I don’t get paid for this blog. Even Matt Welch barely makes any money from his blog. I know John Scalzi has managed to get a paying blog gig, but he still keeps a much better “free” personal blog as well.
It’s thankless. It’s relentless. So why do we do it? Well, I don’t know why those million or so other bloggers do it, but I do it because it keeps me writing. I’m working on other (paying) things at the same time, but these are long-term projects, requiring me to sustain an effort over months, up to even a year at a time. Blogging a bit every day (okay, it hasn’t been quite every day the past couple weeks) helps limber up the writing muscles for those other efforts that require a bit more concentration. Also I have this pie-in-the-sky dream that suddenly someday my blog will become incredibly popular, and that will somehow drive a truckload of book sales my way, but mainly it’s the limbering up thing.
Now Steven Krause is pointing out that some teachers are balking at providing online materials for free, the way bloggers do. Krause isn’t complaining, mind you, he’s just saying. I’ve done a little online teaching, and my brother in law does a lot of it. Krause is right — for many people, it’s more work than teaching a “regular” course. Personally I think that when you develop materials for an online course, what you’re doing is making your course more structured, more rigorous, than what you can do more “easily” by “winging it” in the classroom. Should you be payed more for this? In that you are becoming a better, more disciplined teacher, yes. In that you are somehow going “beyond the call of duty,” absolutely not.
If you’re worried that other teachers will “use” the materials you’ve created, you’re being (a) selfish and (b) naive. There are plenty of places for lazy teachers to crib their lessons from. More than once I’ve heard of a teacher saying “I can’t use Textbook A for my course — that’s where I get all my lectures.” A teacher who develops online courses from scratch should be paid more than a teacher who teaches from materials others have created. But a teacher who relies solely on third-party materials is not a true professional. If that was all there was to teaching, we could just hand the kids the books and be done with it.
The same goes for writers. I think I’m a better writer because I blog. Should I get paid for my blogging? Probably not. Should I be rewarded with better paying gigs? If the world is just, I should be. Time will tell if the world can become the way I want it to be.