Exams + internet = cheating ?

internet classroomPupils at 14 colleges in  Denmark are being allowed full access to the internet during their final school year exams.

The debate about the idea centres on whether it amounts to – simply put – cheating and means you don’t need to know the subject before you go in. 

Others say it’s a sensible step forward and reflects the way students learn and interact.

Europe Today will be discussing this in a few hours  – wherever you are, post here on whether you think it’s a good idea.

29 Responses to “Exams + internet = cheating ?”

  1. 1 Dennis Junior
    November 4, 2009 at 14:09


    Excellent combination and good usage of the mathematical theory…I think it is not a good idea to allow the usage of the internet for exams…Since, it will encourage cheating….

    =Dennis Junior=

  2. November 4, 2009 at 14:58

    This is what advancement in technology brings us. Training personel who are dependent on internet and cant grasp the basics which are taught. Its very archaic idea and i strongly oppose it. JONAH EKUTAN – kenya

    November 4, 2009 at 15:41

    i think this is very bad to world not Denmark alone because the world is trying to fight against corruption

  4. 4 Ronald Almeida
    November 4, 2009 at 15:57

    What’s the point of cramming one’s head full of facts and information in today’s techno world. All one needs to know is how to access the information that one needs.

  5. 5 gary
    November 4, 2009 at 16:00

    As a college prof, I’ve disallowed use of all electronics during class room time. Students are encouraged to use the internet outside class as a supplement or guide to hard copy. The net is unfortunately quick, wide, deep, and full of quasi-knowledge and outright lies. I subscribe to the idea that speedy is seldom as useful as correct.

  6. 6 patti in cape coral
    November 4, 2009 at 16:17

    I have to agree with Gary. I see the internt as very useful as a study tool and access to information, but the point of exams is to see how much you know, not how fast you can find the information, not to mention possibly getting the wrong information. I guess this is the updated equivalent of the open book test. Maybe the nature of the questions have to change for this to work.

  7. 7 Count Iblis
    November 4, 2009 at 16:30

    It depends on the type of test. In case of a social studies related topic, you can now omit some essential data and ask the students to search for it themselves. The judgement of the students to critically evaluate what is reliable data and what not can then also be tested. In tradional tests, you would have to give the students the data they would need to solve the problem, but real world problems don’t come with such helpful information.

    In case of math and physics, you would want the students to be able to derive everything from first principles. It is then not a good idea to let students use the internet. Also, students can then easily cheat by asking their questions online like e.g. here.

  8. 8 Jennifer
    November 4, 2009 at 16:49

    Exams + Internet= cheating?

    Yes! This is cheating. I don’t have any problem with students using the Internet outside of class. I’d even say that it adds to your education. However, it’s not to be used for exams; which should test your basic knowledge of material you are supposed to have learned.

    Another issue is becoming so dependent upon technology that one doesn’t have the patience to read a book or any desire to retain information because they think they no longer have to know anything.

  9. 9 nora
    November 4, 2009 at 17:17

    Why just focus on the exam instead of contemplating the full measure of class disparity leading up to an exam? The income disparity between a laptop and wi-fi family and a no computer home is huge for children and their school work. One family can print color photos and have daddy doing half the report, the other hopes the library hasn’t cut its hours again.

    On another note, it has been said in many places that A students learn before the exam, C students learn from the mistakes on the corrected exam. Both can perform equally well in the workplace.

  10. 10 Tom K in Mpls
    November 4, 2009 at 17:49

    As the Count put it, it depends on what the test is for. If it is meant to show what knowledge you have memorized, then access to knowledge is bad. If it is on how to get knowledge and/or on how to apply it, the internet is essential. I think this question is lacking a proper framework for debate. The better related question would be ‘ how should education adapt to the changes in the accessibility of information in today’s world?’.

  11. November 4, 2009 at 17:51

    Does this mean that 14 colleges in Denmark will have a 100% pass rate?

