“An eBay for educators”

Here‘s a news report on TeachersPayTeachers.com, where teachers post their course materials and other teachers buy them. Here’s a blurb from the site:

[N]ow we can harness the internet’s strengths in order to bypass the educational publishing conglomerates and help ourselves. Here, we will pay each other for our teaching materials and evaluate one another’s work with ratings and comments.

* As sellers, creative teachers will get credit and income for their ideas.
* As buyers, teachers will save huge amounts of time and use the best teacher-created, teacher-tested practical materials available.

And the real winners will be our students. They deserve what our best can create — you can post and find it here. Teachers paying teachers, an idea whose time has come.

I think the idea of posting course materials and subjecting them to ratings and comments from other teachers is good. It’s what should go on among the faculty within a school or university, and it’s a process that improves in a better-than-linear way the more people participate.

However, I’m not exactly sure how the proprietors of this web site intend to make it profitable in the long term, when there are already some really good sites out there (here’s a few math sites I’ve collected) that have excellent course materials available for free — not to mention an inclination I perceive among educators to share and share alike when it comes to their materials. Will teachers (who aren’t exactly rich to begin with) pay a yearly subscription to access course materials that might be pretty good — but which might also be bad, or not applicable to the kinds of courses or students they teach — when they can just surf the web and ask other teachers? Time will tell, but I’m skeptical.

(I also strongly believe that course materials and textbooks ought to be, and want to be, free — free as in beer, and free as in freedom. But that’s another post…)

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