Edupreneurs – Creating A New Wave of Disruption In Education


What are Edupreneurs?

Edupreneurs are educators who make things happen while financing their own schools. Many teachers who have left established educational systems for one reason or another have found themselves carving out specialist niches from their own talents and passions. They cater for groups, individuals, and even free, open, massive communities. They personalize the learning experience for student clients, earn a living, and pay it forward through helping others.

They manage their own incomes, colonize and create new learning environments, create their own content and taste the kinds of artistic satisfaction that only freelance, independent teachers can experience.

They are free of the establishment, bureaucracy, glass ceilings, prejudice, and inequality. They are free to do what they love; teach, share, inspire, write, create. They are free of political constraints and shuttered mindscapes.

Many edupreneurs work online, where they can build up massive networks of students and teachers. They can choose to do voluntary work, make a difference, publish inspiring work on their websites and still earn a healthy living.

The online world is rich in the kinds of user-friendly technology and web tools that allow one to publish, make videos, eBooks, create websites, teach through gamification and even create virtual worlds for learning languages.

Why is this important?

Edupreneurs find themselves on the cutting edge of education. They also need to ”be” someone, so they invest time and thought in refining their craft, niches and mission statements.  The result is that they are often quite inspiring, focused, unique and far removed from what you would find in traditional educational establishments.

Edupreneurs are redefining the learning experience. Classroom teachers often gravitate towards the webinars and courses of online teachers, as they, too, wish to experiment and make changes with the support of innovative online networks.

What does it all mean in the larger scheme of things?

Can massive online networks, individual Edupreneurs and classroom teachers channel this synergy to turn education on its head? Can they be a disruptive influence on caged principles, or even principals?

What happens when education is freed from ivory towers, publishing hierarchies, and harmful government practices? What happens when multi-media is in the hands of the people?

Government controlled TV, radio, and newspapers are now effortlessly by-passed via social media , YouTube and pod-casting power. Grass-roots teachers have social currency and collective power.

Grass-roots teachers become Edupreneurs. Edupreneurs continue to inspire the grass roots again and again.

Grass-roots teachers have ideas.

The age of technology is our new Delphic Oracle. Our time has come.

hugoImage credit: Jago

Indeed, we must also be careful. I would go further and say that there is nothing as powerful as an idea meaningfully expressed. Ideas can be random, elusive, ill-defined, fashionable, cool, over-popularized, over-used and abused by the bandwagons of the masses.

Ideas can lose meaning, if they ever had meaning in the first place.

So what does disruption of education really mean?

I will attempt to redefine the essence of disruption and then discuss educators who bring integrity and meaning to innovation, evolution & revolution.

1) Disruption is silent

Quiet revolutions are happening in education all over the world. Individuals make a small difference and then share success stories within supportive networks. They are usually stories of experimentation, risk, creativity and heart to heart connectivity. Communities are inspired by these stories and communities drive the concept and the vision to the public eye. These educators rarely talk of disruption in the larger sense of toppling the establishment, but they talk of being transformed by the act of transforming.

2) Disruption is collaborative

Some of these teachers become leaders and some nurture their communities. Others are uplifted by leaders and nurturers to form their own mission statements, teaching values and life purpose. When these communities strike a chord in the hearts and mind of others around the world, they can be said to be causing positive disruption. They are spear-heading change in mindset and methodology. They are also creating new definitions of life and learning for future generations.

When this happens we can truly say that this is an idea whose time has come. Then , and only then, may we boldly speak of toppling the establishment – disruption from the inside out.

3) Disruption gets hijacked

Sadly, such teachers and movements are often hijacked by those same establishments that usurp their ideas, industrialize their souls and then cast away the essence of community spirit. The new form of industrialized disruption becomes noisy, empty and corrosive. It also becomes relentless.

These industries put feelers out for ”what’s popular”, jump on the bandwagon and loudly proclaim that they are disruptive innovators, even if all they are disrupting is your news-feed.

As my colleague Andrew Wickham said on Facebook:

Careful with the word “disruption”. It can mean many different things and is often used as a Trojan horse to undermine professionals, disqualify them, eliminate their job security and cut their salaries in order to further commercial interests. The evangelists of technology-based learning and the replacement of teachers by computing products and poorly paid and poorly qualified minders are in many cases the useful idiots of those vested interests.”

5) Disruption has many faces in many places

What teachers around the world are doing.

