A stunning Chronicle of Higher Education article on the new cheating economy in the September 2016 issue exposes the dark underbelly of online education. In a comprehensive investigation, the Chronicle outlines the extraordinary criminal exploitation of online learning today.
From academic imposters who will literally take classes for hire, to writing boiler rooms that churn out theses and even dissertations, to scams that steal billions of dollars in loan funds a year…how much longer can this crazy denial last? It’s a criminal takeover and clear threat to online education’s continued existence.
It’s not that they aren’t solutions. But mostly, Higher Ed refuses to act. What is really going on? Inertia. Diffused responsibilities. Most of all, missing the financial imperative. By ensuring academic integrity by upgrading LMS security, you can potentially recover a significant sum in lost loans. But this message is clearly not getting through.
The burgeoning underground has exploded in the last few years, siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars into a shadow academic buy-and-sell marketplace. We’re not talking about just paying for term papers. Now term papers are commissioned. They’re original – and pricey – so you can’t find plagiarized text anymore.
Or consider the promotion-hungry professional who hires someone else to complete his degree. This extremely sophisticated penetration of online learning systems exists to scam grades, degrees and money from your school. The logical end is the destruction of your reputation.
The problem is driven by very poor data management, security and controls, and the illogical use of antiquated tools to identify students. For an industry that evolved rapidly with technology, it is striking that so few have become early security adopters.
And you should know that Laws in at least 17 states prohibit students from using cheating services to complete their assignments? This means fines and jail time-it is serious and as awareness and use of companies for hire grows don’t be surprised if your Attorney General comes knocking to enforce unlawful preparation of academic assignments at your school. Hope that does not go viral.
But here’s the thing. All online systems have a learning management system. Your LMS. It logs in students with a user name/ID and password and allows them into your environment. You may add proctoring on site or virtually but other than confirming you have a carbon unit in the seat for one hour, user name and password is the only credential used to provide access to all other gradable assignments.
Hold it right there!
You’re ripe for a scam.
You can’t prevent criminals from logging in with those credentials as your student.
People share log-ins all the time. And a fraudulent student will with their accomplice. Unless you are literally maintaining a live human checkpoint review with photo ID, you won’t know.
You can’t prevent criminals from taking tests, classes or scamming degrees. You can’t prevent them from registering, taking loan money and disappearing.
Unless your system can categorically identify that the intended individual is logging in, you have no credible reporting. You can’t estimate your potential risk by using pattern recognition or sophisticated techniques to flag possible impending fraud.
In effect, you can’t assure businesses or any other entities that the student actually completed the degree. Its inherent value is diminished.
What do you do in a world where kids ship their textbooks to criminals so they can pass the course? When they have payment plans now??
I will look like a genius for proposing it?
Yes. Yes. And Yes.