Western Oklahoma State College is popular with many college athletes looking for fast credit online. But players have turned to more than a dozen online programs to help stay eligible for sports. One of those programs, run by Ivy Tech Community College, in Indiana, offers about 350 online courses and has more than 32,000 online students.
Brandon Walker, a junior at Franklin College of Indiana, describes an online mathematics course he took from Ivy Tech several years ago to qualify to play football at his Division III institution. He later injured his knee, however, and never played for the team.
"Going into my freshman year, I was told I needed to take geometry before I could play football that fall. So they put me in an online class at Ivy Tech that they called 'E-School.'
"You pretty much taught yourself. If I remember, you had to take maybe 10 to 15 quizzes, maybe 30 to 40 exams. They never took long. I don't think I spent any more than 20 to 25 minutes on any test.
"You really didn't have to read any information or understand what you were doing. You could just keep clicking to the end and take the quiz. Then, if you didn't get a 75, they would refresh it for you... and make you retake it. Before you retook the quiz, they would give you the answers to every question you missed. Then they would automatically restart the exam, with the same questions and same exact answers. If I got a 60 on some, which I did, it would never show up. Only the ones above 75 got submitted.
"I couldn't believe it—all the answers were already there for me. I felt like the class gave athletes a special boost to get to the next level. It actually offended me a little bit. I never felt like I ever learned anything. It just eased me through to get me to the next level to play sports."
Ivy Tech officials say a handful of its online classes, which they describe as "developmental," provided students with the answers to quiz questions "as a teaching tool." Those courses are no longer offered. The college also says its systems were never set up to give out answers to every exam.