What does free mean?

Free, in terms of this blog, means giving away knowledge. I’m quite comfortable with that, because I think the return I get is worth it. The return is not monetary, it’s a return measured by connections and personal growth. But I have to admit to thinking thoughts that are monetary in nature. I’ve realised I have accumulated a considerable amount of knowledge, and that knowledge is now probably worth something in the world beyond teaching.

Over the course of the year I’ve found myself in conversation with people outside the field of education and many of them are fascinated by the skills I’ve acquired. They can see how they are applicable to the business world they inhabit. I’ve shown parents the ning environment we’ve created for Year 9 and you can see the lights switching on in the heads of some parents associated with business. One man quizzed me at length and was going to home to check it out to see how he could apply it to his work situation. I have a relation who can’t believe I’m not exploiting this environment and incorporating ads and the like on this blog.

I’m not doing that because credibility means something to me. Monetising this blog seems to me to be a corruption of the intentions behind it. I suppose it’s because being a teacher is one of those jobs where you are putting others before you; your intentions are to disemminate information and help others. Chris Betcher has written a post recently about the requests he’s been receiving from authors, online companies etc. to promote their wares by linking to them or discussing what they do in a post. I get those requests too; I just ignore them and don’t reply.

Right now, I think it’s vitally important that we as teachers prepare the students we teach adequately for the world of work they will be inhabiting. This world of work is starting to use the tools we are exploring in classrooms. I want my own kids prepared and I want the teachers who have them in their care to be on top of new ways of doing things. So I’ll keep sharing my knowlege and hope it makes a dent in the thinking of others.

But that doesn’t mean monetising my knowledge hasn’t crossed my mind and will no doubt continue to do so. It’s a given that investing time learning, in the time you spend away from work, has it’s costs. Just ask any family member living with a hyper connected blogger. Free means time away from loved ones, and maybe they are costs worthy of reimbursement.

5 Replies to “What does free mean?”

  1. Jenny, you’ve raised some really important points! Yes, we bloggers and evangelists do contribute a lot of our own time to advancing our knowledge and supporting others as we go. Monetising is something pro-bloggers do very well indeed – but not here at wordpress (you’d need to switch to another blogging platform). But teachers have always been generous with their time – that’s what makes us teachers I guess! The next step will be a career change perhaps? Anyway, have a great Christmas and enjoy your school holidays. Cheers, Judy

  2. I totally agree with you; teaching is a ‘sharing and caring’ profession. I don’t like the idea of placing a $ value on our knowledge. However, when you see the state of our library budget and school deficit, it does make you think!

  3. That’s okay Jenny, I don’t think money is evil, and I’d love to see monetising education become destigmatised.

    The Merspi business plan was rejected after first-round by a judge who thought the idea of Merspi might have been unethical. Apparently business and education don’t mix.

    I think it’s unfortunate. The education sector is probably the one that is most starving for innovation, and what better way to incentivise it than by putting money into the equation?

    I’m not saying it’s the best way, but it shouldn’t be seen as evil. I support whatever endeavour you may take in your own steps to achieve your mini-education revolution 🙂

    1. It’s not about monetising education Colin, that’s not really the issue here… besides, the right deal with the right people, and things could work really well.

      The problem I have with monetising blogs is that it blurs the line between journalism (which is what proper reporters do, and is hopefully based on facts, research and unbiased communication), blogging (which is what we do, and is based on opinions, viewpoint and punditry) and advertising (which is based on spin and a company’s own commercial interest in selling their products). The problem is that these are all competing interests and there is no easy way to resolve the differences between them.

      There are lots of good reasons why education and commerce have an uneasy relationship… those of use who have tried to establish links between the two usually find out that despite business’s claims to be wanting to do the best for education, it nearly always works out that they really only want the best for themselves.

      Even if a blogger did believe in a product and wanted to mention it, if an audience knew that the blogger had some sort of relationship with the company or product, it throws a question mark over the things the blogger says. No one ever really knows whether the things that get said are said because of personal belief or whether it is cash for comment. It ultimately destroys trust until an audience never knows what to think about what they read.

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