Hmm… interesting. is an “open marketplace for original educational material” Amazon for teacher lesson-plans. Quality-control? There’s a built-in feedback and ratings system, and a “free taster” that’s intended to lead to a purchase. Cheating? Quite possibly. It’s rather empty at present. It has nothing in ‘Art’ at either school or university level, and what is there doesn’t suggest the site’s owners primed it with quality (oh, look, a ditzy course in ‘Spiritual Emergency & Healing’ — blurgh). The site design doesn’t inspire confidence (compare with MIT’s courseware site). But it’s an interesting concept, one that doubtless others will do better in future. It’s also a useful reminder — at a time when more and more institutions are making a “rights grab” for our brainwork, to add to their own clunky ‘e-learning’ systems — of the potential for creating a long-term income-stream from what we produce for the classroom.

Overall, I’d be more interested in a hypothetical future service that would sell a teacher’s services as a high-value tutored one-to-one online-learning package, whereby a potential leisure student could: work through specialist course materials online; have several one-to-one wideband-enabled video tutorials with the teacher; see online videos of a lecture series; have guided access to quality articles and books via a mature Google Books/Scholar -like service; access to a peer-group of previous students; and have assigments marked by the teacher. Maybe that sort of service will be provided by universities in future, or perhaps the Open University has already moved strongly in that direction. But how much of the profit will the teacher see? The temptation for institutions will be to pay only a basic rate for the time taken in video tutorials and marking, once all the other material is in a fixed form. But as we approach wideband net connections, the potential will be there for consortiums of high-quality teachers to band together online, brand themselves, and cut out the profit-gobbling middleman. What would you pay to take that type of course if it was by, say, Brian Eno on something funky like “Generative Music and Habitat Interactivity”? And if it featured three one-to-one wideband tutorials, with the man himself talking with you?