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Monday, September 11, 2017
Digital Technology and the Enhanced Art of Cheating
When I sat the California bar exam a decade ago, the use of laptops for taking the test was still a relatively new thing. To this day, I can't imagine writing by hand for six straight hours, three days straight. But the administrators took laptops seriously, and we all had to install lock-down software that prevented us from using the computer for any other purpose during exam time.

Virtually nothing else was allowed into the testing site, and the things that were allowed-highlighters, earplugs, paperclips, diabetes medication (but not food)-had to be carried in a clear Ziploc bag. It all sounds so quaint now.

Enter wearable technology.

Test administrators are getting out in front of the problem. The College Board, which administers the SAT and AP exams prohibits all wearable technology in their testing centers. Students who try to break this rule during the GRE will be kicked out, their test scores forfeited. GMAT takers may not wear any sort of watch-digital or not. Many state bar exams include the same prohibitions.

So while professional test administrators have figured out the ease with which technology can be used to game an exam, oversight may be more difficult for, say, your average high school teacher. Add to this the contrast in digital confidence between millenials and their elders, and you've got a legitimate problem.

Just this week, the Boston Red Sox became embroiled in a cheating scandal involving a coach with an Apple watch. YouTube is rife with tutorials on how to use digital watches to cheat on exams. The Internet is unabashed with sites devoted to the topic (hint: you can whisper "derivative" to Siri and a list of mathematical formulas appear on your watch).

That technology is a double-edged sword is not a revelation. That students will continue to devise creative ways to cheat is a certainty. The biggest truth of all: keeping up with those changes will be critical.

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