GoogleTranslate Service


Using computers in exams

November 4th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Late yesterday afternoon I had a phone call from BBC Radio Wales asking of I would come on the morning news programme to talk about the use of computers in exams. According to the researcher / producer (?) this was a debate opened up by a reform in Denmark. A quick Google search came up with the following article from the Politiken newspaper.

“Danish ‘A’ level students are likely to be able to use the Internet in their written exams if a test run later this year proves successful.

The Ministry of Education says that pupils already use the Internet for tests.

“It’s a good way to get hold of historical facts or an article that can be useful, for example, in a written social sciences exam,” Ministry Education Consultant Søren Vagner tells MetroXpress.

Digital hand-in

In order to prevent students from cheating by downloading translation programmes or communicating using chats, the idea is that papers should be handed in digitally and that there should be random checks on sites that students visit during an exam”

So early in the morning (at least for me) I got in and skyped into the BBC Cardiff newsroom. I was on the programme to defend the use of computers, Chris Woodhead, the ex Chief Inspector of Schools, was the opponent. And we had five minutes of knock around fun. The BBC preceded the item with three or four vox pops with ‘A’ Level school students from Monmouth in East Wales, who rather predictably said what a bad idea it was as it would penalise those who had worked hard to remember all the facts.

I said I thought on the whole it was a good idea becuas eit would allow students to use teh technolgie savaible in the ral worlls to show their creativity and ability to develop ideas and knowledge, Chris siad it was a bad thing because they would waste tiem surfing and it would prevent them showing their creativity and grasp on knowledge and ideas. and thatw a sit.

In reality, I think the discussion is a much deeper one over the nature and purpose of assessment. The ‘A’ level exam in the UK is essentially used as a filter mechanism, to select students for university. As such their is little authenticity. Students are inevitably taught for the exam. I saw some research a time ago suggesting that ‘A” levels are a poor predicator for later success in university but cannot find a reference ot that at the moment. The problem is that the examinations do not really test the students learned, but their ability to apply what they have learnt to a particular series of formalised tests. neither do the exams serve to help the students in their learning, Other than, I suppose, motivating them to learn a lot of facts in the run up to the exam. I fear that little of what we call revision for exams actually involves reflection on learning. And if the use of computers were to herald a move away from learning facts, to reflecting on meanings, then it could only be a good thing. But at then end of the day, I can’t get excited – and certainly couldn’t so early in the morning. The big issue for me is how to use technology to support learning. And that is another thing.

8 Responses to “Using computers in exams”

  1. Doug Woods says:

    I’m generally with you on this. However, I wonder whether the ‘digital divide’ could become an issue here in that those who had more use of computers at home as well as at school might have an unfair advantage over those who did not?

  2. lizit says:

    Very much in agreement with you Graham. For many years, and not only because I was no good at exams, I’ve been of the view they favour those with good memories. In real life, knowing where to find information and knowing how to use it effectively is generally more important. Although not introduced at A level as far as I know, surely there has been same negativity about exams where students see papers in advance and open book exams – and the same arguments apply that those who have learned material during the course do well and those who haven’t have little or no benefit from having access to resource materials.

  3. Mark Childs says:

    I’m with you on this one too, not least because anything Chris Woodhead is against has got to be a good thing. I’m the opposite of Lizit – I got through A levels purely by having a good memory and really failed to actually understand anything, a tactic which let me down when I got to university. Since then I’ve never found it a useful life skill to be able to remember lots of facts (just as well since the memory’s gone now too).

    We should be assessing the skills which are useful, like can students reason. Allowing them access to the Internet will also test whether they can they focus on the task and not get distracted by surfing (a skill which I still haven’t acquired). And maybe it is fair to test where students are on this digital divide thing; won’t students need to be accomplished at using digital technologies to succeed later in their lives?

  4. Ilona Buchem says:

    I agree with you that there is a need for discussion over the nature and purpose of assessment in education. Assessment is generally too often applied as an instrument of selection. But besides assessment practices aiming at selection there are also assessment practices aiming at self-reflection and feedback for improvement within the learning process, also in formal educational settings. Once assessment is embedded in the learning process as an integral part of learning, it does support learning. I believe that different technologies can be used for different forms of assessment to support learning.

  5. Lyn Rees says:

    “I wonder whether the ‘digital divide’ could become an issue here in that those who had more use of computers at home as well as at school might have an unfair advantage over those who did not?”

    It shouldn’t. Ability with the tools at your disposal is as much a part of the assessment as anything else… Does the fact that you red more books give you an unfair advantage?

Tweetbacks/Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by GrahamAttwell: Just did BBC radio debate with Chris Woodhead on use of computers in exams. My thoughts in blog post http://is.gd/4MFkY

  2. […] questions about the redesign of education. This brings me back to another blog read this morning, Graham Attwell’s reflections on the use of computers in […]

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Josie Fraser, Graham Attwell, JRafael Fernandez, sarahknight, Ricardo TorresKompen and others. Ricardo TorresKompen said: RT @GrahamAttwell Did BBC radio debate with Chris Woodhead on use of computers in exams,thoughts in blog post http://is.gd/4MFkY […]

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    Social Media




    News Bites

    Graduate Jobs

    As reported by WONKHE, a survey of 1,200 final year students conducted by Prospects in the UK found that 29 per cent have lost their jobs, and 26 per cent have lost internships, while 28 per cent have had their graduate job offer deferred or rescinded. 47 per cent of finalists are considering postgraduate study, and 29 per cent are considering making a career change. Not surprisingly, the majority feel negative about their future careers, with 83 per cent reporting a loss of motivation and 82 per cent saying they feel disconnected from employers


    Post-Covid ed-tech strategy

    The UK Ufi VocTech Trust are supporting the Association of Colleges to ensure colleges are supported to collectively overcome challenges to delivering online provision at scale. Over the course of the next few months, AoC will carry out research into colleges’ current capacity to enable high quality distance learning. Findings from the research will be used to create a post-Covid ed-tech strategy for the college sector.

    With colleges closed for most face-to-face delivery and almost 100% of provision now being delivered online, the Ufi says, learners will require online content and services that are sustainable, collective and accessible. To ensure no one is disadvantaged or left behind due to the crisis, this important work will contribute to supporting businesses to transform and upskilling and reskilling those out of work or furloughed.


    Erasmus+

    The European Commission has published an annual report of the Erasmus+ programme in 2018. During that time the programme funded more than 23,500 projects and supported the mobility of over 850,00 students, of which 28,247 were involved in UK higher education projects, though only one third of these were UK students studying abroad while the remainder were EU students studying in the UK. The UK also sent 3,439 HE staff to teach or train abroad and received 4,970 staff from elsewhere in the EU.


    Skills Gaps

    A new report by the Learning and Work Institute for the Local Government Association (LGA) finds that by 2030 there could be a deficit of 2.5 million highly-skilled workers. The report, Local Skills Deficits and Spare Capacity, models potential skills gaps in eight English localities, and forecasts an oversupply of low- and intermediate -skilled workers by 2030. The LGA is calling on the government to devolve the various national skills, retraining and employment schemes to local areas. (via WONKHE)


    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      pbwiki
      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

  • Twitter

    Steph - it is a bigger question - how do we ensure access and equity in education #OpenEducation twitter.com/steph_moore/st…

    About 11 hours ago from Graham Attwell's Twitter via Tweetbot for Mac

  • Digital technologies and parental involvement in education: the experiences of mothers of primary school-aged children tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.10…

    About 3 days ago from Cristina Costa's Twitter via Twitter Web App

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Categories