Students Access Facebook & Web During Exams

By Erik Qualman

Some progressive Danish schools are allowing students to access Facebook and other social media sites during exams.  Some of the more interesting points from Judy Hobson’s BBC Column include:Dannish Social Media

  • A total of 14 colleges in Denmark are piloting the new system;  all Danish schools have been invited to join by 2011
  • Students can access any site they like, even Facebook, but they cannot message each other or email anyone
  • Pernille Günther Jensby, 18, says:  “It’s possible to cheat but I think we have so much respect and self discipline, so we won’t do it.”
  • The nature of the questions make it harder to cheat. Students are no longer required to regurgitate facts and figures. Instead the emphasis is on their ability to sift through and analyze information.

Stephen Heppell, professor of new media environments at Bournemouth University, says UK examinations need to be brought up to date: “As a nation we’ve been really good at embracing technology – we’ve been really at the forefront of doing this well in the classroom.”  However Bournemouth points out:  “Then they go into the exam room and all that’s taken away and they’re given a fountain pen and a sheet of lines paper and a three hour time limit.  It’s time to get real, isn’t it?”

Hat tip to Judy Hobson for a great article.

Do you think this is the wave of the future or a modern day “cheat-sheet?”

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9 responses to “Students Access Facebook & Web During Exams

  1. Interesting. Can’t see it working in the UK though!

  2. Well, i think it would need some time to be tested before it could really be evaluated. I agree that application what one should really be tested on. In an exam the net would be great for fast facts, but it might be hard to find instructions for solving doifficult problems, unless of course you saved them. But I often had open-book exams, and hardly ever used the book because it took too long to find the info (not as much of a problem online). Might be good for adding specifics to essays written in class I guess.

    Really I think this might help universities move away from exams altogether. I think projects are a better way to evaluate one’s ability to actually accomplish things.

    • Kathryn:

      Great point about in open book finals that it took to long to look up answers; I often experienced the same thing. Wonder with the beauty of search if this has helped…although we all know that search is far from perfect, but that social media is causing Google, Bing, Yahoo to step it up otherwise those searches will be done via social media.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. You’re right, Erik, about the real-world use of calculators and so on, but there’s also a point to be made about the capacity to tell when the answers from the tools aren’t right. Of course I use a spreadsheet at work, but I also try to have an idea what sort of answer I expect. Basic quality control.

    And if you don’t know how to do the sums anyway, then you’ll never be able to tell when you’ve goofed with the calculator. GIGO and all that. So I’m not entirely sure about ditching entirely knowledge and understanding contained within the person.

    I know there’s a reductio ad absurdam counter argument, which is that I don’t know how to program excel so I therefore shouldn’t rely on its results, but I don’t think that really takes away from the basic point. The more you understand how something works, the more you’ll get out of it, and the more you stay in control.

    Its an interesting experiment in Denmark.

    Anyway, thanks for the interesting article. I got here via Mike Metelits’ tweets – he heard you present the other day. I’ll check out the book.

  4. Eugene Kozorovitsky

    The idea that accessing the internet during exams is a powerful step in the right direction is a horrible misconception. It’s bad enough students can’t help but look over each others shoulder, now they can look over the shoulder of the professors that wrote the books their test is on.

    Julio – memorization and regurgitation of information is part of the process of education suffering. An effective professor should know how to link those with individual analysis – particularly on exams.

    When I was in school we weren’t allowed calculator watches.

    • Eugene:

      Thanks for the counter point! To your point about the calculator watch, I would argue that during your professional career you’d never have your boss stop in and say “hey, what do you think you are doing using a calculator?!” The calculator is a device that helps you solve complex problems, so the key is teaching the process on how to solve the problems. That being said I agree that some forms of traditional memorization etc. its helpful to have.

      Keep the ideas coming!

      Best, Erik

  5. I am glad to see that a European country is piloting this new system. I hope soon other countries are going to follow this system too and I fully agree with Julio’s comment.

  6. The answer is a bit of both. A student’s brain should be taught BOTH to store information in context AND have the ability to analyze data that they have studied. Tests should not be entirely research as the student then has no need to come to class. There needs to be rigid instruction, study and then take the information I gave you and use it to solve a problem. The regurgitation is in the problem solving.
    but NO, I have never believed in rote memorization, it is impractical.

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