Published on Aaj.tv blogs on April 30, 2012
Published on Aaj.tv blogs on April 30, 2012
Use of anything like keynotes, books or calculators is considered as cheating during examination. Denmark, up to most surprise, has tried to break up this stereotype thinking and conducted the experiment by allowing the students to have access to the internet during ‘A level’ examination. In a debate on BBC almost 70% of the participants declared it as cheating. Is it really cheating? What is the purpose of our stereotype exams? What hurdles could we face to conduct this type of experiment in Pakistan?
For more than a century, purpose of the examination has remained to test the student’s ability how he can perform in practical life. What he knows and how he can use them? As the education and examination system was build in the era when there was less availability of facts and figures and one has to rely more and more on his memory to solve the problems? So the examination systems were developed with the purpose to test the memory of the student. With the passage of time, technology has entered in daily life usage and people rely very less on memory and use the artificial memory of computer and internet to store facts and figures and use them with better effect for practical life but the examination systems are still carrying the old age idea. So with each passing day, abilities require for practical life are going away from what are tested in current examinations. So it is highly required to remove the gap..
In professional life only hurdle that a person face during any task, is of time. No one declare him cheater if he consults some book or internet and perform the task in time. Idea to memorize all the facts and figure was also come from saving the time. Getting all the facts and figures from the internet also do not take time if properly searched. So only task remained is to properly use those facts and figures to perform the real task. In this way allowing internet access in examinations can check the student in the better way for the professional life.
Most of the Pakistani students just like students all over the world, use internet for learning and improving their skills. According to e-Learning Foundation pupils who use computer at home perform better. If in routine life students and professionals use internet for better results so testing the students without the use of internet doesn’t carry enough weight. Pakistan just like Denmark should experiment in its examination systems by allowing the internet access.
Allowing the resources in the exams is not a new concept. Allowing the internet access is just a new form of open book tests. According to Mark GE, Witney, UK in BBC report, “Use of the internet is the same as any open book exam; the pupil can check formulae or dates, but how they use and interpret that data is (should be) what is being tested”. Although not standard but open book tests are quite common in some Pakistani universities. So there is a room for this type of tests to be experimented in Pakistan. But to experiment them in secondary and secondary exams require total change of mindset as main stream educationist have even never liked open book tests in Pakistan.
Problem in current Pakistan education system is the cramming of subjects to get more and more marks. This is encouraged when student is asked to reproduce the content of the text book. According to the view of US educational psychologist Joseph Renzulli , current examination system all over the world is based on three Rs “ram, remember, regurgitate”. As a result student focuses less on understanding and more on cramming. Most of the psychologists also agree that the one who uses the facts to make something new are far better than who just remember them. Bringing internet in examination can change the dimension overall because exams will not require to reproduce as everyone will expect the exact copy of textbook by the student. So it gives the hint that it can end cramming of the subjects from Pakistani education system if properly implemented.
One of the arguments mostly presented against this idea on BBC debate was that it will make the tests very easy. This is not true and in reality makes the tests harder. First of all finding the exact location from the ocean of internet data takes time and test will remain time dependant. After getting the facts students will have to use them within the remaining time. So by no mean these tests can be called easy.
Fear of plagiarism also stops from carrying out this experiment. Already in Pakistan, cheating during examinations is touching the sky. Technology provides the solution here as well. HEC Pakistan is already using anti-plagiarism software to detect plagiarism in research papers. Anti- plagiarism softwares are enough to detect if the cheating. Second if the examination papers are made according to the need of open internet exams, no one will be able to cheat as nothing will be required to reproduce.
There are many problems that can come in experimenting open internet papers especially within Pakistan. Unavailability of electricity and computers can stop from conducting this experiment. No one in Pakistan can give the solution to these problems. Another problem that is also hard to solve is the help of someone to the student via emails or social networking sites. There is no solution for that other than the strict monitoring of students during papers.
Don’t forget that biggest voice that can come against the open-internet examination will be from teachers who make the examination papers. Preparing the question paper for the memory test is far easier. Second each time, they will not be able to regenerate the paper again as copies of last time test will be available over internet. So the stereotype teachers will never like this idea as they will have to do a lot more work than currently what they are doing.
To summarize all of the above I would say, current era requires modification in the examination system. Open internet papers provide the solution but implementing them all over Pakistan is currently not possible due to number of problems. Still wherever possible, this should be experimented as lots of better results are expected from this idea and students will be more prepared for the professional life of modern time.