Sunday, September 30, 2012

Academic Fraud 2.0

When I moved to Asia, I pretty much stopped assigning writing as homework. One of the main reasons was because it was too simple for a student to have a tutor write the assignment for them. But academic fraud, or academic dishonesty, or academic honesty (for you optimists out there) isn't only an issue in Asia. It happens everywhere and with the explosion of websites and online tools, it is growing at an alarming rate; especially at the university level. Don't believe me, professor? Let me introduce you to American Homework
What exactly do the good people at American Homework do? They do your math or science homework for you. Who do they hope to serve? American university students; a great market with some disposable cash. Nice, eh? The interesting part with this website is that I found it from Dave's ESL Cafe and Craigslist. The American Homework team is focusing their employee search in countries like Philippines, Pakistan, and India. I have nothing against people in developing nations making a buck off some rich kids (comparatively); but, should students from the developed nations of the world be using these people as a form of academic economic slave labor? There are some ethical questions here that go well beyond simple academic integrity. Why do students in the US think it is fine to purchase the correct answer? I guess they have learned their new tricks from the business world -- outsource the jobs to some place where labor is cheaper. It is sad to see that this idea has spread to doing homework.

But the people at American Homework aren't the only ones out there making a buck off of lazy US students, people on are also into it. If you are unfamiliar with Fiverr, allow me to introduce you to the website: it is an online market place for people to exchange services for money. People are willing to do work for five dollars (hence the name of the site). One of the services you can purchase is help with your homework.

Clearly discussions about academic fraud aren't going away anytime soon. As educators at any grade level, we need to stop and ask ourselves how we can encourage students to learn to love learning, not simply find the correct answer as quickly and cheaply as possible. Parents should encourage their children to learn and worry less about the grade attached to the learning. University professors should ask themselves, who is really doing this homework?