Imagine the scenario. You’ve spent a considerable amount of time preparing for your history exam, pouring through the set textbooks and learning about a variety of key debates. You’re extremely nervous when the day of the exam arrives. After all, your mark could make the difference between an open or closed door to your university of choice. However, you manage to overcome the initial anxiety and make good progress on your essay about England in Medieval times. Then horror strikes as you fail to remember when the Magna Carta was written. This plays on your mind as you struggle your way through the rest of the examination. Wouldn’t it have been easier and less stressful if you’d been allowed to carry out a simple Google search?
Need for change?
Conservatives and traditionalists may be a little alarmed at the prospect of allowing Google during examinations. However, Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) chief executive Mark Dawes has said, “Surely when they learn in the classroom, everyone uses Google if there is a question. It is more about understanding what results you’re seeing rather than keeping all of that knowledge in your head, because that’s not how the modern world works.” We turn to the trusty search engine for guidance on how to bake chocolate brownies, master the use of digital cameras and perform basic vehicle maintenance. Unfortunately there is still a large amount of scepticism and caution regarding the use of Google in exams.
How Google could be used
One of the greatest concerns is that students could use Google to cheat their way to top marks. However, the teachers and examiners would be able to restrict the use of computers to certain types of exams. Students would still have to work out challenging maths problems in their heads. Google could be used to search for the names of authors and key quotes in English exams. It would even be possible to limit access to particular websites. Bored students wouldn’t be able to distract their friends with funny cat videos after finishing the exams. There wouldn’t be enough time to carry out the research required for detailed exam answers. However, Google could be used as a helpful fact-finding tool.
Those of us who remember taking examinations without the assistance of technology may feel a little hard done by. It has even be suggested that the use of Google would equate to a further dumbing-down of education in the United Kingdom. Chris McGovern, spokesperson for the Campaign for Real Education has said, “We have a crisis in standards in this country. All that Google-assisted exams will do is to further undermine the importance of subject knowledge and make things worse.” However, it could be argued that the ability to use search engines is absolutely essential in our digitally focussed world. Today’s children grow up using an assortment of technologies. They will undoubtedly make extensive use of the internet during their adult lives. So why not allow Google into the exam room?
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