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More school kids are using smartwatches to cheat in exams

More and more school kids at all qualification levels are using wearable devices to cheat in exams.

In the UK, officials say over 2,700 penalties were issued last year, up by a quarter on 2016. While some dishonest pupils and students opted to use paper notes, many were caught with more high-tech solutions. Penalties included marking grades down or not accepting papers. Some were even kicked off their courses.

But at the same time, teachers claim that many are getting away with it. Smartphones are officially forbidden in exam halls but that doesn’t mean they can’t be smuggled in. Many places also have specific rules about smartwatches, but again this is difficult to police. Plus some teachers are turning a blind eye to the practice or are simply not up to speed with the latest in high-tech.

Commenting last year on university specific figures, Thomas Lancaster, an Associate Dean at Staffordshire University and one of the UK’s leading experts on cheating, said: “These figures are only going to show what’s been detected and students who cheat well won’t always get caught, especially now there’s so much mini-tech out there which is hard to spot.”

A popular cheating technique consists of saving pictures of notes to smartwatches and at exam time discreetly scrolling through them. Some opt for apps that can display text while other’s use Siri to read back notes to them.

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A number of these devices are blatantly advertised on the internet as cheating assistants. You can even buy a “cheat pen” which allows you to conceal information inside! Then there are the many how-to-guides that can be found on YouTube and other video sites. Statistics show that last year, a quarter of all students caught cheating used electronic gizmos such as smartphones, smartwatches, mini cameras and hidden ear-pieces.

UK’s Joint Council for Qualifications said: “Malpractice seriously damages the integrity of the examination system and undermines public confidence.”

To us it seems that learning institutions are fighting a losing battle. They may have better luck in stamping out the unethical practice by writing better exams – exams that go beyond simply repeating what you have been thought in class.

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