The winds of change


The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the University of Houston is outsourcing some of its grading to Bangalore. Virtual-TA, provided by EduMetry Inc, is delivered entirely online. Graders hold masters degrees and as Lori Whisenant, a teacher of business law and ethics, states, “This is what they do for a living. We're working with professionals.” The obvious question that arises from this development is: given that Bangalore provides most of the students feedback, do the consumers of education even need a university? I would argue no.

Some teachers and institutions will feel that their position is being usurped if this process leads to its obvious conclusion. Their only hope will be to turn to the government. I don’t fancy their chances, as some established and powerful players already have some skin in this new game. After all, Oxford University already offers online and distance courses. At present, the branding of virtual universities falls short of those ‘real’ universities, but as with all technological revolutions, the shakeup in the system will lead to some new and very creative business models, amongst the inevitable destruction.