Digital Cheating?

This image was sent around my old job as “proof” kids would cheat if given tests on computers. There was some sort of panic laced headline like “As if you needed proof that monitoring was a good idea!!!!

The image was taken using Remote Desktop.

I don’t think the sender saw the irony.


If your test can be answered simply by using the dictionary would it really be worth taking anyway (unless it was a test on how to use a dictionary- then we’re ok)?

I actually semi-like this question because it requires the student to think (at least a little). Are there other meanings for “high profile?” Which one applies to this sentence? It looks like it defeated this student’s attempt to cheat.

All in all, I’m depressed on several levels.

8 thoughts on “Digital Cheating?

  1. That’s hilarious! Mostly because that’s exactly what I would expect some 5th grader to do, but a high schooler, man! You’ve got a great point about the format of the test, though. If all it takes is one reference book to make it through an assessment then the teacher really needs to rethink how he or she is going about assessing their students on what they know versus how they apply their skills.

  2. I really do not see an issue with what this student did. I think part of learning and education is knowing how to use your available resources to find the answer to the question you are presented. This does not appear to be a vocabulary test, so what’s the big deal? The kids are provided the formulas for most math tests, so why is it such a problem if a student uses an available resource to look up the meaning of a phrase they may not fully understand?

  3. It seems silly but it’s those type of reactions that may sink our middle school 1 to 1 laptop initiative.

    How dare a student use a tool like we hope they will in “real” life in a way that might lead to greater understanding?

  4. At the same time, we are trying teach our kids the value of integrity and honesty. I think there is a time for encouraging the use of these sort of resources to pursue your own answers, but not on a formative assessment.

  5. I sure haven’t seen honesty or integrity on an SOL and so, almost by definition, you better not be “wasting” class time on things like that. You can tell what a school thinks is important by what it tests, grades and spends money on. Schools clearly don’t care about integrity and honesty.

    I’m not saying the kid wasn’t cheating by the rules set forth. I am saying they are stupid rules and they don’t really help kids in the end. Is it better to memorize a word for 24hrs and do well on the test or learn to use a tool and apply some other skills- things you’ll use for your whole life?

    On math tests when I was in school they wouldn’t give you the formulas. You had to memorize them. Why? I have no idea. In the scheme of things math is generally about logical thinking not really about the formulas at all. How often will I be calculating the angles of triangles in real life? Well so far none. The logic was what really mattered, not the formula.

    You could do a lot of things to encourage word acquisition without outlawing the use of dictionaries. Make the tests timed for instance. So if you have to look up every word chances are you won’t finish. Or give words with multiple definitions that the students will have to think about in order to choose the right definition.

    As data becomes more readily available a lot of the memorization prevalent in schools makes even sense.


  6. I see your point, but the goal of the question is not to see if the student can memorize vocabulary. The question is about using context to decipher vocabulary–which is a great tool when you don’t have a dictionary handy.

    Also, this specific test was a formative assessment meant to give the teachers feedback on how well the student is “getting” the concepts or content being taught. It was not meant for a grade, so what is really at stake here for the student? When that student turned to the dictionary, they are giving the teacher skewed data regarding how well s/he can use context for comprehension.

  7. As Dave would say “I’ll push back . . .”
    with the fact that the dictionary didn’t do anything to impact whether the student was able to decipher based on context- that’s why they were going to get the question wrong. So no harm, no foul? That’s why I found the whole thing funny.

    If the formative assessment wasn’t counted as a grade I will eat our trash rather than throw it out for the next week.


  8. That sad part in all of this, is that the teacher probably didn’t know it was that easy for a kid to do. For example, I just had a teacher come to me today furious because his student used the laptop to record the classroom to show his mom that there isn’t any classroom management. The teacher was mad at the kid using the technology, rather then wonder about his own classroom management. Integrity is an important issue though, and I’m sure the student “felt” like they were cheating, which should have stopped him or her.

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