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Offshore/Outsourced Tutors/Teachers

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
There has been several companies in India set up to provide tutoring services to US students. It operates through a broadband connection with web and voice interaction coupled with a digital writing pad that allows the parties on both sides to see what is written. It is a one on one tutoring. The focus is on Math and English.

What do you think? Anyway that got me thinking. Setting aside issue of control of students in class, do you think it is possible to expand this concept from tutoring to some education roles played by teachers. It will help reduce class size and allow students to get one to one attention. And the tutor/teaching facility could easily be 24 hours such that the student can ask a question at anytime of the day. Video conference has allowed many people to have meetings without travelling and yet still retain the interaction so the fear of lack of interaction during the main lecture is potentially addressed.
post #2 of 13
We have people in India tutoring our kids in ENGLISH? Are you freakin' kidding me?
Sorry, I know that outsourcing is a good thing for people living in poverty in India. I honestly do feel for them. But I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HAAAAAAATE outsourcing! We need to take care of our own (and I'm NOT talking about the big company heads that outsource so that they can buy that vacation home in Aspen )- the people here in the US who are losing their livelihoods left and right because of outsourcing. Makes me sick.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
When you outsource, you can provide the products at a lower price. And that means that one on one tutoring is more accessible for lower income households.

As for English, India speaks English so setting aside issues of accent, the rules of the English language are the same. And accent can be trained such that the Indians in question speak with an American accent. Some phone operators/support firms train their Indian workers to speak with an American accent.

PS: While this topic is not exactly on outsourcing, I do not mind talking about it if you are interested since it is one of my pet topics.
post #4 of 13
I understand that people in India speak English....but have you ever spoken with someone in India over the phone??? I have the hardest time, say, fixing my computer problems because I cannot understand what they're saying (not trying to offend them, it's just a very very thick accent). I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for kids!
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Actually, the problem that you mentioned is one reason I believe people should be exposed to accents. Many people have problems understanding accents because they do not encounter it. Sure a very thick accent may be problematic but once people are exposed to slight accents they find it easier to understand. I have no problem understanding Indian or Chinese accents because I encounter it quite a bit.

And this understanding is VITAL especially since business and work is not confined to one country. I am not just talking about bosses or managers flying off to another country to complete a deal. But recently there is this concept of the 24 hour workplace. It is common in financial publishing, software development, etc. What happens is that the company has 2 or 3 offices, one in US, another in Europe and the third in Asia. Basically the offices are spread out across the timezones such that work does not stop at the end of the day of one office but what is done is passed to the next office with a short briefing and the cycle repeats itself.

Besides as I mentioned earlier, accents can be trained and the people behind the tutoring is more educated than your usual call operators.
post #6 of 13
While I understand that the labor is cheaper, we have a fair amount of unemployment in this country. Therefore, I would rather pay a little more for my services and goods and not outsource this kind of work to another country.

I know that there are college students and underpaid teachers right here in the USA working as tutors in their spare time. So, if it was up to me I'd see them utilized first before going to the cheapest option outside of our country.
post #7 of 13
Originally Posted by ugaimes
I understand that people in India speak English....but have you ever spoken with someone in India over the phone??? I have the hardest time, say, fixing my computer problems because I cannot understand what they're saying (not trying to offend them, it's just a very very thick accent). I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for kids!
Imagine then how hard it is for them to understand us

I have never actually spoken with anyone in India re: my PC problems. I always talk to someone in Alabama, Texas or Chicago.
Now, those accents are hard to understand
post #8 of 13
Originally Posted by bumpy
T It operates through a broadband connection with web and voice interaction coupled with a digital writing pad that allows the parties on both sides to see what is written.
Dont think accent will be that much of problem, visual stimulation overides aural stimulation. Anyway mathematics is known as the international language
post #9 of 13
Originally Posted by Loveysmummy
Imagine then how hard it is for them to understand us
Ahhh, good point. Touchè!
However, we're the clients for these companies; we're the ones calling these numbers for help. You'd think companies would be more aware of that when they consider who they hire to answer their phones. But all they care about is the money, plain and simple.

I worked telemarketing all through college (most of it was inbound; I wasn't one of those people calling you during dinner ). I couldn't have afforded college without that job. So many of those jobs are going the way of outsourcing now and I have a big problem with that!!
post #10 of 13
I didn't know much about this phenomenon of outsourcing until I did a little research.
As I see it, the US has been outsourcing (so to speak) blue collar jobs forever (labouring jobs go to Mexico or other third world countries) but this new outsourcing backlash is due to mainly white collar jobs being outsourced overseas (I see mainly to India but also eastern European countries)? From what I found the bulk of these jobs exist in the IT and other corporate areas.
Is this correct?

