According to CNN, students are using iPods to cheat. And their methods seem pretty familiar.
Some students use iPod-compatible voice recorders to record test answers in advance and them play them back, 16-year-old Mountain View junior Damir Bazdar said.
Others download crib notes onto the music players and hide them in the “lyrics” text files. Even an audio clip of the old “Schoolhouse Rock” take on how a bill makes it through Congress can come in handy during some American government exams.
If a student has the test answers in advance, doesn’t the teacher have a bigger problem than the distribution method?
And why are they asking questions that can be answered by Schoolhouse Rock?
However, the larger issue is the tests themselves. If an assessment is that easy to cheat on, is it really a valid assessment?
In the real world, few people are expected to maintain a large body of information for recall on demand. Most will acquire data as they need it and their role is then to make the material useful.
So, on this government test, instead of asking students to list the steps of how a bill becomes law, let them listen to I’m Just a Bill and ask them to explain some ways that the process differs from what’s written in the Constitution.
Better yet, give them a long term project that also involves investigating current legislation that would directly affect their lives and writing their representatives.
Traditional assessments and assignments that require low level reshuffling of memorized facts do nothing to help our students prepare for what will be expected of them in the real world.
But the real news in this story is not that these devices are being used to cheat.
It’s that we have an educational structure enabling students which hasn’t changed in more than fifty years.