Steve Herder and Philip Shigeo Brown on iTDi and the challenge of commercial viability vs social community needs

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Learning2gether episode 430

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On Thursday. November 21, Steve Herder and Philip Shigeo Brown talked to Vance Stevens about iTDi and the challenge of commercial viability vs social community needs

Vance Stevens, founder of Learning2gether, talked with iTDi Director and Cofounder, Steven Herder, together with TESOL Certificate Course Director, Philip Shigeo Brown about iTDi, how it came about: when it began to be planned in 2010, then launched in 2012, and why, what it does, where it’s going, and how it serves the field of language learning.

In particular, how does iTDi balance the needs of the #iTDiCommunity with the need to remain commercially viable? In the context of that challenge, what kind of teacher development opportunities are offered and should be offered in the future?

Where? in Zoom

Suggested gist of the conversation

Learning2gether promotes efforts that share knowledge in a free and open manner (share-alike in creative commons terms). As founder and coordinator of L2g, Vance is both interested in and impressed by the aspects of iTDi that do that. Whereas L2g does not promote commercial interests, I have no qualms whatsoever about spotlighting the altruistic work of for-profit entities that help to spread knowledge in our wider communities.

I gather from talking with Steven and Phil in the past that they seem to embrace that mindset while at the same time they and others at iTDi are seeking a fair return on the parts of their work where their professionalism shows devotion of time, expertise, and investment.

Achieving a return on investment is only right and fair, but I’d like to discuss how iTDi straddles the challenge of providing a service to the field while at the same time being compensated for it, and recruiting others to their team in return for their just compensation as well. In discussing these issues, I hope to find out more about how iTDi manages these challenges, and of course where they see it going. – Vance

These questions were alluded to during the conversation

Regarding this balance of service to the community vis a vis iTDi’s right to support itself and its investors (of time, money,expertise) I believe these questions were touched on in the discussion.
  • The iTDi website says that attendees are welcome to attend the Teachers Room sessions for a particular amount of time.before they are expected to subscribe. For this reason, I don’t announce them on L2g. When I have been there it seems you have welcomed participants. How does that work in practice?
  • We talked about JALT and IATEFL streaming sessions, in other words providing free content while making money elsewhere on the paid event (presumably). Does iTDi have a parallel model?
  • What can people do or participate in for free as community members vs what they must pay for, given of course that the paid areas would be ones where they could gain certification perhaps? Do you know W3 Schools? All their materials are free (choose from dozens of programming languages and help yourself) but if you want to be certified, you pay for that. (In the conversation, we found that iTDi had experimented with something similar).
  • What does iTDI do to develop their community. What benefits are there to community participation? How would users increase those benefits by upgading to paid services?
  • I presume you are teachers like me with a passion for sharing and contributing to the field, but are hoping to monetize the process to some extent for yourselves and others for reasons similar to why people don’t write books for free? What makes this tick?

All of these issues were touched on in the recorded materials. Have a listen!

Announcements made on these Facebook Groups


Philip Shigeo Brown followed up with this post to Facebook

Gotta stop playing and get the grading done. Plenty of time to play with friends and colleagues in September at Equinox 2010


Philip Shigeo Brown Blast from the past … Steven Herder and I were just talking about Equinox 2010 in an interview last night with Vance Stevens for Learning2gether, and fondly reminiscing how much we enjoyed it!

Thanks again for making it such an awesome series of conferences!

Earlier events


Wed Nov 20 0900 UTC Hanaa Khamis and Vance Stevens at GEC – Participatory culture of CPD through self-sustaining PLNs

Wed Nov 20 Credly presents Focus on Skills to Create the Perfect Workforce


Learning2gether slept through this one, but anyone can fill out this form to get a recording

One thought on “Steve Herder and Philip Shigeo Brown on iTDi and the challenge of commercial viability vs social community needs

  1. Pingback: A spontaneous discussion on Getting error correction right: an iTDi MonthlyRoundup on FB Live | Learning2gether

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