There’s an explosion of content widely available through online channels to address a broad range of interests, vocations, and avocations, and teaching is no exception. One new trend that is emerging hold promises to boost innovation—and income—for teachers.
Online marketplaces provide an opportunity for teachers to be entrepreneurial, offer low-cost assets to peers, and, if they choose, let teachers potentially make some money in the process. Here’s how the peer-to-peer economy is impacting education.
What Are Online Marketplaces?
When it comes to brainstorming ways to engage students, while ensuring that this engagement leads to learning, teachers are creative, but also often challenged. There just isn’t enough time in a day. So increasingly, new ideas are coming from online marketplaces.
Online marketplaces are really not new, but they’ve garnered increasing attention over the past few years. A national survey by the Education Week Research Center provides one answer why, as it showed that teachers were skeptical of publishers’ claims that their materials aligned with the Common Core and would have more faith in those produced by fellow teachers. While only four in 10 in the survey said they trust the publishing industry, nearly nine in 10 trusted other teachers.
One online marketplace, Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT), provides a forum for teachers to share and find resources ranging from classroom decorations to activities, assessments, presentation templates, and much more. TpT has over 3.5 million active users and boasts 1.8 million resources. Some resources are available at no cost, while others are available for a minimal fee.
According to EdSurge, “teachers have earned more than $175 million of materials on TpT since its launch in 2006. The platform is the first and the most widely used marketplace for teachers. The most famous seller is Deanna Jump, who in 2012 was the first TpT millionaire.”
There are a growing number of sites like TpT. They are similar but have their unique distinctions in terms of the type and quality of materials available, costs for accessing those materials, ways payments are made and received, and so on. In addition to monetary reward, teachers who use these sites often establish themselves as thought leaders, generating invitations to share their insights with others through conferences and other means.
What Are the Top Marketplaces?
Along with TpT, TES Global and Teacher’s Notebook are widely popular with teachers. TES Global boasts an impressive 7.6 million users and has 1.2 million resources available from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Teacher’s Notebook is used by 2.8 million people and offers weekly specials on its 150,000 resources.
Educents, Edmodo, and Educlipper are smaller marketplaces, with Educents, a strong choice among homeschoolers including materials through college level, having 350,000 users. Educlipper is comparable to Educents in number of users, but it boasts 500,000 resources compared to Educents’ 15,000. Edmodo is unique because it is an integrated education network and marketplace so that educators can teach and shop through the same platform.
Teachwise is the smallest of these marketplaces, with only 8,000 users. However, it offers a flat fee of $7.99 per month for unlimited downloads of resources.
Additionally, more traditional sources of educational materials are taking note of this trend. Most recently, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced that it would launch a marketplace for educators and developers.
What Are the Potential Issues?
For buyers, two major issues surrounding online marketplaces are the quality of the products and the content and legality of sales. The quality of the resources differs based on the teacher who produced the content. However, many marketplaces offer rating systems for users to assist in quality control.
Copyright and intellectual property law for such marketplaces has a finer distinction. The National Education Association says that if teachers are assigned copyright ownership of their classroom materials in their employee contracts, then there is no issue, but if the resources are deemed “works for hire,” then they are owned by the school.
For sellers, ensuring compliance both with school system and district policies as well as others’ rights to their content without infringement can present many legal questions. Also, the logistics of order processing and customer service, like returns and complaints, can create additional work. Another issue is increasing competition as more teachers upload content to these marketplaces.
Takeaway: Whether sharing simply to bring your great ideas to others, or to make some extra cash, online education marketplaces offer a source of information and ideas, and potentially revenue, for teachers at all levels. As more platforms emerge and legacy organizations like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt get into the mix, we will see an increase in available resources and marketplaces.
1. “A Marketplace for Teachers to Sell, Share and Shine” EdSurge. November 18, 2015.
2. “Teachers Become Entrepreneurs by Selling Classroom Materials Online” EdSource. September 14, 2015.
3. “Legal Controversy Over Lesson Plans” National Education Association. January 2010..
4. “K-12 Teacher Resource Marketplaces” EdSurge. N.d.
5. “Edmodo Launches New Marketplace for Learning Resources” THE Journal. June 30, 2015.