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Adjunct teachers receive abysmal pay. This platform lets them earn money for their course materials

Through Educator Exchange—a winner of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards—college-level instructors can supplement their incomes by uploading syllabi and practice problems—and learn from other instructors, too.

Adjunct teachers receive abysmal pay. This platform lets them earn money for their course materials
[Photos: Tom Fowlks/Getty Images]

When adjunct professors are paid per class—often making less than $3,500 per course—all the effort that goes into those courses can feel like unpaid, and under-appreciated work. On top of all the time spent actually teaching and grading, they spend time creating syllabi, writing lecture slides, and coming up with classroom exercises. But, on Course Hero, long a resource for students looking for study materials, college-level educators have gotten a chance to supplement their incomes by uploading their own course materials and learning resources—and to learn from other instructors, too—through a program called Educator Exchange.

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For years, students have used Course Hero as a study resource, even uploading their own lecture notes for others to see. Professors have since gotten on board, too, sharing the materials they create for their classes. By talking to faculty, Course Hero CEO and cofounder Andrew Grauer says the site learned about educators’ needs for finding and creating course materials, and what incentives could exist for the people who provide that help.

“[We] think about, ‘How do we help faculty with finding course materials, teaching materials, assessment materials that help them be better and save time?,’ at the same time as, ‘How do we help them get recognized for what they do?'” he says. “And this particular program is doing it in a way that’s also monetary recognition.”

[Image: Educator Exchange]
To join, educators create a verified educator account on Course Hero and upload their own course materials right to their profile. When students unlock an educator’s content, that educator gets paid half of the revenue those documents generate. (Some students can access materials for free if they upload their own resources; others pay a subscription.)

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Educator Exchange launched as a beta program in July 2020 with 2,200 educators, and was released out of beta in 2021. Educators have shared around 35,000 of their own resources; over 6,000 educators have now earned money on their content, per the site, with the highest earners making upwards of $5,000. In the top 20 earners, the average is $2,300. Educator Exchange is the winner of the education category of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards.

The platform also gives insights on the number of students who engage with an instructor’s material, showing what resources are resonating with learners. Educators can see what other professors are uploading, too, if they need guidance on how to create their own syllabi or ideas for new classroom exercises. That sort of community was helpful during the pandemic, Grauer says, when instructors had to switch to remote learning and needed help creating different teaching materials.

“Educators are really interested in helping other educators, and seeing the value that it provides other educators. They’re really interested in engagement data back from students, too, and what they find valuable and not valuable,” Grauer says. “And they like the opportunity to be able to earn money, in some cases, on top of that.” There are now more than 90,000 verified educators in the community, and Course Hero hopes to expand it to high school teachers next.

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