Online Teachers Are Seriously Getting Ripped Off

The online learning industry is expected to be valued at $1 trillion by 2028. Venture capitalists are making record breaking profits, often 40% to 60% returns on their investments, while exploiting the labor of online teachers and ripping off students.

It should come to no surprise that many of these investors, such as Hoxton Ventures who financed Preply, have also backed companies such as Deliveroo, who have been embattled with lawsuits in multiple countries for labor exploitation and unfair algorithms. There is also Coatue and Tiger Global, two colossal hedge funds that dumped $75 million into Outschool in April of last year and another $110 million in October. Coatue has amassed a good chunk of its wealth backing Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, whereas Tiger Global has had large stakes in Amazon, Meta, Airbnb, Shopify, and Spotify. All of these companies have horrible reputations regarding labor rights. They’re rich from ripping off workers.

Angel investors and up-and-coming hedge funds are dumping their money into the hundreds of other start-up online learning platforms, many with the goal of making a quick profit before letting the business crash and burn leaving teachers choking in the smoke.

Working on these platforms is not sustainable nor equitable for teachers as companies maximize their profits by oversaturating their marketplace and spreading students thin. This ensures that teachers pay a higher commission, such as what Preply does. Teachers used to rant and rave about Outschool until they drastically scaled from 1,000 to 10,000 teachers over the past two years. While Outschool is seeing major profits, teachers are earning a lot less due to oversaturation and having to spend a lot more time marketing themselves while still paying a 30% commission.  

None of these companies, nor the investors backing them care about education. They do not care about students. They don’t care about teachers.

These companies don’t owe teachers anything. No rights. No voice. No job security. They can have secret algorithms, discriminatory marketing and hiring practices, shadow block your profile, or even delete your account without reason. These companies have zero accountability to anyone.

Because of this, many teachers are going solo, which has left a vacuum for snakes to plague the industry with “how to be a successful freelance teacher” schemes, often costing a lot of money for subpar training that can easily be found for free on YouTube. Anyone that claims to be able to teach you how to run ads on Facebook or Google in a few hours is a fraud, and any digital marketer would say the same thing. Even as a freelancer, how much money do you actually make per hour after factoring in other expenses such as lesson planning, administrative tasks, tools, and time (or money) marketing?

As a freelance teacher, one must ‘stand out’ among the crowd. This really just looks like a pack of hyenas fighting over a single carcass while the lions are already full and happy. Instead of trying to push ourselves up by pushing others down, online teachers need to come together to be able to gain some authority and power in an industry where selling our labor is the sole reason these businesses survive in the first place.

Online teachers are getting ripped off, and we are sick of it. We have been completely left out of the discussion about what happens in our industry. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of professional online educators around the world being exploited by people and corporations that don’t care about us.

Lawmakers and labor groups are focused on providing more rights for Uber, DoorDash, and Deliveroo workers, but there has not been a peep about how online teachers are victims of wage theft, discrimination, and unethical business practices. This needs to change and online teachers need to be seen as a professional community with common needs and aspirations.

As more platform workers become increasingly dissatisfied with their working conditions, there is a powerful movement of worker cooperatives restoring democracy and bringing equity back to working people. After years of unstable pay, unsustainable work, and getting ripped off, online teachers are fed up and it is time to organize.

MyCoolClass Co-operative is the first and only online learning platform collectively owned by our members in 25+ countries. No venture capital. No hedge funds. Just teachers that came together to build a platform that works for teachers and our students. We are only as strong as our members and right now we are building an army of teachers who want something better.

Imagine if Etsy was owned by artists and creators? Through platform cooperatives, a better, fairer, and equitable workplace is possible for independent workers. The Drivers Cooperative has 8,000 drivers competing against Uber and Lyft in New York City and is looking to branch out to 8 more US cities in the near future. Fairmondo is a German ecommerce platform cooperative, like eBay but collectively owned by the sellers. Stocksy is a platform for photographers who sell stock photos, like Shutterstock or Adobe. Launching soon is PlatformX, a freelancer-owned hybrid cooperative similar to Upwork.

If you’re an online teacher and ready for something better, MyCoolClass is the place for you.
We’re looking for active teachers and supporters who will help spread the news about our co-op so we can grow.

Ready to join us? Learn more about membership and apply here.

Watch a full presentation about MyCoolClass explaining the nuts and bolts of how we work.

Support MyCoolClass by sharing this blog with your family and friends.

It’s time to organize.

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