Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's Good Business! Mobile Web2.0 Tools Should be Free For Educators

Over the last five years of researching web2.0 tools that couple with cell phones, I have found many tools that I LOVE, but they cost money to use. As an educator and former technology coordinator, I know that for many schools it is unrealistic to expect them to be able to pay (consistently--year after year) for access to the web2.0 tool. At the same time I understand that most of these companies that create the tools are in business to make money. Especially sites that do not advertise (which schools like), need some way to stay afloat. Therefore, here is my proposal to these companies.

1) Allow educators K-16 to use these resources for free. Allow them to use the FULL version for free if there is an upgrade option (there are many resources that are starting to go in this direction)

2) In return when these students enter the "real world" there is a good chance they will be hooked on these resources. Thus, they will be willing to pay to use them in the business world.

In my opinion, this is a win-win. The schools get access to the latest and best resources for mobile phones, and the companies get lots of marketing and future business.

I thought of this idea when I was talking with a friend in Canada who said that in his province all students under the age of 18 get free unlimited texting by a few of the cell phone companies. I realized that this is an excellent marketing scheme by the cell phone companies. Here is why---the companies get the students hooked on all the bells and whistles of text messaging (not hard to do!) so that the companies have guaranteed business when the students reach the age of 18! Smart marketing in my opinion. Why can't some of my favorite mobile web2.0 companies do the same??? The resources below were often-used by educators BEFORE the sites started charging.

I have been contacting many of these sites with my proposal.

What do you think? Do you have any sites to add to the list?


comfortably souther said...

You have my vote. i think it is a great idea. These kids may even work for these telecommunications companies one day.

Chris said...

A couple of companies whose services I've used in my teaching already offer free services, such as and polleverywhere (limited to 35 per poll, but still free).

Teach42 said...

Just as ammo for your argument, you should check out Chris Anderson's (of Long Tail fame) new book, "Free: The Future of a Radical Price."

A quote from a review of it: "In Free, he makes the compelling case that in many instances businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them. Far more than a promotional gimmick, Free is a business strategy that may well be essential to a company's survival."

Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

I think I need to get a petition going :-)

Jesmi said...

I think it is a great idea...

Bud Hunt said...

Late to the conversation - but I wonder -
Kids need to eat at school. Businesses perhaps should give schools and kids all the food they need to eat. I suspect KFC and McDonald's would love to get in on that.

Kids and teachers need to wear clothes at school. I suspect many businesses wouldn't mind donating clothes, along with little logos for teachers and student to wear. Great business to advertise.

I want lots of things for students, but I don't like the idea of granting access to businesses as a way for them to boost advertising. It's tricky ground to navigate and I'm more of the opinion that schools should be paying their bills and trying their best to know to whom they're beholden - in the case of public schools, the taxpayer. Not the cellular service companies.

Much to think about here.

Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

Great Point about public school versus Business Market and the muddy area we could get into.

To add more complexity to this issue, my old school district had a contract with Coca-Cola. Only Coke products in the vending machines and Coke would "give" the school a new scoreboard on the football field. Of course the Coke label was all over the scoreboard. In some respects I think schools are already doing this (sometimes the results are not always beneficial). And then we had sponsors for the Spring Musical (which was very costly). In turn for giving the school a few bucks, the company got to have their logo all over the programs, signs, banners, and in the theater. Where is the line? I don't know. Bud you bring up an excellent point! Thanks for posting.

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