Universities vs. the high-tech exam cheats

High-tech equipment is being bought by pupils and students to cheat their exams. Should schools and universities fight fire with fire?

Schools are resorting to buying specialist equipment to trace or disrupt devices such as mobile phones and other exam cheating technology to battle the dishonest student. But with the wide ranging technology available, from mobiles to MP3 players, iPhones and handheld devices with wireless and 3G access to the answers, perhaps the traditional exams are no longer feasibly possible?

Ofqual, the qualifications watchdog in the UK, undertook a study which showed more students were penalised for bringing unauthorised materials - which can range from high-tech devices to crib notes written on the inside labels of drinks bottles.

My opinions on exams are clear cut and to the point. I don't like exams, and only seem relevant to testing the memory holding ability of the student. In schools, pupils are taught to pass exams whereas at university the general consensus is that students are taught because they want to learn. With dissertations being more often than not optional, an undergraduate bachelor's degree can only be justified with a written dissertation, in my opinion, entirely negating the need for exams.

Mobile phone jamming equipment is illegal in the UK and US as it could interfere with other equipment. However there is a possibility for change with the rising number of phones being smuggled into prisons. Body language detectors could be installed to monitor the expressions and activities of students undertaking exams, similarly to those in airports looking out for suspicious persons.

Or maybe fight fire with fire. In my first year as a computer science student, I was allowed to bring in my textbook with my notes to write a written programming examination. The exam wasn't to test memory but rather to test the research technique. Use technology openly by using resources such as the Internet to research the appropriate exam question - which tests research gathering and studying technique instead of memory.

But even with all the technology in the world, a good old fashioned Biro and your non-writing arm seems to be the best technique for university cheats.

What are your thoughts?

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