Makes sense to me. I like it that the teachers unions are upset. I think we should encourage our students to explore whether they get much out of this kind of tutoring. If it is coaching them on how to pass exams I don't see anything wrong with it. Now, if the tutors are simply being hired to do homework, that's another matter.
And outsourced tutoring makes a lot more sense to me than the other, more respected, kind of distance learning. The kind where a name university hands out degrees to people who may have hired someone to go online to do the "learning" for them. How does the university do due diligence in distance learning? I guess there are ways, but call me skeptical that many do.
Here we give students permission to go to summer school elsewhere and get transfer credit. But we sure don't let give them transfer credit for course taught by distance learning -- regardless of the quality of the school. It's way too easy and affordable for some of our students to commit identity fraud.
(Via the always reliable New Economist who, evidently, always does his homework.)
UPDATE: This morning (April 6) our principles of microeconomics meeting was about comparing "no trade" (autarky) to situations where trade is allowed. I asked my students when trade would not be permitted. We came up with this list:
- It is outlawed by the home government - protectionism
- It is outlawed by foreign governments - trade sanctions
- It is prohibitively costly because of bureaucratic red tape - The Raj (India)
- It is prohibitively costly because of transportation costs
What about examples of the latter? We came up with:
What are the weaknesses of these examples we wondered?:
- In the U.A.E. you don't have to fly to India to get a cheap haircut. Instead you bring in 10,000 Indian barbers on 3 year work visas and turn them lose on the economy.
- In the U.S. high school students can go offshore for tutoring. Witness the article Dr. John coincidently blogged on last night on a whim.
I reminded them I was not suggesting that any students at this university had ever outsourced their homework, let alone a paper. Nor was I leading them astray.