Using internet during exams


Discussing what will happen with exams in high schools in Norway in the near future

This week I am invited to the Norwegian Department of Education to participate in a dialogue with the Minister of Education. Approximately 20 experts from different areas of education in Norway, high shool level, have been invited.

Background

In the period 2012-2015 the internet has been allowed at certain schools in certain subjects during exams. This trial project has slowly expanded and in 2015  56 schools have participated in the test project.

Plan for the meeting

The goal here is to listen to educators who have been involved in the project before deciding which steps to take next. The question seems to be pretty straightforward. Either go back to how it used to be, no internet at all during exams or conclude that this is the way forward. If the latter is chosen the next questions could be, hold on to the same number of subjects or change all the exams.

Questions

These are the questions we will be answering in the meeting:

  • What are the advantages of using the internet during exams?
  • What are the challenges concerning this type of exam?
  • What preparations need to be done by the school prior to the exams, and what are the main concerns when the students are allowed to use the internet during the exams?

My thoughts on this topic, yes or no

Learning in the School for the future
Learning in the School for the future

The research they have done each year after the exam is positive. Both students and teachers are favorable towards opening up for the use of the internet and letting the students search for information when writing their exams. Teachers who know their students will be tested this way, prepare their students for this by teaching about reliable web-searches, how to trust your sources and what to look for. In fact it is only those who are grading the exams who are negative, they are not prepared for this and this is not the way they have been working with their students. To conclude, opening up for the use of the internet during the exams changes what goes on in the classroom. The teachers prepare their students for what the rest of the workforce probably think is the norm. If you need information you look it up on the internet, you verify your sources and come to a conclusion based on multiple sources. Considering this, yes is the only answer.

The schools for the future

Norwegian students skyping with students in Australia
Students skyping with students in Australia

In Norway, we have had a group of experts in a committee, Ludvigsen utvalget, look at how schools needs to be in the future. They are highlighting the importance of cross-curriculum work, collaboration, innovation and connecting students. Like the committee, most of us think that the exams need to change radically. In my perfect world, there are no exams. When students apply for university or work, exams should not be determinator. What you have done in school, what you know and how you apply your knowledge should be more important than what you did on your exam. But for now that is an entirely different discussion! The future is still a light year away it seems!

This is not the first time I have written about this. Look at this post here:

I also wrote an article for Mindshift about the topic. Here are some reflections from my students who did this exam.

One comment

  1. I agree, internet should be allowed during exams – because it’s already allowed everywhere else! You’re allowed to use internet at work, with homework (mostly) and when you’re just wondering about something you can just Google it.

    In order to reflect on a topic you need information about that topic, and during your exam you may or may not receive an assignment that you have knowledge on. If you know something about what’s being asked, great! If you don’t – you should be able to gather some information before writing your thoughts about it.

    It’s not a matter of being lazy, it’s a matter of wanting more! Having more information accessible faster and easier than before is awesome!

    Finally I want to say that I agree on your view, when you apply for work or university grades shouldn’t be the only thing you’re judged at. You do more than school right? What you can do, what you have done outside of school and what you want should also be factors in the assessment of you – both for work and for university.

    Despite there being challenges associated to internet during exams I think the positive side outweighs the negatives.

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