Top Hat, the Canadian education technology startup, completed a new round of funding to give it more firepower to go after textbook publishers like Pearson Plc.I'm all for progress, but in this case there is a huge danger that the professors who sell their content directly will be more biased than traditional publishers whose texts must go through numerous reviews before they invest the money into publishing them.
Top Hat is one of a handful of startups trying to find ways to disrupt the traditional textbook publishing industry, dominated by companies like Pearson, Cengage Learning Inc. and McGraw-Hill Education Inc... All of these firms have added digital educational materials to their range of products, but the transition has been rocky.
Even as the big publishers work to increase the proportion of sales that come from digital products, they’re still largely dependent on physical books.
That’s a weakness Top Hat Chief Executive Officer Mike Silagadze said he’s trying to exploit.
In November, they launched an online content marketplace, where professors can create course materials and sell it around the world. The idea is to cut out the publisher and let professors sell directly to students and each other, Silagadze said.
“It fundamentally breaks the publisher’s traditional model of producing content,” he said. “Our aim is to disrupt the paradigm the publishers have created over the last 100 years.”
It is more than likely that a professor or teacher who is anti-Israel will publish shoddy, half-baked materials and with this peer-to-peer system his or her customers will buy based on style, not content. Unless there is more oversight than is being reported here, this model has the potential of spreading lies without even a modicum of peer review.
And you can be certain that some politically biased professors will jump at the opportunity to spread propaganda as textbooks - not to mention they can make money doing it.