TES Online Marketplace for Teacher Materials Opens

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TES Online Marketplace for Teacher Materials Opens

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Aug 20, 2015

TES Online Marketplace for Teacher Materials Opens
Opening page for the TES marketplace for education materials

Rob Grimshaw thinks teachers should have a lot of choice in the materials they use in class. A lot of choice.

Grimshaw runs TES, one of Britain's largest education resource companies. TES boasts 7.3 million registered teacher-users worldwide; it's big in Australia, as well as other countries in Europe and Asia. Now as Grimshaw sees it, TES is trying to pave a trail between teachers in the US and their counterparts throughout the rest of the world by offering up materials from educators around the globe on his new marketplace for resources, TES.com. The site opens up to US educators today; a UK version debuted earlier this year. An Australian rollout is expected in early 2016.

Sharing resources isn't new for TES. It offers more than 800,000 resources used by teachers around the globe.

Until this past spring, all those materials were free. In April, UK teachers got the chance to offer their resources for sale. Now TES downloads in the UK are half free materials -- and half paid materials, Grimshaw says.

In the US, TES had worked closely with the American Federation of Teachers to run the free site, ShareMyLesson.

In June, TES turned over ShareMyLesson fully to the AFT. What had changed is that TES decided to let teachers earn some money from their materials. Grimshaw hopes the company will do well, too: in the UK, TES takes a 20% (of the purchase price) fee from sellers for the materials.

But TES doesn't command quite the same attention in the US. And it will have to work hard to catch up with the enormous collection of resources available on the dominant existing marketplace for teacher materials, marketplace, TeachersPayTeachers. To gain momentum, Grimshaw says TES will take no fee on content sold in the US marketplace--at least for now.

"We want to move at speed and we're conscious this is a new proposition," he says. "So we feel we want to do something special for the US market."

Plenty of American teachers who want to earn money from the resources they've created have used TeachersPayTeachers. And TPT has been growing: The site asserts that teachers have collectively earned more than $150 million by selling materials via TPT. It claims more than 5.5 million reigstered users.

In addition to making sales a bit sweeter for teachers who sell by charging no commission, TES has been working on ways to attract more buyers. For that, Grimshaw is counting on Blendspace, a startup that TES acquired more than a year ago. Blendspace lets teachers mix and match various digital resources while acting like a lightweight framework (or content management system) for discrete chunks of content. "We want to make the task of preparing lessons a lot more straightforward," Grimshaw says.

Blendspace helps: Teachers can drop digital assets--the kind available on the web for free or those for sale on the TES platform--into the Blendspace framework--and then share that framework with students. Blendspace helps keep teachers organized but it makes no claim to being the framework to unit everything. Embedded assessments are simple and "driven by individual teachers. We don't aspire to be an organization that's deep into testing and assessment," Grimshaw maintains.

"We're here to support teachers and allow them to use their expertise to deliver a part of the curriculum. We think markets [like TES] mean that teachers have more ability to control their own destiny, to be involved with the creation of materials. And that's a special thing."

Editor's update: TPT says that teachers have earned more than $150 million by using its site and it has 5.5 million registered users.

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