Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Face Off: Should Teachers Pay Teachers Or Share Freely?

Summer is the time that innovative educators reflect on their practice and begin putting in place plans to make their upcoming year better than ever. The big debate at #ISTE2016 this year is which materials they'll use to do that.  

Sparking this debate is @AmazonEdu's Inspire (click here for early access). Amazon announced yesterday that they would use their familiar marketplace look and feel with a search bar, ratings, and reviews to offer teachers a platform where they can access tens of thousands of lesson plans, worksheets, and other instructional materials just in time for the back to school season this August. 
But what does this mean for the more than 2 million teachers who are already paying other teachers for this type of content on the popular Teachers Pay Teachers website where teachers earn money for the materials they've created for the classroom?

If you are Tom Whitby or Steve Anderson, authors of The Relevant Educator Amazon Inspire is on the right track. In their recent talk at #ISTE2016 they shared that they believe relevant educators don't pay each other they share with each other freely. 
On the other side of the debate are educators like Angela Maiers and Vicki Davis.  They believe that when teachers are compensated, they are motivated to create materials that surpass the quality of anything processed by the textbook industry muddle machine. Angela and Vicki explain that when teachers enter the freelance marketplace they work on their own time to transform what they use for the classroom into quality materials with instructions that can be used in the world.  
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So, what do you think?  Should educators pay each other or share their genius freely?

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Update: It seems it may be a little harder than Amazon anticipated to make teacher materials free on a popular site. The New York Times reports that some of the content was pegged as being for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. As a result it can not be given away freely. Similarly, Teachers Pay Teachers has had ongoing issues of teachers selling works they don’t have to the rights to. It is understandable, that there may be times that sites have material that violates copyright. Both companies are working on an efficient process to identify and remove such content.

Ultimately, as the dust settles and these industries emerge, copyright will become more clear, fall into place, and in the end teachers will win with a more vetted, higher quality of materials where sources are cited and permissions are granted.  
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