People beyond Australia will be interested to catch the news item “Phone a friend in exams”.
A SYDNEY girls’ school is redefining the concept of cheating by allowing students to “phone a friend” and use the internet and i-Pods during exams. Presbyterian Ladies’ College at Croydon is giving the assessment method a trial run with year 9 English students and plans to expand it to all subjects by the end of the year.
This is part of a pilot study to examine potential change in the ways in which the Higher School Certificate (HSC is the final pulic examination for all students in New South Wales) might be run.
Read more about it from Chris in The Truth is Out There.
I’m impressed with some of the thinking in your response Dean. Yes, it is so easy to be swept up with the hype, and to loose sight of the foundational issues in learning 21st century style. It is interesting that Mark Prensky sent the school he personal message of support. Again, it is easy for media (and Marc)to talk about broad concepts without doing the hard core pedagogical thinking that your response demands that we all get involved with. Thanks for you insights. We all need to talk more about this.
I have issues with this. Firstly, that the nature of evidencing learning is changing, and I think having kids use ‘online spaces’ to show their development over time – and particularly in school certificate and HSC is massively more innovative. The media of course have focused on the hype-news factor. If you change the nature of daily learning, make it a normal activity, then I believe that they will sit exams better anyway. Phone a friend? Why do that when they can work collaboratively during the course. Secondly, I can’t see how they are ever going at specify a ‘board approved phone’. They change too often and vary too much in specification. Next comes equity. Not all kids will have the same opportunity to call, or even get access to the network. Having a computer again, means that each machine must be the same specification and SOE, with equal bandwidth – unless the board of studies creates approved examination centres, and even then the distance kids will have to travel makes it un-equitable.
To me this is a hype-article, and may well generate discussion. It also promotes the school – but what I really don’t see much more beyond that. Innovation is great – and Chris is well known for that in Australia – but delivery on a scale makes this little more than a discussion point. The idea is not new – Will Richardson has been widely advocating the ‘open phone’ exam idea for a long time.
Were technology works best is in the classroom, to develop learners to build quality eFolios, to teach them how to un-bebo their language and communicate ideas. I have seen massive improvements in HSC assessment tasks – purely based on re-thinking the pedagogical approach. There nothing new in this idea, and nothing new in the idea of computer-based examination to me.
The media as usual are interested in creating debate which the article does, but it detracts from the core problem – how do we effectively embed digital literacy – use read/write pedagogy to evidence improvements in learning – which is what I really want to ‘see’ in action. What is PBL doing daily in their classrooms, that changes learning. Exams are not going away anytime soon. There is a massive place for them. Rather than phone a friend, it would be better for students to be able to use their own URLS as references to prior classroom learning.
For example : “Spacial equality is the ….. (define) … this applied to the assessment task that I completed at …. (insert URL) … in which I (justify)”
Sorry for the long reply Judy – but I really think this article was more hype than substance, and is not something to ‘trial’. Kids don’t need us ‘trying ideas’ – they want us to deliver better learning prior to exams, and I would be far more interested to see how PLC are doing that, than ‘phone a friend’ which is way to flippant a headline and de-values what a lot of people are doing. I am sure PLC has more going on than this too. But that doesn’t make a catchy headline. (Maybe I was in advertising too long). Anyway – thats my take on it.
Thanks for highlighting this article Judy.
My take on this is that those students with the critical literacy to effectively access, synthesise and be creative with the “entire sum of human knowledge” will be most in demand in a knowledge economy. Giving them access is a great place to start, actually facilitating the development of critical literacy is the important part.
What an exciting to time to be born with an inquiring mind!