A Teacherpreneur is the person that Bill Gates referred to at the University of Washington’s School of Computer Science and Engineering in October 2010 when he said:
“Five years from now on the web … you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world and it will be better than any single university”.
While many of these ‘best lecturers’ will no doubt come from those now engaged in educational instructions, a great many more of them will simply come from the ranks of those ordinary people with conceptualized knowledge and ability who can convert what they know into a meaningful learning process that can attract a learner following.
So a Teacherpreneur is any person on the planet who has the passion, skill and knowledge to turn the platform innovations of the internet into equally innovative learning processes for the learner-hungry people of the planet. As a consequence of effectively delivering on this undertaking, Teacherpreneurs will be personally rewarded both artistically and monetarily as they marshal resources to greatly benefit learners and give an income stream for themselves.
Teacherpreneurs are people who collectively represent the single largest untapped gold mine of knowledge in the world – conceptualized human intellectual capital buried deep in the minds of people with know-how, contextual ability, a broad-based cross-disciplined education, unique experiences, a highly developed intuition, original thoughts and uncommon knowledge.
Teacherpreneurs are people who may have previously been excluded from contributing to the learning process in the old educational model due to the lack of endorsement by the ruling academic élite but who now realize that they can share their intellectual capital with the world via the innovative and open learning platforms of the internet.
Teacherpreneurs are the learning innovators who are developing expansive learning transfer processes for the learner-hungry people by circumventing the barriers built up by the centuries-old, introspective and outdated ‘industrial-age’ education system. Teacherpreneurs are innovative knowledge plumbers who are connecting a life-giving resource to the knowledge-starved people of the planet.
While profit is an inevitable outcome for the Teacherpreneur it is not necessarily the primary motive. The primary motive is to; ‘right a terrible wrong’ where a previous model has lost its way; to leverage technological innovations that can deliver learning products to clients for a fraction of the cost of the existing model; to free themselves from the shackles of compliance and focus rather on satisfying learner needs. In the pursuit of these primary motives, the Teacherpreneur invariably receives the financial rewards from the grateful beneficiaries.
“According to Lawrence Cremin, a historian of American schools, “Virtually anyone who could command a clientele could conduct classes…Anyone could teach and anyone could learn — and the market, rather than the church or the legislature, governed through many types of contractual relationships.” It was this interplay of opportunities that created the resourcefulness, the industry, and the ingenuity that President John Adams associated with New England town and which dazzled the world” – A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling – John Taylor Gatto
The need for Teacherpreneurs
The exponential growth of internet knowledge has gone beyond the tipping point. However, super abundant knowledge without structure, fit and context is next to useless. The world now needs a vast army of Teacherpreneurs to take that knowledge and coupled with their own, turn it into meaningful, conceptualized learning that creates value-adding skills for the learner.
We stand at the cusp of a new age that is ushering in a paradigm shift in learning. Just as the agrarian society gave way to the industrial age, so now the outdated industrial-age education system must inevitably give way to the new learning paradigms and participants of the evolving global information age. The new age will be led by the passionate teachers, trainers and skill sharers who will be drawn to it from all walks of life.
Our industrial-age model of education has built the learning barriers of high cost, inaccessibility and lack of timeliness. Yet on the other side of those barriers are at a minimum the 5,000,000,000 knowledge-starved learners who will connect to the internet for the first time in the next 5 years. Add to this the current economically challenged learners everywhere and you see the pent-up demand for highly affordable learning that will relegate as irrelevant educational institutions that fail to bring down those barriers.
Teacherpreneurs with the skill to convert what they know into digital products a fraction of the cost of the old model, stand ready to meet this market by providing current conceptualized value-adding skilling solutions to these learners. These Teacherpreneurs are not so much targeting the already education-engorged Western clientele but rather the previously excluded but learner-hungry people of the world’s developing countries like China with over 350 million people learning English.
The internet is democratizing everything. Teaching will be no exception. As a teacher myself I have come to accept that a time is now when anyone given the tools of teaching will be free to teach what they know. The qualifications for a teacher in the future will simply be any person who the learner-hungry world consider is providing value-adding skills that are relevant to the learner’s needs.
While Gutenberg’s printing press made learners of us all in the last great renaissance period, the internet will make teachers of us all in the neo-renaissance period that awaits. The internet has the potential in 21st century to both usher in another golden age of enlightenment as well as make irrelevant the old educational paradigms that by ignorance or inherent design have failed to morph and embrace the new.
I believe that once released from the shackles of the current model, education in the hands of the Teacherpreneur, will become an industry to rival all others on the planet. Learning is a product that everyone on the planet needs, they need it everyday of their life, it is highly valued and it can be manufactured and delivered to a global audience at a cost approaching zero. From an entrepreneurial point of view, there surly can be no greater attributes for a commercially successful product.
The Teacherpreneur sees change in education. Massive change. Change capable of ‘creatively destroying’ outdated educational models as it creates entrepreneurial opportunities in a new model for which so few of the existing players have prepared themselves.
