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Why teachers should NOT give their work away for free

Why teachers should NOT give their work away for free

About a year ago, I entered the world of instructional design.  As a former teacher, this experience was a real eye-opener.  The design world is far more corporate – we are always considering the bottom line, business need and R.O.I.  The instructional design community is very supportive of one another, there is  sharing that happens – however, there is respect for each other’s expertise.  If I am working on a course and I want another designer to help on a portion of it, I would never expect them to do this work for free, or just give me something for nothing.

Creating school curriculum has much in common with instructional design.  I have written previous posts about selling my curriculum online. Strangely, there are some who criticize teachers for wanting to make money off their work.  Deanna Jump, a Kindergarden teacher, makes about $100,000 a month on teacherspayteachers and has been accused of “selling out”.


This is my response:

1.  Nothing motivates like money

A teacher is more likely to invest time in creating quality material for their classroom if they know they can also earn a profit from it ( I know I was).  In the end, this benefits the students as well.

2.  Not all teachers are equally driven

This is me being very diplomatic.  The truth is, there are a lot of teachers who are totally content teaching the same dull material year after year. They aren’t going to create anything new and it is totally understandable that a teacher who busts their butt doesn’t want to just “give” their work away to these teachers.  However, if these less driven teachers can buy material – then everyone benefits!

3.  The time involved in the design process 

Designing quality material, putting everything together, getting graphics, etc often takes hours.  This time is frequently spent outside of regular work hours.  If you worked overtime in any other job, you would be paid extra.  Teachers are not.  They should be able to earn profits from this work.  I know this issue has been played out in court and we are likely to hear more about it.

4.  It opens the global market and allows access to the best of the best

Like it or not, schools are often structured as “loose confederations of independent contractors, each overseeing his or her own classroom.”  This is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of teachers are teaching subjects they were not trained for (I was a French teacher, ha ha ha).  Using a peer to peer curriculum website provide access into wayyyy more curriculum than would be available just on the school level.  I can find the absolute best resource, with lots of reviews (hence test run in many classrooms) and buy it for 2$.  I personally do not see the problem with this.


As an instructional designer, I am valued for my craft.  As a former teacher, I worked hard to develop the very best curriculum – because it was good for my classroom and it reflected on my abilities and expertise.  I do not believe there is any harm off generating some additional income off my hard work.  In fact, I believe there is only something to be gained.


Photo credit courtesy of:”>Background photograph designed by Pressfoto –