The Future of Cheating

In the face of twenty-first century technological equipment, it’s no wonder that students utilize devices for dishonest means.

Ask any student, and they’ve seen it: the phone cleverly placed on the lap, the earbud reading off pre-recorded answers, or even the subtle notes scrawled across one’s palm. However, at least these methods are fairly simple to trace.

This year, though, a new category has taken the tech sector by storm, the rise of the smartwatch. To put it simply, if you think cheating constitutes an epidemic now, just wait until the entire school is outfitted with these smart devices.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is usually a great indication of the year’s coming tech trends. And this year, tons of companies showcased their new wearable products; most notably Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and the Pebble Steel. What’s generating the most buzz, however, is the impending Apple iWatch that’s rumored to be released sometime this year.

The idea behind this new breed of timepieces is simple, put the user’s phone notifications at a glanceable distance. The product would also include scaled down phone apps, and health tracking features. In theory, it would extend your phone’s capabilities, without you having to take it out of your pocket.

For teachers, these devices will quickly escalate to a living nightmare. The device will be small enough to conceal, and yet powerful enough to store any study materials, cheat sheets, and texts.

So now what? Is the answer really for educators to immediately collect students’ mobile devices including their watches? Or is it time that we apply a different approach to how we approach these issues.

“There’s no way to collect around $10,000 of equipment from students and ensure they get the same device back,” says Mr. Christopher Ciparelli, Social Studies teacher at BHS.

Ciparelli also noted the various other forms of cheating that already take place such as hand-written notes and listening to pre-recorded audio files and podcasts. He explains how Smart Watches will change the paradigm of cheating, but ultimately serve as an extension of what already occurs. “We’ll see how this plays out when every student owns one.”

One just has to wonder, if students will have 24/7 access to the answers on the internet, wouldn’t it be much more beneficial to allow them to utilize their resources rather than memorize countless spurts of information?

Take a subject like math, where the knowledge of certain formulas and calculations are necessary to solve a given problem. Currently, students must tirelessly memorize countless expressions and technical strategies to succeed. Alternatively though, if students had the given information on their wrists, educators would remove the methodical drudgery of note memorization. Since at the end of the day, the formula doesn’t work unless the student knows how to actually use it.

However, Ciparelli states, “If I’m trying to teach my students about a certain subject, and they simply copy an essay answer verbatim from the internet, I don’t know if they fully learned the certain concept. Plus, the internet can easily be wrong.”

In all, having that instant access to a wealth of information opens up new cheating techniques. If Bethel’s mission statements really calls for the increase of technology in the classroom, is this really wrong? Or should teachers prohibit the use of these devices come test time?

We’ll soon know the answers to these questions, as these devices will reach 36 million by 2018 according to internetretailer.com, with the iWatch serving as the catalyst for the sharp change in consumer mindset.

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