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Question: Ang Lee owns and operates a well-respected online tutoring firm, Tutoring University (TU).
Question:Ang Lee owns and operates a well-respected online tutoring firm, Tutoring University (TU). The firm was started in 1996 by a group of Johns Hopkins University college students who wanted to make extra money to help defray their school costs. Originally, students offered their services to only Hopkins students. Lee sought out the best students in every field at the University and created a team of students that encompassed every major offered by the school. The tutors charged hourly fees. The service proved to be very successful. The student tutors who started with the company were able to pay most of their college expenses by offering tutoring.
From the outset TU established a code of conduct for its employees. The code's underlying principle was that all employees were expected to live up to the traditions of a tutor, namely;
- Tutors are individuals who provide private instruction, coaching, or mentoring to one student or to a small group of students.
- The role of the tutor is to help the student to learn, think critically, and problem solve on their own.
- Tutors take steps to help the student understand that learning is a process that requires acts of reading, listening, comprehending, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
- Tutors would never agree to do the work for the student.
- Tutors would never encourage the student to cheat by creating materials that would be presented as the student's own work or create templates that answered an assessment with little to no work from a student.
Upon graduation in 2000, Lee decided to partner with one of the student tutors, Josh Jenkins. Jenkins was a business school graduate. The partners initially expanded the business by setting up tutoring services at other universities across the country. TU became well known and its tutoring services were recommended by the NCAA for teams in the association. The business had $10 million in gross sales by 2004. Riding high on success, and recognizing the growth of online education, Lee and Jenkins decided it was time to expand the business by offering services to students taking online courses.
Once the partners established services for students taking online courses, in 2005, the partners once again sought to expand the business by looking into tutoring students for the standard testing programs used by college and university admission boards. By 2010, the company had increased its gross sales to $20 million and by 2013, the company boasted $35 million in gross sales.
Although TU's online tutoring market experienced significant growth, the industry saw many new entrants into the marketplace. other Companies began to offer tutoring services. The business model of these companies include several features that TU did not offer. First, students have access to a document and quiz repository and secondly, students are able to purchase or exchange quizzes or papers from the repository for a fee. Lastly, students could solicit the assistance of tutor by paying them to enter an online classroom to complete the required discussions and assessments.
Lee and Jenkins recognized the potential growth for TU, especially since the popularity of these organizations were growing exponentially. In an effort to compete with the market trend, Lee and Jenkins decided to move the company forward by adding the following services to its model:
- A repository of term papers, flash cards, projects, PowerPoints, videos and exams created by the tutors that can be purchased by students.
- A repository of term papers, projects, PowerPoints, and exams created by the students that can purchased by other students looking for help on current assessments.
- All purchases will earn points that the students can use toward future services.
- A subscription to a citation machine that will perform all academic in-text citation and reference formatting for the student.
- Tutors for hire (these tutors would offer services to write papers for a price per page or for approximately $500, enter an online classroom taking the place of the student completing all graded assessments).
Shortly after the new model was rolled out, the Marketing Department came out with a promotion of the new services called "Let Us Help withYour Homework for you." Television and radio commercials entice students to purchase the papers, videos, etc. by telling customers that the product would be customized to the assignment requirements.
Further, some of the services are advertised as being less costly since many of the papers are written by students submitting his or her work into the repository. Tutoring services are marketed as top quality individuals knowledgeable in many disciplines. One commercial features a tutor seated at a computer working while the student is at home watching the TV.
Spencer Tracy, a former tutor and Director of Tutors is worried about the promotion and finds the content unethical. Further, he is concerned that this promotion will place the tutors in a compromising position with respect to the expectations of the customer - the student!
- Identify and discuss the two business dilemmas presented in the case scenario. Identify the facts relied upon to make the selection.
- Explain the role "Code of Conduct" played in the dilemma selection process. Did the presence of the Code of Conduct create either of the dilemmas? If so why, if not why?
Identify and discuss the two common ethical issue categories to which each of the business dilemmas belong.