  12. November 4, 2009 at 18:03

    @Dennis @Ekutan @gary @patti @jennifer

    On the contrary, it is NOT cheating, it makes the test harder.

    1. Obviously, the test will be something along the lines of “here’s the theme. make the best of it.” Using computers means writing essays. Writing essays means research. Do research in as little as the exam time. It will be really hard for the pupil to filter out good information from bad information. And allowing pupils to have internet during the exam will obviously raise the bar on the grade. So don’t think it will be as easy as cheating.
    2. For the fear, they might go out on the internet and copy-paste some already done work into their essay, no pupil intelligent will be that stupid enough to do that. Teachers can distinguish and compare the form in which the essay is written and earlier exams by the pupil. So in fact, using the internet adds pressure to the exam.

    • 13 patti in cape coral
      November 5, 2009 at 18:06

      @ Konstantin- I agree that for this this to work the nature of examinations and the questions on them, at least here in the US, have to change.

  13. 14 Josiah Soap
    November 4, 2009 at 18:56

    As a university Professor I strongly discourage using the internet outside of class as well. The internet is full of popular material but it it is often inaccurate and not in enough depth. Unfortunately students these days want instant gratification, rather than the hard work required to pass exams. The primary literature is the best way to assimilate information. Google Scholar is quite useful because it gives online access to peer reviewed articles. However, I find most students look for the quick answer, pretty picture type sites. As for using the internet in exams, no way! We are testing the ability to assimilate information, and then to be able to critically appraise material or solve complex problems. This doesn’t mean learning how to press a few buttons. I am not one for conspiracy theories but I sometimes wonder if the government wants to produce a bunch of mindless morons that are constantly linked to some electronic media device and are easier to brainwash!

  14. 15 Tom K in Mpls
    November 4, 2009 at 19:51

    On air Alison is ignoring that possibility and reality that the reason we are in Afghanistan has changed. She also wants the typical American quick fix. To her there are only absolutes. Very embarrassing.

  15. 17 Bert
    November 4, 2009 at 20:09

    Oh pooh. This is not much different from an “open book test.” The help you get from the open book, or the Internet, is extremely contingent on how well you know the material to begin with. Because these tests are timed, so it’s not like you have a lot of time to waste browsing without focus. Mostly, the open book or Internet can be seen as a ready reference, and the student has to know exactly what to look for, and exactly where.

    Exams are not ALWAYS just to test your memory. They can also be designed to test your reasoning skills. In the real world, after college, you will not be well served by your education, if all you can do is work one memorized facts.

  16. November 4, 2009 at 20:25


    there are better academic search engines than google scholar. obviously one doesn’t directly quote from google (popular) search or wikipedia. if so, it’s not the student/pupils who has failed, it is the professor/teacher who has failed the students by not showing them how to find relevant information. my best work came from academic internet search engines: i found so many scientific papers for my research and our university library even linked to them. unfortunately I only know rather german search engines, otherwise i would list you some.

  17. 19 Maja
    November 5, 2009 at 02:56

    I am a Dane currently studying in USA, Washington State University. Since coming here, I realized that there is not one global definition on cheating. A lot of my American fellow students see knowledge sharing(when one student lent the other hers/his notes) as cheating and I think it is a sad and somewhat ignorant tendency.
    Of course using internet in exams is not cheating. It is a natural development in our institution of school. In Denmark we have an education system based on learning to understand and question things, while they in USA have a system based on learning to memorize facts. Having studied in both countries, I must say, I would feel “cheated”, if I had got my whole bachelor degree in USA and thought I had the same skills as one, who got it in Denmark. Clearly there is an intellectual and academic difference, and it has a lot to do with the way we learn. Memorizing facts is not as important anymore, because of the access to open source knowledge, but knowing how to use that tool in a proper way is very important.

  18. 20 Ronald Almeida
    November 5, 2009 at 08:13

    Exams? Teachers should formulate other means with the help of the technology itself to test the aptitude of the students. The kind of exams conducted in the past are old hat. Students should not waste their talent trying to cheat. Which they wouldn’t if the system didn’t demand it.

