A relatively new form of outsourcing that has come up because a great deal of scientific
talent exists in India
combined with the culture of technical support that exists there as a result of nearly a decade of outsourcing. Much of the revenue that is fueling development in these countries comes from young professionals talking to Americans
over the phone about why their computers don't work. But this ideology has created a path of communication between two vastly separated regions as well as a class of people who work from 3AM to Noon. Now, with a Silicon Valley
startup leading running things, those same young men and women are teaching small classes of American students at hourly rates that are substantially reduced from the rates that tutors charge here in the US.
The technology has existed for a while. Web-cameras have been common for a decade now and this simply takes advantage of a confluence of various factors in internet technology. What we've arrived at is a method for the dissemination of knowledge from the Indus valley as it has never before imagined. The only drawbacks from having a tele-tutor is the likelihood of an outage and the occurrence of an inability to communicate with the tutor. But these issues are overtaken easily by the cost benefit of tutoring at rates that are substantially reduced. This presents an interesting new business plan for education, one that is more centralized and corporatized than freelance tutors or even tutoring businesses in the United States. The company, called Growing Stars offers a number of courses of one-on-one tutoring up to the AP/SAT level. The idea of making a profit off of education isn't new, however the change in the cost of this tutoring is rather staggering.
As a tech support employee, I've worked with similar technology and I recognize its power. While highly dependent on the skill of the instructor, one-on-one telecommunication is a robust tool for the explanation of ideas, the troubleshooting of problems or even the teaching of adults. However, teaching the basic and intermediate academic subjects to young people may not translate as easily given the differences in teaching philosophy that exist between the corporate and academic world. As an observer of this divide, I would wait until these ideas and practices have had time to mature a little. However as ideas go, this is one of the more innovative interactions between technology and education I've heard of.