Are you one of them?

a) Personalizing the learning experience by having students create their own learning contexts and content

b) Experimenting with Educational Technology

c) Redefining ways of coping with standard curricula

d) Flipping the classroom

e) Opening up classrooms to other classes around the world

f) Collaborating on global community projects

g) Working independently as an online teacher

h) Blogging, publishing, and challenging personal learning networks

i) Broadcasting through podcasts or live online webinars

j) Sharing time and  talent with voluntary organizations

k) Publishing courses online through educational platforms and websites

l) Following one’s own vision of learning

m) Creating opportunities for students to lead their own learning

n) Showing students and communities how to work together

o ) Collaborating with parents and communities

p) Helping colleagues to stay inspired and avoid burnout

q) Creating courses and content beyond the supply and demand of major publishing houses

r) Sharing one’s work for free, whilst also earning a respectable living

s) Experimenting in public

t) Supporting those who need help and celebrating those who deserve recognition

u) Helping students to find their voices and publish them

v) Being humble enough to learn from mistakes and admit them in public

w) Allowing students to shape their own environments

x) Appreciating diversity and fostering talent

y) Knowing that ideas are more important than the people who have the ideas

z) Embodying the principle that there is no e for ego in the great school of disruption

The sound of silence

Throughout history, teachers have been silenced by the powers that be and forced to follow systems that hurt their students and themselves. In recent years some of the first disruptors in education to publish their voices and feelings to the world have been Edupreneurs; those who have chosen to earn a living and make a difference beyond the establishments of governments within governments.

Working online and harnessing the power of Twitter and Facebook to break through isolation and misinformation, such teachers give hope and new voices to those who struggle in silence. Social media texting and multi-media messages are smashing through taboos and breaking down cultural barriers.

Broadcasting via live online webinars has allowed massive organizations of teachers worldwide to support and learn from each other.

This is real.

Disruption is good. It is by definition a concept that’s neither established nor of borne an establishment; it’s a chaotic concept in the making. It’s a choice.

Positive disruptors utilize technology, whereas false evangelists use technology.

Technology gives us a global audience of real people. As the song says…”reach out and touch somebody’s hand…make this world a better place if you can”. We may not be able to touch hands in cyberspace, but we can certainly touch hearts.

We’d love to hear your stories of inspiration which you can share on this Storify or in the comments below.



Sylvia Guinan

is an online English teacher, writer and blogger who facilitates professional development online. She uses brain-friendly techniques to help students and teachers around the world. She designs educational materials, develops courses, writes resource papers and publishes ebooks. Her work is the result of much research into the psychology of learning, as well as hands-on experience with multi-media technology.

8 thoughts on “Edupreneurs – Creating A New Wave of Disruption In Education

  1. Pingback: E  is for… ‘Eduprenurship’ | chasing the sun east
  2. The education industry is like a dinosaur, and this current wave of “disruption” is like the cavemen that are riding on the back of it. They’re only visible because they’re riding a dinosaur, but unfortunately that dinosaur is trudging blindly towards a cliff.
    At this point, anything truly disruptive in education is unrecognizable as such.

  3. Even before people started using buzzwords like “edupreneur”, “edtech”, “hacking education” etc. the internet has always been a candy-store for self-directed learners. And once you scrape away the fairy dust of novelty, what remains is an age-old idea: the joy of learning. We’ve come to associate “education” with grades, lecturing, information overload and performance anxiety, but learning is an intrinsic human characteristic. We perceive, experience, process, rinse and repeat. True learning is not studying for a test or career but life-long learning, growing and development. To illustrate this, there is an old Jewish tradition where young children are being taught the Hebrew alphabet and their mothers bake honey cookies in the shape of each new letter, in the hope that the children’s learning would always be as sweet as honey cookies and they would never forget the joy of learning. It is this simple, innocent approach to learning which is at the base of true disruption, shoving aside the gate keepers of the “temples of wisdom”, toppling fixed ideas and paradigms and returning again to an unbridled sense of joy.

  4. I think it’s great that teachers are doing it for themselves and finding new ways to input into the collective wealth of knowledge and skill that is growing. I also think it’s great that they are defining new ways of making a living from what they do, which are independent and empowering. What worries me about the term edupreneur and in fact what I see happening generally in edtech is that people with money, who want to make more money can smell the potential to do it within education. They have the power and the connections to roll over independent educationalists and for the large part their only interest is in making money. I see a lot of this happening in the edtech startup world. So educators look out a beware.

    1. So many have said that being a teacher is a thing of the past! even student say that it is not “sexy” to be a teacher. i believe the role of the teacher is re-invented. we are the real coaches and mentors for the future generation ! and making money is not a bad word for a teacher, win win is the way so it is possible and we are here to show it to the kids!

      1. Absolutely, Eli. Teachers are the real mentors for any generation. However, they also need to be well versed with the technology and the latest teaching pedagogies to keep students interested and engaged.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.