Chandru Rajam is a business school professor here at George Washington University.

He manages a business — a grading outsourcing business.

Rajam stands ready to take all of my students’ papers and exams and send them to India for grading, thus relieving me of the burden of reading my students’ work. Which in turn removes the burden of my worrying about whether they’re learning anything.


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When I think of Chandru Rajam, I think of a spa. A spa where I lie down on one of those narrow firm beds and get a nice long hot rock treatment. The rocks feel funny when they first set them down on your back, but gradually — with the help of softly piped in music — you feel an all-enveloping warmth… Your muscles begin to relax… And somehow — it’s hard to put this into words … plus maybe it’s not the prettiest thought … But somehow your total relaxation is intimately related to your knowledge that while you are lying on this quiet table, breathing in smoke from gently guttering lavender candles, a harried Indian housewife is sweating through thousands of papers and exams — among them yours — that have been emailed to her from America.

And you think, “I deserve this. I deserve the guest lecturers who teach my classes for me, the ghostwriters who write my papers for me, the PowerPoint slides written by someone else that I read to my students, and all the other “edupreneur” innovations that allow me, as an American university professor, to be treated in the way I should have been treated all along. I’m a citizen of a wealthy, successful, first-world country. Since when should someone like me dirty her hands with grading? … I know my students understand this, because while I sit back and read the PowerPoint slides to them they sit back and watch films on their laptops… Bottom line: I really don’t need to teach; they really don’t need to learn. We have servants for that. At some point the students will check the slides, just as I’ll … you know… maybe scan the grading the Indians have done for me… Make sure they’re doing a good job. Meanwhile… ah. Another rock….”

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9 Responses to “Hot rocks.”

  1. Townsend Harris Says:

    The Soviet Union’s industrial workers had an acid observation about the value of the rubles piling up in their savings accounts in an economy with few consumer goods: “they pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.”
    Every semester several students effectively offer that corrupt bargain: “you pretend to teach me, I’ll pretend to learn.”

  2. DM Says:

    Academic publishers have already outsourced their editorial process to India or Estonia. I’ve even heard that some of these editorial companies are moving out of the purely editorial issues (typography, awkward English etc.) and into more fundamental matters (improving articles with the help of PhD graduates from the field).

    There is a long established tradition of “ghostwriting” – and, indeed, with the number of books that some people put out in addition to their teaching duties, speeches, and media appearances, it seems hardly possible that they do not use ghostwriters.
    There are already services where one can outsource computer programming. I thought that, logically, there would be services where one could outsource homework. Outsourcing grading is the logical next step.

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    DM: All true. On ghostwriting — I’ve written a lot about the topic. Ghostwriting is one of this blog’s categories.

  4. econprof Says:

    Think bigger: As next step, this company will have a subsidary writing the papers for students – and using the the same employees.
    Ah, this will be fun (just in case – if somebody wants to make a TV serial a la office – I expect royalities): Two levels of reality, like in LOST (here in the US and India) Somebody grading a paper he wrote (and contemplating how to mark it – because he knows all the weak points in the arguments), office feuds resulting in thrashing each others papers..

  5. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Funny, econprof! But probably already going on.

  6. theprofessor Says:

    I will only outsource the ones from the blockhead community. I wonder whether they will handle the whining for an extra fee?

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