Online courses have seen a surge in popularity, which has led to an increase in the number of paid services that can impersonate students and perform their work.
High school was a time when I was prone to cheating. I mean every day. I still remember writing chemical formulas on little pieces of paper which I then attached to the bottoms of my dress shoes using transparent tape. I had all the information I needed when I crossed my legs.
Before the internet, that was before online education. It seems that cheating has become part of the online education system. Freelancers and entrepreneurs now openly offer services to students who want to cheat their online educations. These digital cheaters for rent will even take on students' identities and offer entire online classes.
One of these companies was No Need to Study. I asked if they could help me take an online English Literature class at Columbia University. I was contacted by a customer relations representative who informed me that the company could get a ringer to help me take my online class and could even guarantee I would earn a grade of B or better. I was informed that the fee for such an arrangement was $1225.15.
The extra 15 cents made it official.
I asked for more information so I was certain I understood the company. They replied, "We offer the services a pool experienced academic tutors to teach classes and complete course work on behalf of our clients."
No Need to Study even offers reference videos which show happy clients describing how easy it was to have someone else take their online classes. Muhammad, a client, describes how he hired the company for his math lab courses. He had previously taken the classes, but found that the quizzes were "just too difficult". So he began searching for a solution. He continues, "They got it done and did really, really good." "They destroyed my final maths and app classes with a 95%, and I can tell you that I've never received a 95% on anything before."
Online cheating is not directly linked to the rise in online education. However, more online courses means more students who can be cheated on. According to the 2014 Online Learning Survey almost a third (33%) of all higher education enrollments in America are now online. Nearly 7 million students have taken at least one online class. Others statistics show that the number is slightly lower at around a fourth of the total student population. This means that there are millions of potential customers for providers of cheating services.
Online education is already expected to become a $100 billion industry. Online degrees could have even greater impact on employers if they are recognized as more valuable. An online education marketplace could revolutionize higher education by allowing online degrees and certifications to be recognized as the same as traditional on-campus programs. Some online education advocates are keen to see this happen. Kevin Carey, an online-education advocate, wrote in March that he was looking for credibility in online education. In a New York Times opinion piece titled "Here is What Will Truly Transform Higher Education: Online Degrees Seen As Official."
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