Cheating Has Gone High-Tech

Things sure are different from when I went to school. For one, cheating and schools' effort to curb it, have gone high-tech:

The frontier in the battle to defeat student cheating may be here at the testing center of the University of Central Florida.

No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student’s speaking into a hands-free cellphone to an accomplice outside.

The 228 computers that students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to photograph the screen — using, say, a pen with a hidden camera, in order to help a friend who will take the test later — is easy to spot.

Scratch paper is allowed — but it is stamped with the date and must be turned in later.

When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student’s real-time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in, and both sets of images are burned onto a CD for evidence.

Taylor Ellis, the associate dean who runs the testing center within the business school at Central Florida, the nation’s third-largest campus by enrollment, said that cheating had dropped significantly, to 14 suspected incidents out of 64,000 exams administered during the spring semester.

Trip Gabriel of The New York Times takes a look at the business of cheating (and catching cheats): Link (Photo: Steve Johnson/NY Times)

Isn't it easier just to, you know, study for the exam?

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My moral code against cheating did not extend to mandatory courses or required classes. I'll cheat on an art, foreign language, or music test as soon as look at you. I actually enjoy all of those things however.

At some point, only the most clever and most intelligent people will be cheating and stopping cheating so what's the point?

Back in my day it was the brute force cheat, break into classroom, jimmy open file cabinet, photo copy test, get a team to complete the test and print out cheat sheets in 3-4 point font. Team gets the answers for free, everyone else pays.
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the cheaters will hit a wall where the cost of cheating gets to be too high, and doing the actual studying is worth it.

this is a problem with mass testing. one way is to avoid it, however it's not cost effective to the profs.

administer the tests individually and orally. have the student stand in front of the teacher and answer questions on the spot.
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Chewing gum? Seriously? If they're so concerned about people on cell phones, why not get some undergrad engineers to build a system to detect broadcast-level transmissions within the confines of a perimeter of antennae. Or how about a directional microphone to drop in on someone who looks like they are chewing gum?

On a side note, I know someone who attended a school in Europe where they had an interesting approach. They would have a short interview the student to check how well they understood the content. It might be reasonable to assume someone who is cheating wouldn't do that great in an interview about the content.
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I think I've actually found a parallel between cheating on tests and software piracy.

1) Why go out and get them a game when you can have a friend give you a copy of his own.

2) No investment needed for equal gain.

3) You can accuse and convict as many people as you want, but until the distributers stop getting sloppy the issue isn't going to go away.

4) A lot of people are cheap/lazy, and other people know there is profit in that.

I know that some software exists which has the option of a free download where you can pay what you want, but I'm curious if such educational courses exist as well with that model. I've always been confused with all these court cases where layers are trying to convince every one of lost sales, when all those people that do pirate are the type who wouldn't actually have bought the software in the first place, just like people who take courses just to cheat on tests anyways. Unfortunately to weed these people out, you put everybody in stressful under the microscope situations, which can have an overall negative effect on everyone else studying and doing the exams properly. I'm probably just rambling and don't know if I'm going anywhere with this, but what the hell.
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