough of a return on such an investment.

But armies of teachers have this capability. They’re already filling in these enormous gaps and have been for years, out of necessity. The only difference is that with the internet, now there’s a way for teachers to distribute and sell these differentiated and unique teaching materials to other teachers all over the country and world. They can also get to market much faster than our lumbering colleagues. Teacher-Authors on TpT have created and posted units on Eragon and An Inconvenient Truth soon after those movies hit the screens and quickly notched some sales.

Of course, there are other promising user-generated content models out there
competing with and/or complementing our own. We use the financial incentive to motivate teachers to post their stuff and make it available. Curriki.org is aiming to be a Wikipedia of curricula and is tapping into teachers’ desires to freely and
voluntarily contribute in an open source model. OerCommons.org is another one to watch. Education even has its own YouTube-like site called TeacherTube.com that contains user- and teacher-generated educational videos.

These models are just the tip of the iceberg. The three that that I mentioned as well as TpT have appeared in just the past couple of years. Teacher-generated content and how it plays in the marketplace will continue to evolve. In the process, those who benefit most are the ones who deserve it the most, our hard working, underpaid and underappreciated teachers. And amen to that!

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