Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A cunning plan, or a culling plan? Education on the edge of reason

Just when you think it cant get any worse, it can.
Today i am seriously asked to consider outsourcing marking to the other side of the planet.
The latest 'cunning plan' is argued in terms of better consistency and saving us from re-training markers each year. And here's a paper for discussion at Mondays meeting:
Some papers are uploaded to Bangalore to be graded
alongside its serious brochure from VTA.
This surely is a solution in search of problems.
Where i work has made 110 people redundant over the last 4 years, presumably this was due to lack of work...or at least lack of work that might make use of these people's expertise... what I cant fathom is expertise from the other side of the planet is apparently better?
And its all sold with a cost-benefit ratio that's "completely in our favour".

A slippery slope?
mmmm just maybe
If they can do online PE classses, sneakers optional you can also do weight training online...

Hoping it was all a bad joke I responded to this latest innovative technological holy grail and ask:
Please tell me its got to be tongue in cheek
Maybe we outsource our work like we have students who outsource their work ...
Except buying someone to do your work when your a student is called cheating...
When its the institution its called efficiency.

The response back: Not being funny - we already out source the marking to Teaching Assistants, many of whom are not New Zealanders - so there is little difference.

Time for a joke?
What's worse than a full glass of digital hemlock?
A half a glass of digital hemlock
... ROFL ...

Love to know your views,
1. Should taxpayer money be spent on paying for tertiary students assignments to be regraded from the other side of the planet.
2. Should content be so homogenized that its not a problem for people in Bangladore or any other place, to mark it?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:04 AM

    sounds like this is the model ? (the comments are instructive ! )

    - guess another question is: why are you designing assessments in large classes that perpetuate these kinds of solutions to the economics of 'marking'? there are plenty of alternatives to the 'term paper / exam' model of assessment ...

    on the other hand the 'casualisation' of academic labour is an economic reality, but we are still grappling with many issues. Students in higher education increasingly are taught by tutors who do not hold a full-time academic post. In some institutions the majority of teaching is by such individuals. They may be part-timers whose careers
    involved undertaking several such teaching positions; they may be professionals who contribute part of their time to sharing their
    professional knowledge and skills; they may be university employees, typically post-doctoral researchers or technicians, whose main focus is
    directed elsewhere; they may be post-graduate students. In the US the term
    ‘adjunct faculty’ is sometimes used, but this is usually restricted to
    part-time teachers, and the phrase ‘para-academics’ is also occasionally
    used to describe this group. In Australia the terms 'sessional staff' or
    'casual academic staff' are used. Often these individuals are engaged
    without any training or development and are under-supported in their
    teaching endeavours. The extent of use of sessional staff, the effectiveness
    of their teaching efforts, their integration into the broader teaching and
    learning environment, their training and development are under-researched...... Bland Tomkinson, University of Manchester, UK & Maureen Bell, University of
    Wollongong, Australia are editing a book on this.

    You will still need to employ PG students - but preferably not through an outsourcing model unless this is linked to institutional and national quality process - and a 'middle way' solution needs to be found to create opportunities for more secure employment and real academic careers for academic casual employees see eg.,%20L.%20Gale,%20I.%20Campbell.pdf