Logistics, II

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs!  As promised, today we’ll continue with our discussion of logistical issues … specifically, the issues of Ownership and Money.  Yesterday, I outlined the subscription model that we envision for the mature Tres Columnae project, which includes:

  • A large amount of free content, freely available to everyone;
  • Free registration, with the opportunity to comment and to participate in Continuing Virtual Seminars;
  • An inexpensive Basic Annual subscription (maybe $10-20 per year for an individual), which adds the ability to use – and track your scores on – interactive quizzes and exercises;
  • A small per-item charge (not yet set) for editing if you want to submit your own stories, images, audio, or video;
  • A Standard Monthly subscription for those who want to contribute regularly; and
  • A Premium subscription for those who want to contribute a lot.

You’ll be able to choose the plan that’s right for you, and you’ll be able to change plans at your convenience as your needs change. The more you contribute, of course, the faster the project will grow, and the more fun it will be for everyone.  So we hope you’ll choose to contribute a lot! 🙂

Today we’ll take a closer look at where the money will be going … specifically, the money that will go back to the community in the form of rewards and royalties.  In addition to paying our hosting, development, and editing costs, we plan to provide

  • prizes and awards to participants who submit particularly outstanding stories, images, audio, or video (We thought about gift certificates, subscription credit, and free “stuff” of the types we describe in the next paragraph);
  • opportunities for participants to make “stuff” that includes their content (for example, T-shirts with the images they created, or illustrated books with their stories, or DVDs with the videos they created); and
  • royalties for participants whose “stuff” is included in others’ “stuff.” (For example, if you want an illustrated book that contains your stories with someone else’s illustrations, we want to compensate the illustrator. If you want a “complete” DVD with all the video created for a particular Lectiō, we want to compensate the creators of each video.)

In short, at Tres Columnae, we really want to stand behind our core value of Ownership. Not only should you own the learning process metaphorically, but you should actually, legally own the content you create as part of your learning. In too many schools, ownership issues are so unclear that student-created content ends up being destroyed – especially if it’s the work of several different students. No one knows whether a particular student (or parent) would mind if the work was published … so it isn’t. Instead, it’s deleted or discarded. What a sad message that sends to the student creators!

At Tres Columnae, we certainly understand the legal and logistical issues that lead schools to treat students’ work in this way, but we feel strongly that there’s a better way. When you subscribe to Tres Columnae, or when you offer content to us, the licensing issues will be clear, both to you and (if you’re not legally able to make a binding agreement) to your parents or guardians. That way, your rights will be protected, but your works can still be shared with a wider audience.  And, if people like your “stuff” – and want it to be included in products like T-shirts, little books, or DVDs – you’ll be able to profit from the work that you’ve done.   It’s a win for you, a win for your friends and family, and a win for the Tres Columnae project.

quid respondētis, amīcī?

  • Tres Columnae is for you, so if you hate the pricing model, we’d really like to know!
  • We’d also like to know if you can come up with a good alternative that would allow more content to be free, while still maintaining our quality standards.
  • One obvious alternative is advertiser support.  Personally, I don’t think that’s a good model for our project, for several reasons:
    • Our focus isn’t exactly advertiser-friendly.  (Who exactly would advertise?  Businesses from the Roman Empire or medieval Europe? 🙂 Garum manufacturers?)
    • One of our primary audiences, teenagers, is attractive to advertisers.
    • But I don’t really think we should be delivering them to potential advertisers!
    • In the course of a day, teenagers see enough advertising as it is; I don’t think that external advertising should be part of our Joyful Learning Community.
  • On the other hand, if you, the community, strongly prefer an advertising-supported site, we’ll certainly take that into consideration.
  • Which level of subscription would best meet your needs, and those of your students?
  • Do you see a need for a different type of subscription – one that we haven’t thought of?
  • What do you think would be a reasonable per-item charge for editing?
  • And, when we do get to the point of offering subscriptions, what forms of payment would you want us to be able to handle?
    • Some online educational content providers only take PayPal, for example.
    • Others take credit cards.
    • Still others can handle institutional purchase orders.
  • What would work best for you?

Tune in next time, when we’ll return to the Tres Columnae storyline, and to our consideration of verbal aspect, with a series about participles and infinitives. We hope you enjoy them, and the stories in which they occur! In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus! Please keep those comments and emails coming.

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Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 10:41 am  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I really like this philosophy, and I had never really thought about how much student work … however splendid … is just discarded. Are we contemplating a group subscription rate for classes? Maybe a discount on the basic rate for each group of ten?

    If I’m paying as an individual, Paypal is fine; if it’s my school, credit card is better.

    Ann M

    • Ann,
      I hadn’t thought about it either until recently, when my school district made “examining student work” a yearlong theme for staff development. So we collected and inspected a lot of excellent work … but what happened to it when we were done?

      Yes, I would think a group subscription rate would make a lot of sense, especially if the teacher happened to be willing to do some editing. As for methods of payment, I think it will end up making sense to take as many forms as possible, especially if we start to get institutional subscribers.

      Gratias maximas iterum,
      Justin

  2. Just a thought about advertising: Perhaps we could attract college and university classics programs, the National Latin Exam, the Medusa Mythology Exam, study abroad programs that would benefit not only the student, but also the advertiser. Like I said, just a thought.

    • Randy, that is a really interesting thought! I’ll share it with the rest of the Tres Columnae working group and see what they think. It might not be a lot of money, but every bit can help.

      Thanks again,
      Justin

  3. What if there were less advertising for “premium” accounts. I’m really not a fan of advertising and would prefer NOT to have it, but I understand the realities of hosting.

    • Randy,
      Yet another intriguing idea. I’m not sure about the logistics, but will investigate and see what I can find out. Thanks again for taking part in this conversation!


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