Writers group helping Okanagan College students cheat on essays, exams | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Writers group helping Okanagan College students cheat on essays, exams

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February 26, 2021 - 7:00 AM

A group that says it will write exams and essays for Okanagan College students is trying to find new clients through Facebook.

Bloom Writers sent a Facebook message saying they "provide plagiarism-free top-grade papers" to an iNFOnews reporter after they were identified as a history student in an Okanagan College new student Facebook group.

The unidentified group of four writers said through WeChat, an encrypted messaging service, they offer tutoring services, but will also write full essays from scratch for $15 USD per 275 words. They also said they will create PowerPoint presentations for $6 USD per slide, as well as provide editing and proofreading services for $6 USD per page. Prices are negotiable for online exams or quizzes, where Bloom Writers will take an exam in the student’s place, they said.

READ MORE: Cheating a 'free-for-all' at virtual Canadian high schools, teachers say

Bloom Writers describe themselves as a “team of professional writers and tutors ready to assist you with your school assignments,” according to the group’s Facebook page, which says they are from Shelburne, Ontario.

When asked about the ethics behind writing essays for students and about being caught, Bloom Writers said never had an issue with any of their clients — including 20 from Okanagan College — as it was hard for professors to know that the student’s essay wasn’t written by the actual student.

Bloom isn't the only organization to take advantage of pandemic protections that has students from high schools, colleges and universities are forced to take classes, assignments and tests online, somewhat anonymously. 

Ashley Robinson, with the Okanagan College Students' Union, said this is the first time she’s heard of a group reaching out to students via social media and it’s a first for other student union members as well.

Exams have been open-book during the pandemic, but the one exception is you can’t communicate with another student while doing the exam, she said.

“You can literally send anyone to do your exam if you send them your login, so the possibility is actually there. I didn’t know that existed, let’s just say that,” she said. “There’s been no chatter on the web about it.”

Typically, if a student is caught cheating, they can be kicked out of school and there’s also a risk of other educational institutions not accepting you, she said.

Okanagan College provost and vice president Academic Andrew Hay said a group writing essays and tests for students is a violation of the academic integrity policy.

“The work done in any course has to be the work of the student and the student alone, so having a third-party do the work for the student is of course completely outside the bounds of academic integrity because we have to evaluate the learning of the student,” he said.

Occasionally, these types of organizations will try to take advantage of students and “lead a student down a wrong path. This is clearly something that isn’t allowed by Okanagan College,” Hay said.

When a student identifies something like this, the college will take appropriate steps to prevent it from happening further, he said.

If students are caught writing papers for other students, there will be an investigation under the academic process, and if it’s found a student is cheating or offering services like Bloom, “there could be very severe consequences for the student, right up to expulsion from the institution,” Hay said.

Professors also remind students of the academic integrity policy and plagiarism policy so students are aware of the college’s policies about having others do their work for them, he said.

Okanagan College will look into this matter, he said.

“We certainly don’t like groups... like this trying to take advantage of students in this way because that’s really what is it at the end of the day, some students can make unfortunate mistakes based on something like (this) and we certainly don’t want them to fall prey to something like this,” Hay said.

Tyler Finley, Okanagan College associate director of public affairs, said now that the issue has been reported, Bloom Writers will be removed from the Facebook group as they have violated college policies.

An Okanagan College administrator does monitor posts and comments to ensure they are appropriate but it’s difficult to monitor the page for Facebook accounts like Bloom Writers don’t use their own names or there aren’t ways to identify the users for various privacy reasons, he said.

Okanagan College encourages students to report inappropriate behaviour and Finley will ask the group’s administrator to remind students that inappropriate interactions can always be reported to the administrator and to remind students of academic integrity policies, Finley said.

Bloom Writers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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