Teachers Helping Teachers

Marc Perry’s post “The Real Revolution is Openness, Clay Shirky Tells Tech Leaders,” on Wired Campus Blog, discusses key points from Clay Shirky’s speech at this year’s Educause conference.  Perry describes Shirky as one of the country’s most prominent Internet thinkers, and notes that the big theme of Shirky’s talk was openness.

The term openness in the digital realm can mean one of many things, such as open access courses known as MOOC’s, open source formats for files that make them accessible with multiple programs, or openness in regards to interdisciplinary collaboration, the topic of October’s Provisions Session.

A memorable quote Perry pulls from Shirky’s speech was his advice offered to people interested in experimenting with openness: “Do not put together an interdisciplinary team from 12 departments and give them a budget of a quarter of a million dollars, and a year and a half deadline. Find five people and ask them what can you do in a month—for free. I think the results will surprise you.”

Shirky’s comment resonated with me; teachers helping teachers (learners helping learners), right?  Thinking about what Shirky said, I was brought back to an article I had recently read on pressconnects.com called “Teacher’s Helping Teachers… and making a profit,” by Donna Gordon Blankinship, subtitled “Entrepreneurial educators earn extra money by selling learning aids to colleagues.”  The article references sites like teacherspayteachers.com where teachers are making extra money “providing materials to their cash-strapped and time-limited colleagues.”  This may be teachers supporting other teachers, but it’s in reference to their income, bringing it back to Shirky’s comment above: what can be created together in a short amount of time and for free?  Are teachers wrong for trying to make a little extra money with their own ideas rather than turning to sites like sharemylesson.com, readwritethink.org, or a host of other sites where they can share their great ideas with their peers for free?

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