I have read differing viewpoints. Some say that the public outcry is unnecessary and that the high unemployment rate in the US doesn't coincide with white collar job loss numbers but rather mainly exists in the blue collar sector.

I am interested to hear US opinions (and others)...
post #11 of 13
i have to agree that outsourcing tutoring and teaching roles to other countries would be a bad thing. most of our teachers don't make a lot of money, especially when you consider how much time and effort they put into their work and the money they contribute themselves towards classroom supplies and such. if we start outsourcing some of these jobs, chances are some of these teaching postitions will start paying less and less as they are gradually eliminated and outsourced even more. i just don't see that being a good thing for the united states. i know enough people that are having a hard time finding openings for teachers they way things are now.
post #12 of 13
I don't think this is a good thing. We need to take care of our own. Even if it costs a little more.

Oh and I have been exposed to a lot of accents growing up and I still have a hard time understanding someone from India on the other end of the phone.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Here is something which I have written sometime back. Made a bit of changes to suit this discussion.

It is obviously bad for the people who lost their jobs but it is generally good for the economy as a whole.

Let me give you one gory analogy, which focuses on the negative aspects of outsourcing. A person is trapped under a collapsed building and his leg is pinned down. He can either amputate his leg or die. Is amputating one's leg something one normally wants, of course not. But is it better than dying, of course it is.

1) Outsource to protect remaining jobs
A widget may cost $10 to be produced in US but it only cost $1 to be produced in another country. Restricting production in leaving US may help save the widget industry in the US but for every other industry that requires widget it is an additional cost. And for US firms to compete not just domestically but internationally, one must ensure that they are not priced out of the market. So XYZ Widget Company may decide to shut its factory of 1000 workers in the US and move overseas but if company did not do so they would not be able to compete with other producers thus resulting in him not only losing the 1000 factory jobs but also the other 100 marketing and development jobs.

Recall how Bush initially tried to protect US steel industry only to result in lost of jobs in other industries that rely on steel and increase in prices.

2) Outsource v Mechanised
Alternatively, the company has to reduce its cost or it will go bankrupt and option X is to outsource 800 jobs where the savings would allow the company to keep 200 jobs back home. Option Y is to mechanised the entire factory such that 950 jobs is made redundant and only 50 workers are hired. I do not believe one would say that Option Y is better because no outsourcing was done.

3) Wider service and Lower prices
People often argue that they may be willing to pay a bit more to keep the jobs in the country. BUT there are many poor people who are unable to pay that bit more and as a result the poor suffer.

If the poor are not able to afford hiring a local tutor for their child's education, then any restriction on getting a cheaper service abroad serves not one. It does not serve the child as he is getting no tutor and neither does it serve the local tutor as the poor cannot afford them.

4) Jobs outsourced and insourced
Its a two way street. Jobs may be outsourced out of US but jobs are also insourced into the US. (http://www.ofii.org/insourcing/) The US is generally the largest recepient of Foreign Direct Investment, except in 2003 where it was pushed into second place. So to claim there is no investment in the US is a false assumption.

The US sell lots of goods and services abroad that is produced in US. If outsourcing is bad then the US should not conduct such trade. Unless one adopts a hypocritical position on outsourcing that it is ok if the US is the recipient of the jobs but if some other country benefit then it is bad.

5) Bad working Conditions Abroad
The conditions of work are terrible by US standards but compared to not getting anything at all it is better. It could improve but to expect standards on par with developed nations is not realistic and detrimental.

Several years ago an Adidas factory was closed down in South Asia due to protests in the West, which resulted in workers losing their jobs and many female employees having to work in the sex industry as a result, yet the people who protest have no interest in the new situation.

Another example often used is that of Mexico but that is false since Mexico is one of the most trade dependant nations in the world and when the US had a recession from 2000/1 onwards growth the Mexico took a huge hit.

6) What the liberal democrat economist says
I have used comments by liberal economists to show that the positive effects of outsourcing is not something that is accepted only by conservatives.

Now for a more "diplomatic" comment on the issue check out what Robert Reich, secretary of labor under Clinton have written.
Remember there is a difference between throwing up protectionist legal barriers that distort trade and prevent outsourcing and protecting US jobs through innovation, education and flexibility. The former harms the economy, the latter improves it.

Let us examine what the liberal economist Paul Krugman and one of my fav economist, have to say on this. In case you are not too sure who he is, he was the person that called Bill O'Reilly a "quasi murderer" on national TV to his face.
And a nice explanation on why putting up protectionist barriers to outsourcing may end up damaging the economy more than the worst case of outsourcing where there is no replacement jobs.
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