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Cambridge Could Allow Laptops For Exams - Young People Losing Ability To Write

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24 replies to this topic

#1 catbert

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 23:27

Cambridge University could allow laptops and iPads for exams amid fear young people are losing ability to write

 

Cambridge contemplates typed exams for all as handwriting becomes ‘lost art’ for students



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#2 Runnin_Ute

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 00:09

So the answer is to enable them? Seems backwards. Of course, looking back on my time teaching college students for a for profit college which had "on campus" (an office building), online and "hybrid" (combination of the two) courses - many of the assignments my students turned in and many of the exams were done online. Even for the on campus courses.


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#3 catbert

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 03:40

I think there's an argument for allowing computers as a way to level the playing field in entrance examinations (assuming they have entrance examinations) - otherwise, perhaps a certain kind of student has an advantage - but after that, why not run remedial handwriting classes? The learning and study benefits of handwriting aside, surely part of the unique appeal and cachet of such ancient institutions is that they do things differently.



#4 mitto

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 04:17

Sad news.
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#5 pajaro

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 04:19

Faced with change, we could throw out sabots into the machine, or we could embrace change.  I believe universities will balk at teaching remedial handwriting except perhaps as some form of anthropology.

 

Perhaps those who want to preserve cursive or other handwriting might write books on the subject.


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#6 Mech-for-i

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 04:41

I wonder how they are going to guard the student from cheating .. the iPad and/or laptops are not just input device like a keyboard 



#7 Namo

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 11:07

Better idea: allow analphabet students to take the exams orally. This will empower them!

Edited by Namo, 11 September 2017 - 11:07.

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#8 Needhelp

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 11:33

NO NO, NO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO............... IT CANT HAPPEN! so which means that by the time I reach college ill have to type? but isn't writing faster and more efficient than typing? I can barely type properly but love to use fountain pens in school. 

well, the thing that I feared might happen........ unless someone fights against it.


Edited by Needhelp, 11 September 2017 - 11:36.


#9 ac12

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 22:18

It was inevitable that this would happen.

 

The same thing happened in the CPA exams with calculators.  In my time, it was 'no calculators' allowed.  It was perceived that the more affluent could afford the programmable/advanced calculators, which would give them an advantage over those who could not afford those expensive calculators.  So, to level the field, it was 'no calculators,' and we did math by hand on paper.  For some of us, doing math on paper led to a lot of 'math errors,' because we used the calculators regularly in school.

I understand that calculators have been permitted in the CPA exams for quite a while now.

 

The challenge is to prevent the students from cheating when they use their laptops/tablets.

Or to use school provided computers.

There is no easy answer but time and technology moves on, and the education system has to keep pace.

 

BTW, I used to be a college grader, and I can empathize with the reasoning in the articles.  Even 30 years ago, there were kids with HORRIBLE handwriting, that gave me a headache "trying" to read/decypher.


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#10 5Cavaliers

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 22:30

When I was teaching at university, I had so many problems with student cheating through using cell phones as calculators.  I finally had to simplify the calculations a student needed to make on the exam so that I could ban cell phones and calculators from the classroom.  I would move a cupboard with little boxes into the room and each student would place their cell phone into the box with their name on it.  Only then could they sit for the exam.  It cut down on the number of "0"s I had to give for cheating.  

 

I believe that Cambridge is making a huge mistake in this.  I can see this being allowed for an open book essay exam, but then why would they need to come into the classroom at all.  But for a closed exam, this policy of allowing laptops will be a mistake.  The only thing that might redeem the idea is if the professor blocks wireless and cell reception, which could be done.  


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#11 aeba

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 22:47

FYI: Finland already uses student's own laptops in gymnasium level tests. Apparently the computers are booted in to custom Linux OS from USB stick provided by the school. The laptops are required to have either rj45 LAN interface, or LAN to USB adapter.

 

Biggest problem has been that many computers doesn't work with the Linux fork, but unsurprisingly the sky hasn't fallen this time either.


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#12 catbert

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 22:26

To me, it’s not about resisting progress or change, which will come anyway, but wondering if consumer trends should be the deciding factor in this case, particularly if the technology to replace handwritten testing doesn’t seem to be there yet.

 
I would also hate to be in an exam hall full of furious typing, but that’s another matter.  :mellow:
 
Regarding remedial classes, the tertiary institution I attended required two second languages for the first part of the course (which was not a language degree). Those of us who lacked proficiency :blush: got extra tuition with graduate students or outside instructors. Of course, a language isn’t the same as handwriting, but it shows what can be done. (That said, the requirement has since been dropped.)


#13 Needhelp

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 13:13

Oh and the other thing that tells that fountain pens are starting to fall is the discontinued models of great pens by great companies. Like parker, sheaffer, waterman esterbrooks etc vintage pens are discontinued which is not fair.

