By Brendan Clarey / Chalkboard News
Article from The Center Square
Cheating is nothing new. But the methods of how it’s done are constantly changing. There is currently a market hidden in plain sight for the subset of students looking to graduate high school without completing their online coursework.
Critics say online courses taken at home may allow students the opportunity to copy and paste questions into search engines to find the exact answer on websites like Brainly. Additionally, students can use social media and messaging apps to find people or software able to complete their schoolwork for a fee.
Chalkboard has reviewed social media accounts on platforms like Instagram and TikTok that offer to complete student homework for them. Other homework help is available on Telegram or Discord, which are instant messaging platforms.
On TikTok, Chalkboard saw a number of accounts that offered to complete Edmentum or Edgenuity courses for students for a fee. Some accounts even put the cost of finishing a course into the video comments. Another account said the price was dependent on how much of the course was already completed.
To avoid promoting them, Chalkboard is not naming accounts or providers offering to complete online courses for students for payment.
While TikTok declined to provide a comment about its policies in time for publication, the platform has removed videos and accounts flagged by Chalkboard demonstrating how users advertise completing coursework for other students or provide tech-based workarounds.
At least three videos and one account were removed as of Monday morning. Other users offering to complete online courses in exchange for money were still active on the site.
The most common courses users offered to work on were Edgenuity and Edmentum, with other online course providers like PA Cyber and Acellus Academy making an occasional appearance in the posts reviewed by Chalkboard. A hallmark of the accounts is to post videos of courses being completed with the final grade.
Some of the videos include the abbreviation “CR” on the classes, which could be a reference to credit recovery classes. Credit recovery classes allow students who have previously failed courses to retake them so they can graduate on time while meeting the criteria to graduate.
Viewers are encouraged to direct message the users, who then get in touch with them about rates. Accounts also post reviews from satisfied customers, including those who say they graduated because of the help.
One video on an account that is no longer active showed a conversation with a customer who sent a photo where someone wearing a graduation cap can be seen behind an image to conceal the person’s face.
“You made it possible,” the message underneath it says.
The user also posted a picture of a text that appears to be from a customer’s teacher. The student’s name, Jamira, is seen elsewhere on the courses being completed.
“Super proud of you!” the teacher appeared to write on the now-deleted post. “You not only got right to work, but you are taking this seriously and making it happen! Awesome job!”
Another TikTok account offering to “get your classes done” is still active. The user also posts positive reviews of satisfied students.
“Proud customer you made me graduate,” reads a text in one of the screenshots posted.
“It would’ve never gotten done because I wouldn’t have had the time,” reads another reviewer. “I really appreciate it.”
That same TikTok user said earlier this summer that their Instagram account was shut down after a “student with zero morals” reported their page.
“I don’t scam. I’ve been doing classes for over two years. I’ve worked for my page and to earn trust,” a photo uploaded on TikTok says.
Parent company Meta did not respond to a request for comment about Instagram’s policies concerning accounts that promote academic dishonesty.
One Instagram user advertises “answer keys for every course and every test” for Edmentum.
One program, which still advertises its services on TikTok, offers students a subscription-based solution for an AI-powered coursework completion program.
“Canvas, Blackboard, Brightspace, Google Forms, D2L, Moodle,” the technology’s website reads. “Learning platform not listed? No worries! We provide universal support with our ‘Text Selection’ and ‘Snapshot’ features!”
Subscriptions for the “AI study sidekick,” which provides instant answers on exams and coursework through a Chrome extension, cost $17 monthly or $60 yearly.
There are also a number of technology workarounds for students willing to pay based on messaging applications. These include a Telegram channel dedicated to a Google Chome extension that “cracks hacks Edmentum and helps you cheat on Plato answers 2023.”
Another group of “tutors” based on Discord offers students a way to cheat on their online exams, even those monitored by teachers. Students have posted positive reviews saying that the “tutors” helped them pass quizzes and exams.
“They did multiple HW assignments as well as my final exam they aced all assignments I asked for help with!” wrote one satisfied student.
As Chalkboard has previously reported, critics of online credit recovery courses taken at home say they allow students to cheat on assessments by using Google to search for answers. A former public school teacher near Atlanta, Jeremy Noonan, has been outspoken about the vulnerabilities of courseware provider Edmentum and resigned over his concerns.
Noonan posted a video in which he demonstrated how he says students were able to cheat by copying questions and finding answers on a website called Brainly. In one case, a student completed a 33-question Algebra pretest in under 18 minutes while getting a 97% on the assessment.
TikTok users have demonstrated in posts and comments how students can use Brainly’s app to scan questions and get answers or simply drop the questions into search engines.
Brainly has an honor code page on its website, where students are told they are “never allowed to post questions directly from tests, quizzes, and assessments, or copy answers found on Brainly during tests, quizzes, and assessments.”
Students are told they can report violations of the honor code. The company did not respond to Chalkboard’s request to know how many violation reports were filed in the past year. The company instead compared Googling answers to looking up answers the old-fashioned way.
“Using a search engine to find answers to questions on a test is the modern-day equivalent of opening a textbook or referring to one’s own notes to find the answer,” the company told Chalkboard in a statement.
“However, there is no doubt about the value of textbooks or taking notes to prepare for a test or help with a school homework assignment,” the statement continued. “There’s no doubt about the value of Brainly and other edtech platforms to help students and parents in these situations either. ”
The company touted its AI and live help features, which it says make its help more personalized. It also referenced its honor code. Brainly did not respond to questions about whether the company can tell if answers to tests and quizzes are posted.
“Brainly’s Honor Code is the blueprint for high standards of academic integrity,” the company said.
Brainly answers appear at the top of search results after copying test questions referenced in Noonan’s video about Edmentum.