Our reaction to @TechCrunch ‘s “Death to Gatekeepers in the Publishing Space”


The internet is flattening the world in ways we never could have imagined 10 years ago, and especially for those of us in the publishing and Education arenas.  I was blown away by a recent article by John Biggs that spoke specifically to this evolution where he challenged the monopoly of the “goliaths” with this very simple truth:

“We are, after all, just talking bits shipped to devices and $1,000 made in 1,000 ninety-nine cent increments is the same as $1,000 made in one-hundred $10 increments.”

If we look at ELT publishing specifically, most of the current “standards” for testing one’s English are produced by not-for-profit companies, and I’m certainly not the first to question why they are selling their tests at such a high price if they are “non-profit”, above all as they move onto the internet where if anything prices should be dropping significantly.  And to add to this, let’s not forget that their clients are students and job seekers who need these tests to apply to international schools or get a good job.  I agree 100% with the TechCrunch article… their days are numbered.

In September, Edulang will release another certificate like the ECE (Edulang Certificate of English), however this time – to even the playing ground for students applying to universities abroad – we will have a TOEFL® score equivalence.  This 100% online-from-anywhere test will be pay what you want, and we will invite teachers from all over the world to participate and correct the writing and speaking elements to the test for the compensation they feel they deserve (to be established individually).

I feel another ELT grassroots revolution coming on and I would love to have you on board!


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--- i'm a learner-teacher, language geek, outdoorsy kind-of-guy --- U might miss the next tweet... Wanna subscribe by email ? ;-)
  • Phil Wade

    Sign me up Brad!!

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Aha!  Glad to have you on board, Phil.  Cooking up a digital revolution ;-)

  • Beware

    Your move is interesting, however if left to continue, will destroy the matrix of the education industry.

    If your ideas were applied to all education, I dread to think of what could result. Leaving aside the research that needs to be done and the controls that need to be applied to create a good test, leaving aside the documentation, systems and people that are employed to administer tests (and their need to earn a living), maybe we should also look at teachers. Is your policy also that teachers should work for pay what you want?

    For too long you have masked yourself behind the portrait that you wish to revolutionise the industry, with “pay what you want” however, in reality such a scheme actually earns a company far more than selling at reasonable prices. Simply look at your own “people that have bought our applications counter”. This in itself justifies exactly what I mean. Yet still you pretend to be a saviour and I dare say for many you are.

    What about those teachers, administrators and office staff that work for companies, schools and universities? These will all become affected, their lives and their families, just because you wish to revolutionise education.

    What will your actions lead to? Do you portray that people should not go to schools or teachers, but in fact simply sit one of your 1 dollar courses, following which a 1 dollar test?

    I really wonder what teacher’s of the world would say as schools close and teaching rates become suppressed to non-existence.

    Your blind disappreciation of what goes behind the language industry is really sickening and I see your idea of equivalent TOEIC and soon TOEFL scores as a direct attack on ETS.

    All I can say to teachers is beware! The bread and butter on your plate, gained from your chosen profession is being threatened by the actions of this company. 

  • http://www.testsoup.com/ John at TestSoup

    Totally agree that A) “Not for profit” education companies certainly seem to be charging too much and B) We will see a revolution in the coming years about how the education market is serviced online. Very exciting stuff.

  • Beware

    Hi John,

    I can’t comment on whether or not “non profit organisations are charging too much or not”. Nobody should really make that claim unless they have seen the books. Basing such a claim on media, newspapers or articles, no matter how useful it is in class, is really unjustified.

    What is annoying me is the blindness in which the situation is moving. Teachers seem to support teaching aids that cost next to nothing; because it helps students, but those same teachers would not work for next to nothing! …

    This thread does not in anyway consider the important issues of the industry, the people that work within it, nor the teachers that work in it. For every student that uses the Edulang software or tests, there will be a school, teacher or administrator that suffers.

    I suppose the situation would not be so extreme if the term “market value” where used, as this could have a positive affect on both the industry and the students, however such blatent use of pay what you want, and on top of that trying to portray Angels in education is simply not acceptable.

    I also suppose that if pay what you want were actually focused on those economies or countries that really needed help would also be acceptable.

    I am really sorry Edulang, but I see you as a destroyer and not a saviour!!

  • http://www.testsoup.com/ John at TestSoup

    I don’t think EduLang would pretend to be a substitution for a good program taught by a good teacher. I know we don’t claim that. We are simply providers of good, cheap, additional resources.

    I hardly think you can claim that programs like EduLang are the “destroyer” of education. Give me a break. There are much more important issues here.

  • http://www.tmenglish.org/ Stephen

    Your plans for the new tests seem very interesting.  Please bear me in mind when you come to recruit examiners

  • Beware


    and if you have to do the checking for 1 dollar per test? You should be able to get 10 dollars for a day’s work!!


    How about pretending to be a substitution for a good test by a good research company? (remembering the issue of profit or non profit, does not affect the quality of research or company, unless of course you don’t think ETS is a professional company!)

    The more important issues here are “market fair value” and the sustainment of a marketplace where people can work, can make a living and can survive.