  19. 21 scmehta
    November 5, 2009 at 08:16

    Learning and interacting, on the computer or otherwise, is before the exams and not during the exams; Any literate person in Denmark would know that.

  20. 22 Audrius Kviliunas
    November 5, 2009 at 12:56

    In learning process alittle information you must know by memory.All other information you must be learned to take from books and even internet.This is essential.Other must essential rule is how to work with this information.There must be created creativeness and feeling of discoverer in pupils and this is possible when science development in time is understanded and even given possibility to doubt some scientific knowledge.

  21. November 5, 2009 at 13:06

    The Europe Today programme on BBC WS thanks you for all the great input relating to our coverage of the Danish plans to allow for internet access in examination halls. It’s great to see a diverse range of views represented, both for and against the idea of allowing technology to revolutionise the way students are examined. From these diverse views, perhaps we can draw the general conclusion that there remain country-specific academic cultures and ways of learning, and that the Danish model might not work on a global scale. Regardless of it’s merits, or lack thereof as some asserted, it does raise the prospect of education in the 21st century having to adapt to the changes in accessibility to information that characterise the techno world of today.

  22. 24 JanB
    November 5, 2009 at 14:36

    It depends on the subject really, when you have to write an essay about “capitalism” or “the renaissance”, the internet won’t help you much, but with subjects like biology or physics being able to use Wikipedia practically amounts to cheating and I’m sure that, in time, students will find ways to post the answers to last year’s exams on the internet, making it a cheat in even more subjects.

    • 25 jamal
      November 6, 2009 at 08:22

      good point there, I forgot to mention that even without the internet, students at my school circulate copies of the the exams for the big survey courses that everyone has to take. At one of them, a young woman in front of me just pulled out the list of answers and copied them onto the exam. I got the sense that the professor involved realized it was a losing battle.

  23. 26 Sheel,15,Kuwait
    November 5, 2009 at 17:29

    Exams are really meant to test the student mentally, It doesnt require students to cram the material from their textbooks, nor buy guides or help books to facilaite students to pass in their exams. What is important in exams that it enables the students to use their own creativity and logical reasoning. I am a high school going student, And the present system of examinations are getting reallly worse, but the Denmark system of examinations are really practical and innovative to some extent. As JanB said, it really depends on the type of the subject.

    I guess they will soon replace the old classical paper handwritten exams to computer based or even mobile based exams which will enable the students to do thier exams on computers instead of using ink filled inks and creasy papers. This is one of the practical applications of technology for the benefit of students. Lets just hope!

  24. November 5, 2009 at 21:49

    It’s the other way round. Wikipedia and the internet doesn’t really help with physics. It just quotes from standard books and even erroneous. And even then, you have to adapt and/or use formulas to use them in the exam. Whereas for capitalism and historical periods, there are masses of literature, essays and recaps out there. The art of it is cutting it down to the point and filter irrelevant from relevant… This is called research.

  25. 28 Tan Boon Tee
    November 6, 2009 at 03:29

    There is a hierarchy in assessment.

    At the most basic level of recall of knowledge or facts, using internet must be seen as tantamount to outright cheating.

    At the comprehension and application level, using internet may not be that helpful, unless there are already similar answers available.

    At the higher levels of analysis, synthesis and especially evaluation, internet could be completely helpless.

    And when it comes to competent practical skills, what is the use of internet?

    So, does Exams + Internet = Cheating?

    What would the WHYS reader think?

  26. 29 jamal
    November 6, 2009 at 08:18

    I am a foreign student at a major central European university. The amount of cheating that goes on at my school, quite frankly, shocks me. Students have asked me the answer to a question during an exam right in front of the teacher! Copying during exams is quite commonplace. It degrades education in general, as well as the effort put in by some students to really assimilate the material.

    I do not think we should be using the internet as a kind of ‘surplus brain.’ Having access to the internet during the exam seems to turn it into a joke.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: