Karen Symms Gallagher, Tribune News Service
Since there seems to be an app for everything, it may come as no surprise that there is an app for cheating. But it isn’t just one app. It’s hundreds of companies and apps that actually can be used to complete students’ homework, tests, writing assignments and even dissertations and exams.
But what surprised me most as an educator playing this cat-and-mouse game for decades is that cheating is now scaled and outsourced internationally and powered by venture capitalists, Wall Street investors and billion-dollar companies. One of the biggest companies whose services enable students to cheat, Chegg, is facing a lawsuit filed in September by major textbook company Pearson.
Companies such as Chegg and Course Hero offer monthly subscription formats — similar to Netflix — in which students pay $10 or $15 a month for round-the-clock access to resources including exam questions, textbook solutions and homework “help,” meaning that subscribers can upload a problem to their accounts and expect answers with proof within minutes or the hour. They also get on-demand access to many experts, often based overseas (Chegg employs more than 70,000 experts in India), with advanced degrees in math, science, engineering, technology, business, economics and other subjects. These experts, available online 24/7, are the source of step-by-step answers.
Companies such as Grade Bees and EduBirdie will even write your five-page reflective paper or 25-page essay, as original work, for varied prices. English-speaking writers from around the world are for hire, in some cases within days or even hours. Some sites and guides let the student know that their relationship will be closely guarded, and no, the student’s professor should not be able to find out, at least not under the right precautions.
Cheating is so rampant that Stanford University’s Graduate Student Council recently announced it had approved revisions to its academic honor code to allow test proctoring. If the changes go through, they will represent the first revision to the code since 1977, according to the student newspaper. Reported honour code violations there went up 114% in the last two years.
Multiple news stories have chronicled widespread cheating in colleges and universities, particularly in the STEM fields. This year, stories in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and UK publications including Education Technology have spotlighted the growth and profits of public companies such as Chegg.
Chegg reported 4.9 million subscribers as of the end of June, a 31% year-over-year increase, and $198.5 million in quarterly revenue, also a 30% year-over-year increase. Among its many services is a way for cheaters to leap over the hurdle of problem-solving questions, in which students are asked to show how they got their answers. Chegg’s experts on demand can personally answer the subscriber’s unique test or homework question.
As an unintended consequence of technology allowing remote learning and exams, students are finding more and more online venues allowing them to earn grades and diplomas by cheating.
How do we curb this global supply chain of cheating and its threat to the integrity of our students and educational systems?
The answer depends on the motivation behind the decision to cheat. Some students don’t think of it as cheating, as they are paying a legit company for the service; many feel pressured to get the grades and so justify the means. Other students may use these services to make up for the learning lost when in-person teaching was halted during the pandemic.
Many students who are cheating dodge academic consequences, as there are few technology solutions to capture original answers provided by experts, and plagiarism-catching software can’t detect original work bought and paid for by these students.
However, in 2020, Australian lawmakers made it illegal to arrange or advertise for sale certain cheating services such as paid essay writing. Did it have an effect? According to Forbes contributing writer Derek Newton, many of the biggest and best-known essay mills are ending operations there. But even then, fear of getting caught is probably not enough motivation to stop all cheating students.
Another action that should be aimed at contract cheating companies is getting Visa and PayPal to stop acting as payment intermediaries for them. And professors and their universities could join the Pearson lawsuit, though that may be a step too far for most risk-averse institutions of higher education.
With less than a month to go before summer holidays, schools in Berlin are about to reopen for normal classroom learning. It’s not much of a relief; I have a sinking feeling that my younger daughter learned nothing at all in sixth grade, when distance learning was mostly the only option.
Following a devastating year, twentysomethings fear for their futures. The coronavirus crisis has exposed serious generational divides. Aside from the obvious risks Covid-19 poses to public health, the long-term effect on Britain’s young
We had no tabs, mobiles, and smartphones to fiddle and fickle in the academy. There was nothing like Google or even the internet. When we were asked to carry out a project or a case study we had to sit and use our intelligence jotting
French President Emmanuel Macron seems to have scored a costly victory when he survived the no-confidence motion by nine votes in the National Assembly and he has managed to push his pension reform, pushing the retirement age up from 62 to 64. When the legislation failed to pass in the legislature, Macron resorted to Article 49.3 in the Constitution
Thailand’s general election set for May 14 will bring new faces into the fray but is likely to be over-shadowed by old animosity between the military-royalist establishment and popular opposition parties challenging the status quo. The confrontation in the kingdom has shaped a tumultuous two decades of street protests, judicial intervention and coups
A recent resolution by the Indian Ministry of Power (MoP) has introduced a new concept of ‘Renewable Generation Obligation (RGO)’ for power producers. Any upcoming coal or lignite-based commercial thermal power plant will have to produce a portion of its total energy from renewable sources. According to the new RGO mandate, the upcoming
Varanasi will soon get Uttar Pradesh’s third international cricket ground after Lucknow and Kanpur. I was really excited to read the news online on Monday. The construction of the stadium is expected to start this year. As per authorities, the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would receive the property