Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Following the free

The Dec/Jan issue of Educational Leadership focuses specifically on “Learning in the Digital Age.” It has a great lineup of articles, including:

  • Listen to the Natives by Marc Prensky
  • The New WWW: Whatever, Whenever, Wherever by Tom March
  • The Overdominance of Computers by Lowell W. Monke
  • The Educator’s Guide to the Read/Write Web by Will Richardson
  • Technology and Achievement: The Bottom Line by Harold Wenglinsky
  • Going One-to-One by Mark Warschauer
  • Foiling Cyberbullies in the New Wild West by Mark Franek
  • Resources for Promoting Online Citizenship by Patrick James Jones
  • The World of Digital Storytelling by Jason Ohler
  • Tools for the Mind by Mary Burns

The issue has even more articles that look great too. Problem is, only subscribers to Educational Leadership have access to full-text online versions. You can buy an individual article for $3.00, but there is no way I am going to do that, and I bet fewer and fewer other people will either today and into the future.

Why would I reject out-of-hand purchasing an online article, even when it looks to be very high quality and worthwhile? It is because we are living in a flat world of digital curriculum characterized by an over-abundance of digital content. The old media mindset is, “Let’s charge people to read our stuff.” Personally for me that still works for print books, but not for most magazines or online resources. As tablet laptops become more ubiquitous, I predict it will become more common for people to read digital books as well. (For me currently, however, not having a tablet laptop, I am still much more comfortable curling up with a paper-based book that I can write in and highlight, or just enjoy as I want without relying on anything “electronic”…..) The MIT $100 laptop may serve as a major change agent encouraging more people to read digital books, and more digital content overall.

The new mindset is (and should be for Educational Leadership magazine and other print publishers): “Let’s give this away so the highest number of people possible will read and be influenced by these ideas.” That is a major paradigm shift for traditional publishers. I would submit Wired magazine as an example of a publisher that has made this transition well. The initial print version of the magazine comes out for subscribers only, but soon after that print release (I am not sure the exact delay, but it appears to be shorter than ever) most main articles from the issue are available in their web archive.

Edutopia published by the George Lucas Educational Foundation and Technology and Learning are examples of education-specific magazines also following a similar model (give away digital article copies rather than charge for them.) Some T&L publications like eBooks require registration, but not payment. Interactive Eduator is example, although it is just published in PDF format and is not published monthly. (It also is published directly by a vendor, SmartTech Technologies.)

In our digital age overflowing with digital content, I think information consumers (and therefore publishers) will increasingly tend to “follow the free” when the quality of content is high. Educational Leadership publishers and others need to make this paradigm shift. I’d love to read their articles, but I’m not going to pay to do so.

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3 responses to “Following the free”

  1. Mary Marotta Avatar

    Hi –
    I am teaching a workshop to teachers on Integrating Technolgoy and I have the Dec/January 2006 Educational Leadership Magazine, I just emailed them an hour ago to see if they would send to 20 copies for my teachers. I could not believe this information was not online. I then saw your post. – Mary

  2. Patrick Avatar

    If you look at the archived sections of Educational Leadership, check out the April 1994 issue – Realizing the Promise of Technology. The article, “On the Birth of the Communication Age: A Conversation with David Thornburg”, could have been written today, instead of 12 years ago. Have we progressed at all?

  3. Dorothy Thurn Avatar
    Dorothy Thurn

    I think it’s hard to curl up in a comfy chair with a computer! This is one reason I think printed material will remain in existence. Usually when I want to read something on the web, I will print it off to read at my leisure,maybe curled up in a comfy chair! My sister likes to read in a long relaxing bubble bath which would be difficult if using a computer. I really feel printed material will continue to be used.