As seen in our previous post, spy gadgets are cheap and plentiful, available even on a high school student’s budget. Use of electronic cheating devices has escalated considerably since the days of pocket calculators. Here are some pointers for teachers looking to thwart the use of technology for cheating in their classrooms.
1. Thwarting Smartphones
Most older students own cell phones these days, and with the audio and video recording capabilities of typical smartphones, the devices are the easiest means for students to cheat. Still pictures or movies of tests and recordings of lectures are commonplace. Word processing functions allow students to type and record data to look at later during tests. Texting allow students to ask each other questions on the test. For instance, one student back in the dorm can look up answers in a textbook and quickly transmit them back to test takers.
Since jamming signal transmission is illegal, the easiest way to fight smartphone cheating is to simply collect them before the start of exams. Have students drop them off on the way in the door and retrieve them on the way back out.
2. Thwarting Hidden Cameras
As we saw in the previous post, camcorders and cameras can now be hidden in seemingly innocuous items like pens. A student can record every page of a test by simply leaning over it and aiming the pen in his pocket at the page on the desk. While these aren’t as simple to thwart as collecting cell phones before the start of exams, keeping an eye on student behavior during the test may help pick out cheaters. Keep in mind that objects like pens in shirt pockets, lapel pins and brooches may be hidden cameras. Since they are difficult to detect, student codes of conduct should address surreptitious videoing, with stern consequences if cheaters are caught.
3. Thwarting TVBGone
As seen in our last post, the keychain device TVBGone quickly cycles through the “off” code for hundreds of TV sets and monitors. This little gadget has also been used for practical jokes in the classroom where the TV set mysteriously keeps turning off, to the befuddlement of teachers. Since it operates as an infrared remote, you can thwart it by covering the infrared remote receiver window on the front of your classroom television with a bit of black electrical tape.
4. Thwarting Electronic Communications
As seen on a ZDNet blog entry recently, students can purchase communication “beepers” to surreptitiously signal one another (one tic for A, two for B, etc.) Radio frequency detectors might alert the savvy teacher to these devices, although pinpointing who has them might require more expensive equipment.
5. Thwarting Hidden Text
Examples abound on the net for students to sneak in a cheat sheet the old fashioned way: by written text. Common examples include printing answers on the back of soda bottle labels. As the soda is consumed, more answers become visible through the clear bottle. Placing answers under the bill of caps is also common. Since there is not an easy electronic fix for this low tech way of cheating, vigilance on the part of the teacher is the best option.
However, one idea to combat this form of cheating may be to purchase a fake camera and place it strategically in the classroom during exams. Laws vary regarding video in public places, but a fake camera can be a visual deterrent to low tech cheating. Since no video is really being recorded, no laws are at risk. Amazon has a variety of fake cameras here.