Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Way to Cheat

We had another person this week open up a website in full view of our test proctors to look up the answer to a question on the web-based test they were taking. Really? You're taking a test. Of all the ingenious ways one could think of to cheat, that's what you come up with? Of course, the really novel ways to cheat on our tests probably take more energy and time to pull off than just taking the tests, so it's not worth it.

An interesting company, Microvision, looks to have some cool laser-based projection technology that may make it easier to cheat in certain situations. Of course, there are many appropriate applications of their technology, but as with anything, there will be inappropriate uses as well.

A pair of glasses that can show video to the wearer could be used for many things, per their website, such as giving a speech, reading email, watching movies, viewing schematics while performing repairs, and more. Hook it up with a GPS and you can see a friend or acquaintance coming from several blocks away or follow directions to a restaurant. Or cheat during a test.

Of course, the cool products they have displayed on their website are much more interesting to me than facilitating bad behavior. The PDA-sized projector is pretty cool. The Heads Up Display (HUD) for cars will surely be common soon, so you can follow directions reflected off your windshield instead of having to look down to the nav screen mounted in the dash.

Hopefully professors and other teachers will embrace new technology and encourage students to use it for good purposes rather than be scared of it and ban it or (even worse) ignore it. Those who teach will have to adapt and choose different assessment methods that are not quite so prone to cheating as multiple choice tests. On second thought, that would require change - we'd better start thinking of something else.

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