Paul L. Caron

Friday, June 5, 2009

The High Tech Alternative to "My Grandmother Died"

Inside Higher Ed:  The New Student Excuse?:

Most of us have had the experience of receiving e-mail with an attachment, trying to open the attachment, and finding a corrupted file that won't open. That concept is at the root of a new Web site advertising itself (perhaps serious only in part) as the new way for students to get extra time to finish their assignments. offers a service -- recently noted by several academic bloggers who have expressed concern -- that sells students (for only $3.95, soon to go up to $5.95) intentionally corrupted files. Why buy a corrupted file? Here's what the site says: "Step 1: After purchasing a file, rename the file e.g. Mike_Final-Paper. Step 2: E-mail the file to your professor along with your 'here's my assignment' e-mail. Step 3: It will take your professor several hours if not days to notice your file is 'unfortunately' corrupted. Use the time this website just bought you wisely and finish that paper!!!"

The site promises that students can stop using "lame excuses" like the deaths of grandmothers or turning in poor work.

While the Web site attempts to distinguish its service from cheating, it also advises students on how its services could make it easier for them to get away with turning in a file they know won't open. "This download includes a 2, 5, 10, 20, 30 and 40 page corrupted Word file. Use the appropriate file size to match each assignment. Who's to say your 10 page paper didn't get corrupted? Exactly! No one can! Its the perfect excuse to buy yourself extra time and not hand in a garbage paper. Cheating is not the answer to procrastination! - is!"

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