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Playing Catch Up with 11.5 Million Potential Customers

ePals joins the lesson plan sharing marketplace with its new platform and its extensive global network

ePals steps into the lesson plan marketplace this summer with a new platform, Toolsforschool, joining the ranks of the TeachersNotebook.com and the popular TeachersPayTeachers (TpT). ePals' new site will allow teachers to search for, share, and sell lesson plans, similar to its predecessors. However, with the global reach of well established ePals, will Toolsforschool bring sellers and buyers any new opportunities? It just might.

ePals has two things that the others don’t: global customers, and lots of them. Through its free online network, ePals has over 11.5 million users with large followings in both Europe and China, compared to TpT’s 700,000 loyal users and 414,000 TeachersNotebook.com members, mostly focused in the U.S. K-12 market. To teachers interested in selling lesson plans, ePals’ new marketplace mean access to an additional set of buyers and sellers with a larger global focus. However, according to the numbers, Toolsforschools has a lot of catching up to do.


 
 
 
 

 
Date Started
 
# of Users
 
# of Products
 
Total Sales 
TeachersPayTeachers
  4/2006   2.2 million    531,000   $40 million
TeachersNotebook.com   5/2011   414,000   71,000   $1.5 million
Toolsforschool   7/2013   A few 100   2,000   tbd


The ePals Global Community of 11.5 million teachers, students, and parents was the driver behind creating the marketplace. According to ePals vice president Daniel English, the new platform was created after hearing from the ePals community of teachers that there wasn't enough trusted content that addressed 21st century skills like creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. ePals' response was to bring teachers together via this new marketplace. It seems ePals was well positioned to step into the role, as English explained: “We can act as a traditional media company. We have an audience already that is very large, and we can help promote and bring quality content to them.”

For teachers-entrepreneurs like Clint Clark, a 9th grade math teacher at an international high school in Ohio, ePals’ global marketplace and brand name is appealing. Clark has been selling his lesson plans on TpT since 2010. Through the platform, he has been able to sell over 3,200 lessons and make a little money in the process.

When ePals emailed him with an invite to sell his materials on Toolsforschool, Clark said yes. “As an international school we’ve often looked at other resources, and its Global Community is one we’ve considered using,” Clark says. He sees Toolsforschool as well positioned to open new communities of buyers, and for him getting in early mean he can “get a lead on the international market.” With his focus on 21st century skills like cross-curricular collaboration, project-based, and inquiry learning, Clark can use the new marketplace to find new customers in places like India and China.

According to English, the international market is demanding English language content with a specific focus on 21st Century skills. Teachers all over the world are “still thinking about the same things, still asking the same questions, they just have a different name for it, and it’s not necessarily Common Core.” But in hot demand around the world are resources that teach skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Toolsforschools might just be the platform that meets the demand, as they try to pair teachers already sharing great resources with their network of 11.5 million.

Still in its infancy since its launch three weeks ago, Toolsforschool has over 100 sellers in their marketplace and over 15,000 teachers who have visited the site, with most of the initial traffic coming from Australia and Canada. For sellers on the new site, ePals will take a 15 percent bite out of their earnings, with 85 percent going back to teachers. TpT and TeachersNotebook.com watch out, there’s a new game in town.


About the Author

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Christina is a staff writer at EdSurge and a former teacher with experience in high schools in New York City, San Diego, and Shanghai.

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