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Reading, texting, 'rithmetic

Sure; when there are easy ways to send text messages around on little tiny devices, students will cheat. I wonder how you keep that from happening in the Steve Mann vision of always-on cyborgs? You’d have to actively jam the devices, since communication inside the classroom is as much a problem as access to the Internet. Or just retool to an open book system, which might be much better.


  1. Moving away from retention testing is an important part of combating any form of cheating, certainly, and for many technical disciplines it makes a great deal of sense. I know I don’t go anywhere without my context-sensitive help. The situation in the article could well have been an open-book test, though – the students were actually looking up the answer key, according to the article. Even if a professor gives an essay exam, students could reasonably email the essay questions to a friend, who composes and returns the essay for them to copy into their bluebook. You can take care of some of this style of cheating with time limits, but especially for essay exams that can be very punitive for students with poor handwriting skills. Plus, if the essay author is skilled enough, he can probably have the test-taker writing within the first 5 minutes of receiving the exam.

    The only real solution, which technology will rapidly catch up to and obliterate, and which only works for certain disciplines, is to present a great deal of information in the exam itself. I don’t know that I could manage to read a 640×480 JPEG of an exam question – but once phones have built in megapixel cameras, that’s not going to help, either.

    I think, honestly, the two biggest problems the university faces right now are summed up in these two sentences:

    “The accounting exam was monitored by proctors walking the aisles who failed to notice the cheating.”

    “The six Maryland students who confessed will fail the class and have a mark placed on their transcript that indicates they cheated.”

    I guess if your proctors are that inept, you don’t have much choice but to offer breaks like that to cheaters for confessing. As little as my degree means, I’m really glad it didn’t come from the University of Maryland, right now. Maybe I’m just bloodthirsty.

  2. Oh, and people with hair that covers their ears can easily wear a Jabra Freespeak without it being visible at all. They still have to have some way of getting the exam info out of the classroom, but then their assistant can just dictate the answer back to them – no transcribing from their cell phone at all.

  3. Heh. Good point. It’s amazing how many problems can be overcome with human effort. And they thought technology would allow us all to lead lives of leisure…

  4. kit kit

    A fake answer key with bogus answers was posted online after the exam began last month; then the exams were checked to see which test takers put down the bogus answers. … It is also a sign that students might have a technological edge on their older professors, she said. “It’s a generational issue,” she said. “It’s safe to say our students are far more sophisticated.”

    I donno. Seems to me like if the older generation had the sense to post a test with a wrong answer on the net, that the older generation is doing pretty well in the sophistication sector.

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