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The future of cheating

When I was a lecturer I only remember one specific case where I caught a student red-handed cheating - she had a cheat sheet filled with small and crammed notes on the topic (World Religions 101). No doubt there were some I missed, but generally I don't think it happens an awful lot (at least in the type of place I taught). Copying/passing answers probably happens relatively often, but what I'm talking about is the preplanned full-scale operation.

I remember trying it once, in physics or chemistry: I was scared that I wouldn't remember certain formulas so I copied them onto a small piece of paper and was able to consult it during the test. The thing was, because I had spent the time copying them down so carefully, I actually didn't need the cheat sheet in the test! :-O

Anyway - today's musing is inspired by an article on BBC - China hi-tech exam cheats jailed. Basically, they either got hold of the exam papers from a teacher (who faxed them once the exam started), or scanned them in the exam hall and transmitted them to people outside - then the answers were told to the students using "tiny earpieces"

Invigilating in exams is an extremely boring thing to do, so I would sometimes amuse myself by thinking of different strategies for cheating, and the key thing that stood out was obviously the phone and other wireless devices. The current way of dealing with that is to ban all handphones, PDSs, etc. from the exam halls, but as time goes on - it will become easier and easier to have hidden cameras, transmitter/receivers, etc. (as has been used in China). Looking even further ahead, there will come a time when people can have chips wired in to their brain to 'hear' calls and so on.

Therefore, ultimately, the solution will have to be either use some form of wireless phone jammer, or just go straight ahead and build customised exam halls that are designed like a secure room where no signals can come in or out - i.e. copper in the walls and stuff like that.

The other solution is just to do away with exams - the principle of an exam is that it proves that you have a certain level of knowledge, and you can deliver it in a useful manner while under pressure. This is a very good skill for a doctor, for example, or a lawyer perhaps; but most of us will work with easy access to lots of information, and our key skill has to be able to locate the proper information and use it appropriately. With that in mind, maybe there should be less remember-and-regurgitate exams, and more of the problem-solving type - i.e. you're given a problem, resources (books, certain websites on a restricted intranet) and you have to come up with a solution in a relatively short time.

New Netplace


Well I finally had to get rid of the old pc: its 3D rendering was so spotty it was giving me a headache, and it's just too wierd transmitting in 2D into a 3D meetroom. So the new one has a proper 3D imager, and all the latest gadgets.

It has an integrated personal chip reader, which of course also means that I can now connect to the worldnet from home - which is why I'm staring this new netplace today. To get it registered and allowed access, I had to take it to the Electronic Ministry to get it tuned to my chip, a long queue and rude officials - as per usual - but it was relatively painless. So no more public net access points for me! :-D I was so sick of having to go there whenever I wanted to do some research for my studies.

It's strange to think how people used to just go on the net with no controls at all, it must have been like being invisible and taking the maglev to work - making faces at the guards and peering at people's vidreaders. My grandfather once told me how he had been obsessed with girl in his school, so he had opened his own netplace, and had pretended to be a woman to try to make friends with her. And it worked! No one knew who he was and netmates believed he was a woman. But it worked too well, and he never dared tell the girl, for fear she'd get angry at him... :-P