#14 KellyMcJ

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 15:42

This is a spectacularly bad idea. The educational system in general seems to have forgotten that we aren't walking around with laptops strapped to our chests like drummers in a marching band just yet. Once we graduate....wait for it....

 

WE STILL HAVE TO HANDWRITE THINGS!!!! Not to mention being able to read others handwriting.

 

So either we teach it in school or people graduate with a severe disadvantage once they enter the workforce.

 

I'm waiting for the day I'm forbidden to use cursive because the younger generations can't read it...then everyone will have to contend with the chicken seizures called "Kelly's attempt to write print".



#15 inkstainedruth

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 20:45

I can see this being allowed for an open book essay exam, but then why would they need to come into the classroom at all.  But for a closed exam, this policy of allowing laptops will be a mistake.  The only thing that might redeem the idea is if the professor blocks wireless and cell reception, which could be done.  

 

I had one "open book" exam back when I was in college.  It was for one of my art history classes (the one on Medieval Art) and we were supposed to compare and contrast Romanesque vs. Gothic styles.  And it was, well, weird....  It felt wrong to me, like I WAS cheating.  Even though everyone in the small group sessions (as opposed to the big main lectures) were doing the same exam, and using the same textbook.  

Back then, only a few students (mostly some of the incoming freshmen engineering students on my floor in the dorm had personal computers.  There was a Intro to Psychology class I took as a freshman, where it was computer quizzes.  It was dead easy.  Read the chapter, go to the library, take the quiz.  I aced the class and after the first session I never bothered to go to the lectures (it was, as far as I was concerned, just a non-art required course (I think I needed to have 30 credits of non-major, general studies classes; I took a lot of writing and lit classes, but I did have to take a few non-humanities classes (I ended up taking that and another psych class, and a couple of philosophy classes).  

When I was a senior, they changed the requirements, but I was able to follow the ones from when I was a freshman.  So no language classes, no history, no phys ed, no science or math classes for me.  Just the 30 hours of non-art core, and everything else art (I had almost enough credits but not the course load, for a double major, and to get a BFA it was a higher number of credits to start with (123 hours, as opposed to I think 120 for a BA).  And nearly every semester except my first one and my last one I was taking an 18 course load (and I learned my lesson the semester I took 18 credits of studio courses, so I'd take 12 and then the other 6 would be non-studio courses, like the lit classes).  I considered taking a lit course on the Beat Generation, but was afraid that with the number of studio hours I would not be able to keep up with the reading requirements (18 books for a 14 week class...  :o; even I can't read that fast if I'm having to work on paintings or drawings or isometric projections or airbrushing projects, or developing film carving woodcuts...).

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#16 owend

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 12:48

As an A-Level (17/18-year-olds) teacher, the only students I ever had using a computer were one who had had a bad but not permanent head injury from playing rugby; he sat in a room alone with a "sanitised", ie no-Internet, computer and extra time, and one who had broken his writing-arm shoulder the day before - we got special dispensation and he typed with his "wrong" hand, slowly, with two adults in the room, me to help run the computer and a trained first-aider!

 

So, using a computer as a tool to level the playing-field for student with either permanent or temporary disabilities I can approve, but not as a universal rule. Schools should have taught students to write legibly before they get to Cambridge, it's a vital life-skill for any sort of academia, although arguably not for a physical craft like plumber, electrician, farmer etc where writing is secondary to their other skills.



#17 Ghost Plane

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 17:37

I note US schools are bringing back handwriting as so many graduates are dysfunctional in the workplace. Additionally, they're beginning to pay attention to the studies showing greater retention from the written word.

Bottom line, exams should test knowledge of the SUBJECT, not the tech.

(Watching the post-hurricane struggle when power is out for a week at a time is a significant data point.)

#18 KellyMcJ

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 15:14

I note US schools are bringing back handwriting as so many graduates are dysfunctional in the workplace. Additionally, they're beginning to pay attention to the studies showing greater retention from the written word.

Bottom line, exams should test knowledge of the SUBJECT, not the tech.

(Watching the post-hurricane struggle when power is out for a week at a time is a significant data point.)

 

This is true. It took them about 15 years worth of students to realize....when the first couple batches graduated....that they'd actually made a horrible mistake by emphasizing computers over written words. It was an "Oh (bleep)" moment when newly minted adults couldn't sign legal documents because they didn't know how to sign their names.



#19 runnjump

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 19:51

It's a slippery slope. I'm an instructor at a top American university. The students are so bad at handwriting, they can't write quickly enough to give adequate answers to the exam questions, and what they do write is sometimes illegible. So, we as teachers are almost ready to throw our hands up and allow typed exam papers.


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#20 Needhelp

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 09:52

It's a slippery slope. I'm an instructor at a top American university. The students are so bad at handwriting, they can't write quickly enough to give adequate answers to the exam questions, and what they do write is sometimes illegible. So, we as teachers are almost ready to throw our hands up and allow typed exam papers.

:(







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