    If we simply assume that the Edulang software decreases the sales of education books by 20% worldwide, can you imagine how many people could lose their job, how many suppliers would lose work, and how the meaning of quality would drop? This would also be a great loss to society in a marketplace fairly valued!

    I am sure you would be one of the first to squeal if you had to spend 1 hour working for 1 dollar!! As said, I am not against pay what you want, but only when it applied where needed and does not threaten the marketplace fair value.

  • http://www.testsoup.com/ John at TestSoup

    Don’t pretend to be an economist here, talking about market value, and then worry about how many people could lose their jobs because new businesses can create greater value at lower costs. That kind of inconsistent thinking doesn’t help your case at all.

    More and more, I am beginning to think you are just a shill for a teacher’s union or a big education business.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Interesting comments.  Thanks Beware.

    I think I’m going to side with the comments from 3 non-biased teachers whom I respect and who have openly shared their thoughts on our innovation in the comments here.  

    If we eventually replace companies that have priced their products well over their value, and that have pushed them with marketing campaigns, so be it.  The magic of the 21st century is providing value on the internet to anyone, anytime, and that word-of-mouth can be the channel for spreading information, not huge marketing campaigns.  Lastly, all teachers who use our applications to teach, and those that will be examiners for our tests in September will establish their own prices, not us. Our goal is to provide quality resources that anyone can benefit from, and I’m sorry that you don’t see the generosity that is motivating us, as we give 50% of our proceeds to Room to Read whose aim is to once again support those who would not otherwise have access to Education materials.

    Finally, I wonder what’s really motivating your critique, and not knowing who you are certainly doesn’t help.  Why hide?  Either way, I just ask that you respect the other commentators here a bit more.  I will not tolerate anymore sharp remarks, especially someone not sharing their identity.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Exactly our thoughts.  Thanks John.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Absolutely Stephen.  We’d love to have you on board as the timing gets closer for feedback on the teacher/examiner section of the application.  I’ll be in touch!  Thanks, Brad

  • http://www.testsoup.com/ John at TestSoup

    Not a problem! I know I don’t post much but I have kept up with your blog ever since we first exchanged messages over Twitter months ago. You run a great program here.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Thanks John.  In light of the my first “troll experience” your timing and kind words are very, very welcome.  Really appreciate it!

  • http://www.testsoup.com/ John at TestSoup

    The bigger and more important you get, the more they’ll come after you.

    We’ll be fighting them off one day too!

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Yep… seems that way!  Thanks again!

  • http://www.tmenglish.org/ Stephen

    Luddite (n) A person opposed to increased industrialisation or technology.

    The arguments Luddites used included very similat ones to those you have used.  You are right of course, some people will lose out as technologies change, but at the same time others will win.  This is not just the case with the internet and ELT, but has been the case for all recorded history.  The trick  is to postion yourself to take advantage of any changes.

    How is ‘market fair value’ decided?  A company (Edulang) demands a certain amount of work provided a  a certain level.  The supplier (me) offers to do the work at a given price.  If the price of the supplier is acceptable to the company demanding the work we agree a contract.  If it isn’t we can negotiate or one or both of us can walk away.  I don’t see how what Edulang is doing changes any of the dynamics of the ‘market fair vaule’ at all.

    And by the way, I think I am worth a bit more than $1 an hour.

  • http://www.tmenglish.org/ Stephen

    Looking forward to it Brad.

    Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  • http://www.tmenglish.org/ Stephen

    In light of your first ‘troll experience’, and the fact that you are a bit of an etymology nerd, I thought you might like this article.


  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    ;-)  cheers!

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    oh, Stephen… you do know my sweet spot!!!! ;-)  Really enjoyed the article.  Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/seburnt Tyson Seburn

    Perhaps if profit goes down for these companies as a result of alternative payment plans, they will not only reduce the cost of their deliverables, but then cut the fat from their sales force or other administrative areas.  The fact that electronic publishing should cause pricing to decrease or quality/quantity to increase just has to be accepted.  It will force redistribution of resources from the paper-based publishing team model to something other.  Change happens.  Personal stories can’t be the cause of keeping jobs that become no longer relevant because of the market. 

    If a different model of delivering effective instruction to a market that wants it emerges (is it distance learning online, for example?  I don’t think so being a distance MA student myself), then a similar shift will necessarily happen amongst teachers also.  Of course, teachers are generally already lowly paid, so cutting them will save quite little for many schools. In any case, it’s all a bit speculative at this point.  Remember Y2K?  That didn’t work out like worry-warts thought.

    Granted, I’m no economist, but just this just makes sense from someone in the ELT industry with some publishing experience.   And you are?

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    [...] that hits it perfectly comes from a TechCrunch article that I mentioned in my blog post “Death to Gatekeepers“. “[The internet] is just bits shipped to devices and $1,000 made in 1,000 ninety-nine cent [...]

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    [...] costs of knowledge are and will continue to drop rapidly (despite the efforts of gatekeepers) due to digitalization and other market factors, but something is rising in counter [...]