I always send a link of my latest blog to a few respected colleagues and eagerly await their critique. This last week I received a very thoughtful response from a good friend that, part of which, I believe warrants a response. He said:

“Finally, if your goal is to persuade others toward your line of thinking, I think you’d do better to blog under a different identity than MasteryConnect… Having participated in online discussions about education for many years now (and having been regularly approached by technology vendors on a near-daily basis for the last several years), I’ve likely become more skeptical of the advice offered by people – when it’s also tied to a product – than the typical educator might be. In a nutshell, why should I trust what you’ve written as MasteryConnect, when you’re clearly motivated – at least in that space – by commercial gain? (How are your actions there any different than the actions of Pearson here? http://goo.gl/078cI )

I definitely understand where he is coming from and agree that blogging for and promoting a company creates a potential conflict of interest. However, MasteryConnect did not hire me to promote their products or entice me to peddle their wares. Rather, MasteryConnect is the culmination of my life’s work in education. It is the outcome of one of those moments where you find yourself sitting around the dinner table sketching out some ideas on the back of a napkin. It is the result of having the right people, people much more talented than myself, present to act upon a set of deeply held beliefs; where a conversation full of “what if” statements turns into a two and a half year call to action. I am deeply proud of the work that is being done at MasteryConnect and the passion and energy every member of our team brings to our products.

Over the last few weeks I have made an effort to outline our core beliefs. We began with the idea that we could make a difference for teachers, students and parents and have worked to that end each day. We have created the most comprehensive and downloaded Common Core State Standards app and provided it to teachers for free. We continue to upgrade the app and respond to teacher requests for improvement…for free. We have provided teachers access to a community that allows them to connect and share CCSS focused formative assessments…for free. Both of these products were created by world class developers who did so at great expense of personal time and money. Prior to MasteryConnect I had no idea how much time, talent and skill it would take to turn an idea into an elegant web 2.0 application. The challenges and commitment required are immense.

Yes, MasteryConnect’s full version is a product that aims for commercial success. The people (and their families) who have given so much of their lives to creating it are counting on teachers to see the value of the work they have done. Teachers go to work every day in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of their students…but they expect to be paid for their efforts. The expectation of getting paid is not an act of greed on the part of teachers; it is the expectation of compensation for services provided, years of study in college, countless hours of practice and professional development and a desire to have the means to continue doing the work they love. Our team goes to work every day with the same hopes of making a difference in the lives of teachers and students. We are absolutely committed to this end.

In response to my friend and colleague…yes, I am “clearly motivated by commercial gain”…our survival as a company depends on it. We continue to work toward improving our product in response to the feedback we receive from appreciative teachers across the country. Odds are we won’t become the multi-national conglomerate with a market cap the size of a Pearson, but we will always be a passionate team listening to and focusing on the needs of teachers. We are committed to making a difference and I will continue to blog for MasteryConnect in hopes that my voice supporting our cause just may….”persuade others toward your/our line of thinking”.

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