Yesterday I wrote about a growing trend in business where companies hire labor for small tasks. They don’t take on full time workers, they just hire somebody for very short periods. There are many websites now that allow employers to connect with people with skills. (ex. Top 15 Best Micro Job Sites) Programming has been doing this for a few years with sites like code-jobs.com. This idea of having a resource for just when you need it is known as fractional ownership. Ordinarily it is used more for property, like time shares for example, but with the Internet you can now do it with people and their time.
So my big question here is will there be such a thing as a fractional teacher?
A typical student doesn’t need help all the time right? Some students need more and some need less help but overall they can do a lot themselves. Eventually though they get stuck and need a teacher to help them. If they are in the classroom, they can usually get some help but what about when they are at home? Is it possible to have a site where teachers can connect up and go online, ready to answer questions and tutor students? I haven’t looked for one but perhaps such a thing already exists. It would be fascinating to see how this worked. If the student has a learning profile loaded, they could be matched with teachers who suit their learning style. If you include machine realtime voice and text translation, the teacher could literally be from anywhere in the world. Naturally, students could “favorite” the teachers they like the best (they could also block the ones they didn’t).
So who would these teachers be? Well, I think they could be anyone. Not everyone wants to be a full time teacher, but many people would enjoy teaching just a little, especially if it was a topic they were an expert on. For example, let’s say a chef at a restaurant likes to teach a little on the side. He could have an app on his phone that watches the match site for people with specific cooking questions. If he wanted to, he can jump online, and teach someone something for a few minutes and then be done. That would only take a “fraction” of his day, thus he would be a fractional teacher. Now some teachers would offer paid sessions, but I bet a lot of people would do it because they like to teach. Some might even be teachers leaving the public school system (see Teacher Job Satisfaction Hits 25-Year Low)
One of the big challenges we have in this century is our world is getting more complex and requires more knowledge and skills to succeed. This problem is global. There is a whole developing world that would be transformed if they only had access to a good education. The US public school model is vastly too expensive to do anywhere else so something much cheaper will have to be tried. This idea might be part of that solution.
I believe one of the characteristics of a future learning system is that everyone is a student and everyone is a teacher. A system like this might help enable that if everyone contributes a fraction of their time and talent.