The University of Phoenix has settled a copyright lawsuit it hopes will help protect the academic integrity of online education, according to a press release.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this year against Chegg, Inc., owners of the site StudentofFortune.com. The case alleged that Chegg, Inc. had violated the university’s copyright over its course materials.
Although the university didn’t release the full terms of the settlement, University of Phoenix President Bill Pepicello said the terms include increased monitoring of the Studentofofrtune.com site by Chegg, Inc. to protect copyrighted academic content, as well as monetary compensation. StudentofFortune.com uses the tagline “Smart Homework Help,” and allows users to submit homework questions, and then choose to buy tutorials from experts in the subject they are questioning.
But the overall focus of the university seems to be less on this particular case and more on its “continuing effort to combat cheating,” as Pepicello puts it in the press release. The University of Phoenix offers one of the best-known online education programs, and online courses are becoming increasingly popular in more traditional institutions as well as online-only schools. U.S. News & World Report evaluated nearly 860 programs to form its list of the Best Online Programs.
As the number of online programs have continued to grow, so has the need for academic integrity of the courses. However, this has given rise to increased worries of cheating within the program. The L.A. Times reports that many companies have developed systems to curb online cheating, including a webcam that ensures those taking an online test aren’t using help within the room to cheat. This can be combined with other measures, including a locked computer browser and even technology that determines if a password is entered with the same rhythm it usually is.
A 2009 study by the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration found very little difference in the number of students that self-reported cheating in online classes versus those that admitted to cheating in live classes. 32.7 percent of students reported cheating in an online class, compared to 32.1 percent in a live class.
However, with the new settlement, it appears the University of Phoenix will continue to fight cheating, with Pepicello saying in a statement that the university “will take appropriate steps to protect the academic integrity of the university and the reputation of its many successful students and alumni.”