January 02, 2007

And the prize for Linkbater of the Year goes to...

Time might win the 2006 prize for best link-bating but in 2007 I wonder how many people in the blogosphere will be trying to get others to do their work for them?

11444661459thumb Stephen Downes hinted that the K12 Conference was, to some degree, aimed at raising the profile of a few individuals more than it was about sharing good practice. I don't think that was the intention at all, even if it appears that way to some. But his words of caution are making me see a more sinister side to the edublogosphere beginning to emerge which makes me feel a little uneasy. Just in the past month I've been called up or emailed around two dozen times expected to offer free advice to people who intend to further their own business (public speaking, promotion of businesses, "how can I make money from blogging"...).

Take Andrew Pass who this morning is starting his own meme (to join this one and that one), but with far more constructive (it seems) aims. My problem is not with the meme: building lesson plans collaboratively might have some merit. My problem is with the reasons behind Andrew starting the meme in the first place. He's an educator, perhaps, but he's also a businessman who, according to his work website makes his lion's share of cash from selling lesson plans and ideas for others.

Add to this the fact that most of us do occasionally share ideas for lessons on our edublogs for free anyway it seems that this monthly meme may serve to create a business profit (for him) with minimal business investment (because we invest for him - is that not what they call a pyramid scheme?).

At $5 a pop per user for a lesson plan from AP Education Services this seems the edublogging equivalent of getting a batch off the back of a lorry.

Am I hitting below the belt here or could AP Education Services go about things another way to endear themselves/himself to the education community while still making a crust? I have nothing against business using weblogs to make money when it's done well and in a way which benefits its users, but something just isn't sitting right with the "something for nothing" expectations of the edublogosphere's businessmen and -women.

Update: Andrew has updated his business plan online and shows how he intends to make a crust and take part in the conversation. His sponsoring and Adsense mix seems to make perfect sense. He's also not going to sell lesson plans anymore, including any from the meme. The lesson for those running businesses in the blogosphere - tell us what you're doing and involve us in it.


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Ewan, I would like to clarify a few things. First, I have no intention of making any money directly from this meme. I will not resell it or anything else of the sort. I've changed my business plan from the link that you included in your blog. I now send out free newsletters and have sponsors support the newsletters. Once again, I have no expectations or ideas as to how I could personally profit directly from this meme.

That said, I certainly hope to get some attention for myself and my organization from this meme. Is this such a bad thing? I'd argue that every blogger hopes to be read and many bloggers hope that when they are rea they'll profit from their work. Certainly there are two types of profit: intrinsic and extrinsic. It feels great that people are reading my work. I think it's very neat that somebody from Scotlad knows what I'm up to, as a person who lives in the U.S. But I also don't think that I should be looked down upon for wanting to put bread on my table. Why do you blog, Ewan? (Why do all of the other educational consultants, who don't receive bi-monthly pay checks automatically blog?)

Now I want to add one more thing. I do financially benefit when people click on the ads on my blog (http://www.Pass-Ed.com/blogger.html) and in my living textbook (http://www.Pass-Ed.com/about.html). But once again, aren't I allowed to eat?

Are you going to tell me that a set of lesson ideas being collaboratively developed over the blogosphere wouldn't be helpful? I challenge you and your readers to add to the lesson prompt, which is written on my blog.

Finally, Ewan, if I get any money directly from this set of lesson ideas, I'll donate it to your favorite charity. (Indeed, maybe we should think together as to how we could get some money from this work and make a contribution to somewhere else.)

Andrew Pass

Hi Andrew,
Thanks for taking the time to clarify things, although it would have been helpful to know about your change of charging policy through your own blog as it happened or on your website - which still hasn't been updated to reflect this. Your new model sounds more equitable and wouldn't make the current meme seem quite so sinister but unless you tell us yourself on your own site how do we know?

If you read the post above, too, Andrew you'll see that I have no objection to people making money from their blogs directly or through work which comes indirectly because of the blog. I've considered Adsense myself but as I blog while being paid by several other employees I see it as double-banking.

If you read the post again you'll also see that I have nothing against collaborative lesson planning (so long as it's a Creative Commons based venture) or giving away things for free (cf. every post I write ;-)

Your final question: Why do you blog, Ewan? It's a great one, and one which I'll go into more detail on in a post. I don't think we need to see blogging as either extrinsically or intrinsically valuable. There are a whole load of greys inbetween which make blogging as an enterprise more tricky than just writing publicly now and then.

Finally, your idea for some charitable edublogging is not a bad one and worth considering. Let's have a 'thunk' about that ;-)


I'm on my way over to my blog right now to write about the change in business plan. We shoud definitely think about setting up some time to skype about raising money for charity online. What works for you?

I don't think your most recent post indicates a change in policy - it still seems that you're charging for lesson plans elsewhere on the site which therefore, IMO, undermines the meme.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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