Posted by: crudbasher | November 19, 2010

Outsourcing Online Learning

Well this story is one of those that is more significant than most people realize.  Several schools in England are using (english speaking) online math tutors from India.  There are two disruptive forces at work here.

1. Once you are teaching online, it doesn’t matter where the person on the other end is from.  The computer will (soon) provide realtime translation. At that point, the entire world is a potential provider of learning.

2. This will once and for all remove all doubt as to what the priorities are of the teachers unions.  Everything they have done so far is cloaked in “what is best for the children”.  That’s a crock and everyone knows it.  Unions do what is best for their members. Period.  That’s fine with me by the way, that’s their job. I just don’t like the fake concern for children.  Oh I am sure the union leaders care about children, but it’s not their first priority.

Budget problems will drive schools to outsource larger and larger chunks of education to much cheaper (because non union) overseas teachers.  This will largely gut the teachers unions and they know it.  Does anyone want to make an argument that someone from India doesn’t know these subjects as well as a teacher in America?

This is the shape of things to come.  If you are in the information business, you better be prepared to offer something that can’t be outsourced.

  • outsourcing math tutoring

    tags: education outsourcing tutoring disruptive nell

    • Once a week, year six pupils at Ashmount Primary School in North London settle in front of their computers, put on their headsets and get ready for their math class. A few minutes later, their teachers come online thousands of kilometers away in the Indian state of Punjab.


    • Ashmount is one of three state schools in Britain that decided to outsource part of their teaching to India via the Internet. The service — the first of its kind in Europe — is offered by BrightSpark Education, a London-based company set up last year. BrightSpark employs and trains 100 teachers in India and puts them in touch with pupils in Britain through an interactive online tutoring program.


    • The feedback from pupils, the schools and parents is good so far, and BrightSpark said a dozen more schools, a charity and many more parents were interested in signing up for the lessons. The one-on-one sessions not only cost about half of what personal tutors in Britain charge but are also popular with pupils, who enjoy solving equations online, said Rebecca Stacey, an assistant head teacher at Ashmount.


    • But the service also faces some opposition from teacher representatives who are fearful that it could threaten their jobs at a time when the government is pushing through far-reaching spending cuts.


    • BrightSpark is charging £12 per session and pupil. Tutors are being paid £7 an hour, more than double the minimum wage in Punjab.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. Thank you for posting! I am a huge advocate of online education because of the opportunities that it gives full time executives, moms, dads, husbands, wives, educators, bus drivers, customer service workers and etc to pursue their education. No matter how busy the person, the online courses allow accessibility from anywhere in the world. This is a wonderful benefit.

    • You are exactly right. Something else to consider is that all those full time executives, moms, dads, husbands, wives, educators, bus drivers, customer service workers, can be teachers part time too!

      Thanks much for commenting Nicole!

  2. The part of it that bothers me is that governments, I believe, will go for the cheapest option. Are the cheapest teachers necessarily the best teachers? In my country, Australia, trained librarians are being replaced by technicians because their payscale is lower.

    • Well I can’t speak about Australia, but in the US we had some problems about 7 months ago with the education budget. It got to the point that they had to let teachers go. However, the teachers let go were the newest ones, therefore the ones making the least money. I’ve done work for the US government, and believe me, they never, ever go for the cheapest option. It just doesn’t happen.

      Thanks so much for commenting BookChook!!

  3. I agree that online tutoring/teaching can break down the barriers and force a conversation about what is truly “good for the children”. But I would argue that native English speaking tutors (shameless plug for my own business) make it easier for students and adult clients to make progress in their studies using online math tutors. Cheaper is not always better; and choose wisely someone who has been in the public school system for many years, knows the curriculum and structure, and understands how children learn at different levels. Terry V

    • Hey Terry, thanks for the service you provide! If it was a choice between an Indian tutor or no tutor at all, would you agree that it would be a good thing? As other costs go up, this help more children get help, even if it isn’t optimum. Besides, in a few more years I think we will see realtime voice translation so that will change a lot of things like this.

      Thanks for commenting!

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