clssy blog

The Freelance Professors are Coming!

Three weeks ago we blogged about sessional teachers, the often underpaid, overworked “Roads Scholars” who teach individual classes (sometimes through multiple universities). Most of them hope to accumulate enough teaching experience to become tenured at a university. Some critics condemn the way they are used and how little they are paid. 

Michael Keathley recently wrote a piece detailing the “freelance professor” or the “teacherpreneur”, an instructor who can break out of the typical constraints of a university payment format by teaching an online class and setting its price via alternative education websites.


Keathley wondered in his piece, “how nice it would be if teachers were paid like other professionals. For instance, what if we could charge a fee just to show up at work the way that plumbers and electricians do? Or what if we could earn annual incomes in the six-figure range instead of the average contingent faculty rate.”

Teacherpreneurship is loosley defined here by the Teachers Leader Network, an American centre for teaching quality:

"Most importantly, teacherpreneurship is not about promoting a free-market vision for the profit of a few—but rather how our society can invest substantially in teachers who can expertly serve millions of children and families who are not in the position to choose a better school somewhere else or find the most erudite online teacher anytime, anywhere. Teacherpreneurship is all about the public good, not private gain." (15 October, 2010)

Freelance teachers can cut out the middle man by gaining their own client base, choosing how much they wish to charge and by having more freedom in choosing their most effective teaching methodology.

There are concerns among scholars such as: how does one appropriately price a course? Will students recognize the value of the courses and be motivated to pay?  Will it eventually turn in to a student-driven market where students dictate fees? Can a professor directing an online class actually meet the needs of all, say, 450 students?

Keathley offers several potential solutions to the trend of freelance teachers directing large online courses. Mainly, he wants senior/experienced faculty to direct classes with the full support of their institution for these pilot classes.

Through several blogs we’ve examined the impact that online education could have on the future. This article touches upon many of the core concerns, mainly class quality, student participation and market forces. 

We believe that teacherpreneurship should be embraced. Learning should be as accessible as possible and a key way in achieving this is allowing not only certified teachers to freelance but also by having passionate people teach a course. However the power of face-to-face, interpersonal learning still holds a significant and meaningful place in education. It still remains to be seen whether online advancements in education like this can adequately provide the same quality experience.  

Want to take classes in Montreal? Visit for a range of in-person classes taught by passionate people.