Sunday, June 04, 2006

Teach42 - Education and Technology, by Steve Dembo » Cheating? Of course it is but….

This captures the essence of the friction between good instruction and how technology can uproot poor instruction quickly. Teach42 - Education and Technology, by Steve Dembo » Cheating? Of course it is but….: "Cheating? Of course it is but…. Filed under: Musings — Steve @ May 31, 06 | 1:22 pm Via Dan Mitchell NY Times At the University of California at Los Angeles, a student loaded his class notes into a handheld e-mail device and tried to read them during an exam; a classmate turned him in. At the journalism school at San Jose State University, students were caught using spell check on their laptops when part of the exam was designed to test their ability to spell. And at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, after students photographed test questions with their cellphone cameras, transmitted them to classmates outside the exam room and got the answers back in text messages, the university put in place a new proctoring system. Yes, it’s cheating. I know it is and it’s wrong. But let’s look beyond that for a minute and abandon our stranglehood on traditional means of testing. Let’s take an alternate look at the UofNevada students. Pretend that they’re in a world history class. One of the questions is 'Who won the war of 1812?' They message the question to a friend, and a friend messages the answer back. Problem solved. I know that the intent was to get the student to memorize the answer, but is memorizing a fact really more important than being able to find the necessary answers under adverse conditions? Let’s say the quesiton was, 'Why was the War of 1812 inevitiable?' That requires much more than a simple one word answer. Nobody is going to text in that one. They could text in a couple of conditions, but the student is still going to have to synthesize the information and compse an answer. And isn’t that what we want them to do? When I was working on my B.A. at UofIowa, there were more than a few times that I had open book tests. I hated them. Why? Because without fail they were always much harder than ‘close book’ tests. They rarely asked easy questions. They required you to really think critically and prove your ideas with facts. I’d love to see professors make more tests open book, open PDA, open Wikipedia and open cell phone. Let students use every resource available, but still make them prove that they understand what they’re talking about. Which prepares them more realistically for the world they’re going to encounter when they leave school?"

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