Monday, November 29, 1999

Desi grades for US universities

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New Delhi, May 16 -- Barack Obama's protestations notwithstanding, overworked faculty members at American universities are kicking off another wave of outsourcing by farming out grading of assignments. Army officers' wives, homemakers and young mothers working are turning into virtual teaching assistants (TA). Working flexi hours from places such as Kalimpong, Srinagar and Chennai, they communicate with the faculty on email and phone to grade answer scripts and provide feedback to students of institutes such as the University of Houston, Roosevelt University and University of Northern Iowa. "It's about priorities, I won't have to compromise on my family," says Chennai-based Meenakshi Srikanth, 32, a mathematics postgraduate who quit her last job after she had her second child. Helping women like Srikanth find their calling its virtual TA service is Edumetry, a Bangalore-based company. "Free your faculty. Leave the mechanics of assessment to us," is the company's tagline. It charges around $12 (around Rs 540) per assignment and the assessor earns between Rs 10 to 20,000 a month. Virtual TA is the brainchild of IIT/IIM alumnus Chandru Rajam, who teaches at the George Washington University.

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