Over on Twitter the debate continues about the new Share My Lesson (SML) site. Ed Tech expert Doug Levin offers a harsh judgement here. I think the Twitter discussion is a little confused (140 characters, go figure) so let me try to clear it up from where I sit.
I don’t have a dog in this fight and think that considering how hard it has been for most peer-to-peer teacher sites to get traction and regular ongoing usage it’s good to see multiple ideas out there. And this one apparently does well in the U.K. Let the market see what works and what teachers, schools, and school districts prefer. The various providers all have different angles on this, brand, profit, and social networking, for instance, so I’m happy to see SML on the scene and competing. But at a micro level depending on how much value a teacher perceives in what they’ve created and how they think about things like disseminating their idea and getting it out there versus profiting from it there are clearly advantages and disadvantages to the different approaches from their individual standpoint. That’s the key takeaway.
As a practical matter most of this stuff does not have enormous commercial potential. The $700K kindergarten teacher is interesting but rare, although perhaps somewhat less so as platforms like Teachers Pay Teachers move from peer-to-peer to selling into school districts and schools with licenses. And, of course, some people would like to see their ideas spread more than they care about making money from them. As in all businesses people will approach with different motivations – eg make money, make an impact, try to do both.
But some content is valuable from a financial standpoint – in a few cases very valuable. That’s why the bottom line here is not that any one of these approaches is inherently better than another or more proven at this point, but, again, rather that teachers should understand what they are and are not giving away when they participate in different platforms because there are tradeoffs and in a few cases probably big ones depending on the choices individual teachers make for themselves. If you think you’re sitting on a goldmine you probably don’t want to give away the rights to it without being compensated even if the site you’re giving it to carries your union’s brand on it.