You can find anything, learn anything you want on the Web, so the adage goes. But the vast resources that are at our disposal now don't necessarily make it all that easy for teachers to be able to build their lesson plans. It's hard to wade through websites and find the right video, the right activity, the right presentation. And so teachers continue to turn to one another for suggestions and ideas: what's the best video on mitosis? What's a good group activity on the Oregon Trail? Does anyone have a template for a back-to-school night handout?
Currix is launching its beta today, aiming to become a destination for teachers to discover just these sorts of resources. It's also a marketplace for this content: teachers will be able to monetize the lessons, activities, logos and more that they upload there. The prices range from free to a few dollars for activities to up to several hundred dollars for entire courses.
The idea of teachers selling their lessons online isn't new. Nor is it without controversy. A story in The New York Times several years ago suggested that by participating in this sort of entrepreneurial activity, teachers were cheapening and undermining what teachers do. "Teachers swapping ideas with one another, that's a great thing, said NYU professor Joseph McDonald. But somebody asking 75 cents for a word puzzle reduces the power of the learning community and is ultimately destructive to the profession."
But Currix founder Ann-Caryn Cleveland dismisses this idea: "Everybody buys textbooks," she says. So why is it wrong when teachers buy and sell curriculum to supplement their lesson plans? She points the the amount of money that teachers spent out of their own pockets last year -- some $3.5 billion for instructional materials -- and asks why teachers shouldn't be able to support one another with these sorts of expenditures.
Currix isn't the only startup providing these sorts of services. We Are Teachers is one example. And Teachers Pay Teachers, which earlier this year touted paying out over $1 million to teachers, is another.
Like Teachers Pay Teachers, Currix is founded by a teacher (Cleveland teaches film) who realized that it needs to be much much easier for educators -- at the K-12 and at the college level -- to find classroom materials online, but also recognizes that the effort that is put into developing these activities should be rewarded. In order to maintain high quality resources on the site, Currix reviews the applications of those wanting to post materials to the site and is quite stringent about those materials meeting learning objectives. There's also a mechanism by which those on the site can leave feedback about the materials, and all the resources that are purchased via Currix remain available via the cloud.
And a bonus plug here for the Project of the Month on Currix: it's a $25 guide to help getting a technology club started at your school, written by Mary Beth Hertz (@mbteach), who's currently raising money to start a robotics club for girls at her school. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the guide go to support those very efforts.