Apple Watch: Get ready for cheating in the classroom

A recent situation in a vocational school classroom points out that the Apple Watch is a cheater's delight.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

Note: Due to the volatile situation parties would only talk to ZDNet on condition that identities would not be disclosed.

Cheating in school has probably been happening since the first one-room schoolhouse doors were opened. It seems there are always those willing to risk getting caught to get the easy, perhaps better, grade.

What changes over time are the tools used by cheaters to avoid getting caught. Currently the smartphone is the cheater's device of choice. cohorts can send test answers to those taking the same test as long as discretion is used to avoid getting caught.

Many schools and teachers have caught on to smartphones used for cheating and they are not allowed out on the desk. Some teachers confiscate them at the beginning of class on test days. This makes the smartphone less useful for those cheating on tests than before.

That's why we may be on the brink of a new phase in classroom cheating using smartwatches. The way the Apple Watch works makes it a cheater's dream utility. This became clear to me when I heard about an actual episode in a classroom using the watch from Apple.

A colleague dropped by a few days ago and she was in a huff. She attends one of the nursing schools in the area and the day before she noticed her classmate was using the Apple Watch to get test answers while taking the test. Being that my friend is anti-cheating, after class she reported what she saw to the professor.

The instructor was surprised that an Apple Watch could be used to receive test answers during the testing period. It had never occurred to him that he should be checking students for the practice during a test.

He launched an investigation over the cheating, and the subsequent retaliation against my colleague by the cheater for reporting it

When I explained to the professor how the Apple Watch works in this scenario he quickly realized how difficult it will be to catch those using them to cheat in class. When a cohort sends a text message to the cheater with a test answer, a simple "tickle" to the wrist signals the incoming text.

All it takes is raising the wrist and nervously glancing at the watch to see the correct answer. Drop the wrist and the text message disappears.

Since those taking tests often nervously check the time to see if they can finish, the actions of a cheater will not raise any alarms with those administering the test.

According to the professor he doesn't believe cheating by Apple Watch has been a problem in his classroom as he rarely sees anyone with them. Perhaps that might change if the Apple Watch was a big gift item this holiday season.

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