The Internet, Entrepreneurship, and Cheating

Clay Spinuzzi at Blogging Pedagoy writes about new innovations in getting one's homework done:

Slashdot has some links to a discussion about how students are cheating in college, including leveraging Wikipedia, Turnitin, and so forth. One of the more intriguing links was to Student of Fortune, which appears to be a brokering service for, er, tutoring.

My traditional, glib response to worries about cheating has been that as long as the instructor comes up with unique, situated assignments and reviews drafts during the writing process, it's not an issue. But that solution works for instructors teaching small numbers of classes in small sections. And the measures described here, especially Student of Fortune, can counteract the countermeasures.

As Spinuzzi notes, students can "outsource" their homework, thus circumscribing attempts to design assignments to avoid cheating and plagiarism. Actually, although the technological methods are new, the concept is not. I remember in 1969 when a friend of mine was paid to impersonate another student for the entire semester for a Spanish class. A problem occurred when he fairly quickly realized that as a Spanish major he might be recognized by another professor who would wonder why he was sitting in an introductory Spanish course. Student of Fortune, however, makes it considerably easier to find someone to do their work and easier to line up people to do that work. And there's considerably less risk of being detected. The Internet has enabled cheating to reach new entrepreneurial levels.