The excerpted article below is the third in the last several months to address the external sourcing of academic services, tutoring services in this case. The students quoted in these articles are positive about their experience and its relevance to completing their coursework successfully. The arguments against externally sourcing academic services, mostly from within traditional higher education, seem to be based on opinion, not data. For now, I'm in the camp that believes that tutoring companies, such as SmarThinking, provide a valuable, cost effective services to colleges and universities and their students.
For those who have read Friedman's The World Is Flat, I ask in Friedman's terms whether the services described in the article is an example of outsourcing, insourcing, or off-shoring? Your opinion?
Homework Help, From a World Away Web Joins Students, Cheap Overseas Tutors
Amit R. Paley, Washington Post, May 15, 2006
It was almost 3 a.m., Alex Del Monte recalled, and he was cramming like crazy. He gulped can after can of Red Bull to stay awake, but the George Washington University sophomore knew he would flunk his Statistics 52 exam later that day if he didn't call his tutor for help. But so late at night? Not a problem if your tutor works 8,500 miles away and 9 1/2 hours ahead in Bangalore, India. Bikram Roy, chief executive and founder of Studyloft.com, said the company gives its online tutors examples of the differences in how Indians and Americans speak the King's English. In an hour-long session that cost just $18, the Indian tutor, who said his name was Mike, spent an hour walking Del Monte through such esoteric concepts as confidence intervals and alpha divisions, Del Monte recalled. He got an A on the final exam. "Mike helped me unscramble everything in my mind," the 20-year-old said. Thousands of U.S. students such as Del Monte are increasingly relying on overseas tutors to boost their grades and SAT scores. The tutors, who communicate with students over the Internet, are inexpensive and available around the clock, making education the newest industry to be outsourced to other countries. Tutoring companies figure: If low-paid workers in China and India can sew your clothes, process your medical bills and answer your computer questions, why can't they teach your children, too? But educational outsourcing has sparked a fierce response from teachers and other critics who argue that some companies are using unqualified overseas tutors to increase their profit margins. Read more ...