Among the technology-enabled changes in the human condition is the one of Biblical preference: teaching people to fish instead of merely giving them fish to eat. In the case of an October 14th blog by Kathrin Hille in the Financial Times it’s a case of teaching English to Chinese while living in the United States. It’s another innovative solution to a common telework dilemma: resolving the problem that trained workers are needed but none (or not enough) are available locally.
In this case, because of China’s emergence as a world power, millions of Chinese need to learn English—but there aren’t tens of thousands of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) teachers in China. On the other hand there are loads of ESL teachers in the United States, even in Wyoming, most of whom don’t want to move to China. So technology comes to the rescue. Videoconferencing, which a decade ago was out of the question economically, is now relatively cheap, thanks to ubiquitous broadband telecommunications. A group of high tech entrepreneurs has taken advantage of that fact.
Eleutian Technology®, originally based in Ten Sleep, Wyoming (population 304), proudly says it is “the home of the world’s largest network of U.S. Board Certified Teachers who teach English as a Second Language to students around the globe.” Now they are in the position of needing to hire 100 teachers per month in order to keep up with demand across Asia. The main teaching center in Ten Sleep (just East of Casper, Wyoming, and across from the Fire Rock Steakhouse) is open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week but most of the teachers are in one of eight other Eleutian centers in Wyoming and Utah. Teacher training is done in Casper. As its business expands the company plans to move its headquarters farther north to Cody, Wyoming, but will maintain its operations in Ten Sleep and nearby Casper. Eleutian’s initial business was primarily with South Korea and Japan but the Chinese expansion will add another dimension to the idea of going to work without actually going to work.
Just another example of the fact that information technology is allowing the home locations of millions of workers to be independent of the location of their sources of employment.