You might have noticed a few “Donate Now” buttons showing up on our site today. They look a lot like this:


No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke…we really are asking for money, starting with a big email a few weeks back. That raises the interesting question: how do you ask people to pay for something that’s free? My answer is pretty simple: we just ask and see what happens.

Another question naturally arises: is the Saylor Academy in danger of closing its doors, spinning down the servers, and going dark…forever? No! Not at all. Of course not. Yet here I am, asking our community, our learners, you, to donate a few dollars.

Our reasons are pretty simple. One, people often ask how they can contribute to what we do, and while we haven’t yet recruited a corps of proofreaders, forums moderators, and street-corner evangelists, we can at least offer people the opportunity to give a small amount. If giving money will give you some joy and a sense of ownership in the Saylor Academy, then I am only too happy to oblige.

Like I said, the doors will stay open, but every donation counts. Our mission is to make affordable, effective learning available to anyone who wants it — no barriers of time, money, politics, or geography…just the learning you need for the outcomes you want. We are partnering with schools and businesses to put academic credit and innovative credentialing on the menu. To make the leap from most closely serving thousands to serving tens (hundreds? thousands?) of thousands, we need sharper content, more engaging technology, and a tighter focus. That, for us, is 2014 in a nutshell. We need funds, absolutely. We also need buy-in from our student community. We need you to know that you own this.

Sending a few bucks our way is just one of many ways to take ownership of the learning and credentials you get at the Saylor Academy; I’m always happy to suggest others, and always happy to hear from you.


4 thoughts on “We’re asking for money; here is why

  1. Well, I can’t offer money (money being the worst aspect of my life at the moment), but I surely tried to help in other, less tangible, ways. Now and then I did (and probably will continue doing) offer you feedback about the courses content, assessment, as well as community image and incentives. I hope I was well read…

    “To make the leap from most closely serving thousands to serving tens (hundreds? thousands?) of thousands, we need sharper content, more engaging technology, and a tighter focus…”

    That is not enough. You need above all to:

    1. Develop close warm relations with your students by improving the community feeling of belonging (it’s hard to explain this further than I already did in my e-mails, but do give those year-of-study badges a shot…). Prioritizing responding to people’s feedback would be a good start.

    2 Make Saylor Academy a unique virtual higher education familiar ground, where people can both have fun and learn new stuff at the same time. Show them you are not just another Coursera, Udacity etc.

    3. Roll out those study incentives! Year of study badges! The good looking graduation diplomas! A honorary list of the first 100 Saylor graduates on the site! And so on…

    I wish you all the best.

    1. Hi Constantin,

      I appreciate your candor and I agree that “sharper content, more engaging technology, and a tighter focus” are not enough — as glib marketing shorthand (I say with all fondness) can never really be enough.

      1. I do agree on building — and improving — relationships. Look for a blog announcement soon re: community. how we imagine and express credentials is still very much in flux. “Majors” are enticing but remarkably difficult for individuals to attain without other changes and supports on our end. We actually have a very personal connection to badges so old, old promises about badging, as yet unfulfilled, will probably come to fruition soon.

      2. Fun is incredibly important. And that, as you certainly realize, goes back, in part to (1) above.

      3. Duly noted!

      I’ll be in touch directly in the coming week.

    2. I love those ideas. I wish there were a way that I could contribute without spending money I don’t have. I have YEARS of experience in customer service, real estate and small business and sales coaching, but while I love to learn, I am legally unable to pay for any further education of any type.

      Currently I’m using to help an older woman get a high school diploma. I’d hope that at some point there would be a way of getting an accredited high school diploma from this site especially designed for adults of all ages.

      I would love to assist with curriculum development, proofreading, fielding calls during breaks, talk to prospective students or any other way I can assist long distance. I’m open to suggestions.

      Give me a call and I’ll be happy to discuss anything you’d like me to assist with to brain storming sessions via other technology.

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