Another new technology, another ban from universities, another way to turn off students.
The Internet started for most of us in the mid 1990s when the web became popular. That was about 20 years ago so we are now seeing students in universities who have always had Internet access. In another 5 years we will be able to say that about all of them. There have been many studies about how the brain is restructured by our modern technology. This seems reasonable because the brain is a neural network which constantly rewires itself to adapt to stimulus. I look at a college student with a smart phone the same way as a senior citizen with a hearing aid. Both can do without the devices but they have adapted to function most effectively with them.
Our methods of learning are designed to work with devices that have all the answers. For years now some universities have banned laptops in classes. This then has moved on to smartphones and now it looks like it is moving on to wearables like smartwatches.
Apple’s smartwatch innovation has had an unexpected side-effect. BuzzFeed News has learned that universities have starting issuing blanket bans on all students wearing watches in exam halls – because invigilators can’t tell whether students actually have a mini-computer strapped to their wrist.
With the popularity of smartwatches set to rocket when the Apple Watch is released in April, multiple universities having begun taking precautions to stop students cheating by using the devices during this summer’s exams. Such devices could allow students to look at notes or subtly receive messages during exams.
In my opinion, students should have access to all resources they would use in the workforce. We live in a world of instant information, except in some schools apparently. If accessing information via portable device is cheating, then the test needs to be changed. Test instead on construction of knowledge and manipulation of information to solve larger problems. Let students collaborate as long as they can demonstrate individual mastery of what you need them to know. Give them project based assessments so they can take their time rather than a high stakes, high pressure testing session in school. We have known for a while that Internet addicted people suffer withdrawl symptoms, so is that a good time to test them?
Most significantly, if students actually wanted to know the information, they wouldn’t cheat. What does this tell us about forcing them to take classes they don’t want?
Students are changing. Why won’t some universities change with them?