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Learning From and About Elite Online Teacherpreneurs: A Qualitative Examination of Key Characteristics, School Environments, Practices, and Impacts

by Catharyn C. Shelton & Leanna Archambault - 2020

Background: Today’s teachers are turning to online educational marketplaces, such as TeachersPayTeachers.com (TpT), where they purchase teacher-created classroom materials for a small fee. Meanwhile, teachers who sell resources in these spaces, online teacherpreneurs, stand to benefit financially and may experience other affordances as well as challenges associated with the practice.

Purpose of Study: This study is one of the first empirical investigations of online teacherpreneurship. We interviewed highly experienced and successful online teacherpreneurs to understand who they are, what they do, and the impacts they encounter.

Research Design: Ten one-hour semistructured interviews were conducted with online teacherpreneurs who were ranked in the top 1% of sellers on TpT and had sold materials on TpT for at least four years. Interviews addressed the areas of online teacherpreneur experiences, personal characteristics, work environments, and opinions regarding online teacherpreneur controversies. Responses were analyzed to identify salient and/or repeated themes across the interviews, using the constant comparative method.

Findings: Online teacherpreneurs described themselves as helpful, hardworking, organized, creative, and risk-taking. Whereas some worked in supportive school environments, others worked in ambivalent schools, where they kept their teacherpreneur work separate and/or secret. They indicated that the practice of online teacherpreneurship involved creating resources, collaborating with teachers and online teacherpreneurs, and engaging in entrepreneurship. Online teacherpreneurs experienced positive impacts relating to teaching practice, teacher leadership, and their careers. They also experienced some professional stressors.

Conclusions: Online teacherpreneurs are emerging as virtual teacher leaders and educational influencers. They carry the responsibility to share high-quality resources, and they need the support of their schools and connections with colleagues to thrive.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 122 Number 7, 2020, p. 1-44
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23322, Date Accessed: 7/24/2021 12:56:10 PM

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About the Author
  • Catharyn Shelton
    Northern Arizona University
    E-mail Author
    CATHARYN C. SHELTON, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of education at Northern Arizona University. She studies how teachers lead, learn, and collaborate in virtual spaces. A recent publication on the topic of teacherpreneurs can be found at: Shelton, C. C., & Archambault, L. M. (2019). Who are online teacherpreneurs and what do they do? A survey of content creators on TeachersPayTeachers.com. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 51(4), 398–414. doi:10.1080/15391523.2019.1666757.
  • Leanna Archambault
    Arizona State University
    E-mail Author
    LEANNA ARCHAMBAULT, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of learning design and technologies in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Her research areas include teacher preparation for online and blended classrooms, the use of innovative technologies to improve learning outcomes, and sustainability literacy for preservice and in-service teachers.
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