Companies making money from online students--by doing their work for them
MILWAUKEE - Relaxing and watching TV is a rare luxury for Jeff and Heather Unger of Menomonee Falls.
"We're definitely very busy," Heather says.
Jeff adds, "Yeah, we're very busy. With school and full-time jobs."
They're both getting their bachelor's degrees in Accounting, and decided to go the online class route through Lakeland College.
"Our weekends are full with homework," Jeff says.
In the end, Jeff knows it'll be worth it. He explains, "So many people being unemployed, you have to have everything you can to set yourself apart from others."
For some people, that may include using websites like 'wetakeyourclass.com' to cheat. The site offers 'experts' who will take your online class, or write a paper, for a fee.
It can be tempting, and this website banks on that temptation. So teachers have to combat the problem. Tanya Joosten designs online classes at UWM.
She explains, " You know, students are required to participate in discussions on a weekly basis. They have to take quizzes, they're doing group projects, more assimilations and experiential learning opportunities that would be very challenging just to have anybody jump in to meet those requirments."
The university also requires passwords for online classes, and is looking at other options to make the system even more secure. "It could be something where they're on a webcam so they can be seen, or they have to go through some sort of scenario where they have to provide info only they would know."
'Wetakeyourclass.com' did not want to make an official statement, but one of the founders told us over the phone he stands by their product. So the I-Team called up the site and tried to order a research paper. The company said it would not let us buy just one paper.
The website also claims to be a tutoring aid. In the FAQ section it says, "We are just providing correct answers to your questions. Once we release the answers, its up to you to submit those answers."
"I found that to be interesting, kind of like a loophole," Jeff exclaims.
Joosten says for the most part, students are honest with their work. "I think our students are very aware of the value of a dollar, and they are paying for a good education."
If they do get caught cheating, Joosten explains, "There's an array of different possibilities... obviously the worst case scenario is the student would be expelled."
Meanwhile, Jeff and Heather will continue to burn the midnight oil, and skip the online help sites.
"It's not gonna help me because I'm not learning the material. You're giving me the answers, so you're kind of letting yourself down by going along with it," Heather says.
Another way that universities prevent cheating is by requiring online students to have a third party serve as a proctor, and administer their tests. They may also have students take their tests at a neutral location, like a library, or a satellite campus.