What the Teacherpreneur sees.
- Teacherpreneurs see the tsunami of change that the internet is bringing to formal education and have taken a position at the forefront of that change to exploit the opportunities that will abound when the inevitable surge reaches its ultimate destination.
- Teacherpreneurs see that it is not the government educational policy makers, the educational institution administrators, nor the certifiers and auditors that the learner-hungry people want – it’s them, the Teacherpreneur that these learners want.
- Teacherpreneurs see an education system corrupted by the gross waste of public money spent in areas irrelevant to teaching and learning.
- Teacherpreneurs see the current failure of our education system that prepares students for an age that has past. They see the Adam Smith (1776) inspired concept of the ‘industrialized specialist’ failing the graduates of today who are left with no option but to take lower paid work in fields unrelated to their study.
- Teacherpreneurs see the internet as a level playing field that invites the world to take part and compete on equal terms regardless of their place, academic station or cultural background.
- Teacherpreneurs see the inefficiency of the centralised institution now that we can learn on-the-job, because the world’s best knowledge resource will be available at our fingertips … literally … with the mobile phone connected to the internet and connected to the ‘best contextualized knowledge in the world’.
- Teacherpreneurs see above all else, that the global information age will reward problem solving abilities, critical thinking ability that can discern ‘fact from fiction’, the ability to adapt (un-learn & re-learn), the creative and innovative abilities and the life-long love of learning rather than ‘pieces of paper’ issued from institutions that have detached themselves from the societies they purport to serve.
- Teacherpreneurs see that while the price of learning at 1/100th of the current costs will ‘creatively destroy’ the financial viability of the old educational model, it is more than enough to handsomely reward the new-age Teacherpreneur.
“The internet will deliver context specific, world-class, comprehensive and eminently affordable education to every person on the planet – anytime, anywhere, on topics relevant to their need and at a pace suitable to their learning preference, ability and start-point”
The Teacherpreneur manifesto
- A Teacherpreneur … is free from the shackles of government compliance and free from the politics of over-administered educational institutions and is focused instead on learner needs and wants.
- A Teacherpreneur … loves to teach and ignoring all else, is committed to spending 100% of their energies on what they do best – teach.
- A Teacherpreneur … is a teacher, trainer or skill sharer who realizes that there is a paradigm shift taking place in education and that they are at the very epicenter of that change.
- A Teacherpreneur … knows the answer to the riddle that “The Internet is a solution looking for a problem”, because they know that the problem is our industrial-age education system that rather than fostering learning, has created insurmountable barriers for the learner instead.
- A Teacherpreneur … has the desire to profit from their experience and to develop a business model that can turn the skills and knowledge that they have acquired through experience, into an economically sustainable future for themselves.
- A Teacherpreneur … in the future will not be employed by an educational institution, they will partner with them.
- A Teacherpreneur … will soon have the capacity to earn multiple times the salary of the average teacher today which is why educational institutes will court and encourage Teacherpreneurs to build their products on the educational institution’s platforms
- A Teacherpreneur … rejects the concept that education should be expensive, arduous and time-intensive preferring instead a gap training, cost-effective and time efficient learning option (be it online of off).
- A Teacherpreneur … realizes that the internet and ecommerce is blind to a person’s credentials and ‘pieces of paper’ but will reward handsomely a person’s current skills and application abilities.
- A Teacherpreneur … is not beholding to government funders and policy makers but rather aligns their mantra to truly serve the common good of the community and the current needs of industry.
- A Teacherpreneur … seeks to exploit the gap created by the old educational model which is stuck in the mechanistic, manufacturing and industrial age past and is ignoring the need for the more organic, service based and information-centered future.
Teacher + Entrepreneur = Teacherpreneur!
“Teachers are overworked and underpaid, yet they’re some of the most devoted and caring people you’ll ever meet. It’s a shame that so many have to leave a profession they love to find higher-paying jobs. Unfortunately, the reality is that unless you have another source of income besides your teaching salary, it’s difficult to pay for decent housing, let alone enjoy a few luxuries or pay your child’s college tuition.” Laura Candler
How teacherpreneurs can profit from their experience, passion and Know-how.
The opportunities for teacherpreneurs are going to expand exponentially as more of the learner-hungry world connects to the internet and as tools and platforms are developed on the internet to meet this pent-up demand for learning.
Here are a couple of opportunities that exist already:
- If you are in the US, then you can start your own local SkillShare class sharing and being paid for your special area of expertise.
- If you are an existing teacher then your can sell your teaching resources to other teachers at Teachers Pay Teachers as Laura Candler has done.
- Start an online course at SchooX and give the learning away for free but charge for an accompanying eBook example/activity workbook that you have made available for sale on LuLu. … and that’s just the start.
Open learning is the idea whose time has come, not because I or others declare it so or because we believe it can be marketed as such, but because the global learner community is embracing it at such breakneck speed that they will eventually declare it by overwhelming affirmation and application – The new learning model. Central to that new learning model will be the Teacherpreneur who will profit from their experience, skill and passion!