There was a bit of buzz a couple of months ago when Amazon announced an online marketplace for educational resources. It wasn't a new concept - on the pay side, Teachers Pay Teachers has been around for a while and in terms of free, there are many online resources but they're not necessarily well organized or curated. What was the buzz? Should teachers be charging their peers for class materials or should they be providing them for free.
I was going to blog about it then but never got around to it The other day, someone posted this article which questioned the quality of both free resources and pay ones. The article, based on this report by the Fordham Institute looked at ELA resources. The report also only looked at Teachers Pay Teachers and two free sites - ReadWriteThink and Share My Lesson excluding many other teacher resources that could be, for all we know, better curated and more discoverable. As an aside, I was turned off by the reports referring to their evaluators as "experts" which is a description I personally would question. Still, there's some good fodder for thought.
I'll get to the report in the next post but for now let's tackle the question that started the initial buzz - should teachers be charging each other for materials?
It depends. If you're paid by a school to develop materials they belong to the school. In NY you can take a sabbatical to build a course so anything you build during that time would be DOE property and therefore you couldn't sell it. Same thing if you're being paid off hours to develop materials. The gray area comes when you're lesson planning. Most real planning and development happens outside of school hours. In an typical school day teacher are typically allocated around 40 minutes to do all their planing, grading, and paperwork so realistically most materials as well as planing, paperwork, and grading are done off hours. This being the case, I'm of the belief that those materials belong to the teacher (although I've met some DOE educrats who would disagree).
So, should they sell it? Well, they have every right to. That said, my personal feelings and practice is that if you've developed something for yourself and have not spent extra time or effort to prepare it for others then I think you should make it freely available to your peers. On the other hand, if you spend extra time and effort to make it useful for and usable by others then by all means charge if you'd like.
I'll tackle the report in the next post and we'll look at some of the resources available on the CS side.