My former colleague Oprah Winfrey reportedly resigned once the grading of  term papers got too much for her.

Luckily, for busy Oprahs and slightly less busy Baligas and Elys everywhere, capitalism has come up with a solution – outsourcing of grading to India:

Virtual-TA, a service of a company called EduMetry Inc., took over. The goal of the service is to relieve professors and teaching assistants of a traditional and sometimes tiresome task — and even, the company says, to do it better than TA’s can.

The graders working for EduMetry, based in a Virginia suburb of Washington, are concentrated in India, Singapore, and Malaysia, along with some in the United States and elsewhere. They do their work online and communicate with professors via e-mail. The company advertises that its graders hold advanced degrees and can quickly turn around assignments with sophisticated commentary, because they are not juggling their own course work, too.

The company argues that professors freed from grading papers can spend more time teaching and doing research.

Who does the grading and how do they know how to grade?  Answer:

Assessors are trained in the use of rubrics, or systematic guidelines for evaluating student work, and before they are hired are given sample student assignments to see “how they perform on those,” says Ravindra Singh Bangari, EduMetry’s vice president of assessment services.

Mr. Bangari, who is based in Bangalore, India, oversees a group of assessors who work from their homes. He says his job is to see that the graders, many of them women with children who are eager to do part-time work, provide results that meet each client’s standards and help students improve.

“Training goes on all the time,” says Mr. Bangari, whose employees work mostly on assignments from business schools. “We are in constant communication with U.S. faculty.”

Such communication, part of a multi-step process, begins early on. Before the work comes rolling in, the assessors receive the rubrics that professors provide, along with syllabi and textbooks. In some instances, the graders will assess a few initial assignments and return them for the professor’s approval.

When will I be replaced by a robot?