Wednesday, 6 May 2009

"You may take your laptop into the exam"? Imagine...

You can in Norway.

Well, in parts of Norway they're trying the idea out anyway. Every 16-19 year old gets given a special laptop which allows them to work effectively (well, that's the idea anyway) in school and at home - and now to experiment with using them in exams.

The secondary students are given a laptop by the government when they turn 16 to help them with schoolwork.

During exams the specially-tailored software springs into life to block and record any attempt at cheating.

From: BBC Website - Norway tests laptop scheme

The idea is that the laptops come preloaded with software that's needed by the individual - so other than standard word processing and spreadsheet packages, art or design students would get specialist software. Then the machines can be used in exams.

The principal is that because students are used to using specific machines and software, they won't have the difficulties that tend to be experienced when special software packages are used just for exams (i.e. working out how to do something in the "new" software).

The difficulty of "cheating" through communication and Internet access seems to have been dealt with by the system, although papers can be downloaded at the start of the exam:
When an exam starts, students go to a website to download the papers for their particular test. However, said the official in charge of the scheme, in some schools answers were completed on computer from paper-based questions.

"That's also why we have to monitor the laptops during the exams, because they are not supposed to have internet access and not supposed to communicate with other students," the official added.

From: BBC Website - Norway tests laptop scheme
I can foresee other problems as well mind you - what happens if a machine locks up or crashes? What about one of those oh so handy "Software has to close now. Do you want to send an error report?" messages?

And can you imagine how many extension leads you'd need to sort out the battery running out issues?!


Anonymous said...

Strikes me as quite a good idea as long as the anti-cheat software really does work. Otherwise it could all go pear shaped very quickly.

Blue Square Thing said...

I reckon that's pretty much the biggest problem.

That and the power supply, removeable media, technology freezing issues :-) One day perhaps...