Smart Devices Give Students New Ways to Cheat

    27 October, 2016

    Teachers have always had to deal with cheating students. But in today's high-tech world, new devices are making it much easier for students to cheat.

    Recent studies have shown that most teenagers in the United States now have access to smartphones. Experts say much of the cheating is done with the help of smartphones.

    Smart Cheating

    Nile Nickel is a technology and social media expert. He says many students put information into their mobile phones to cheat on tests. They can then hide their cheating by using other devices to view the information.

    "We also have things like Google Glass, as well as smart contact lenses that have the ability to capture video and transmit it to a remote site."

    Earlier this year, officials caught several Thai students cheating this way during exams to get into a top medical school.

    "What they were doing was looking at the test with their glasses on," Nickel said. "It was capturing the exam questions, transmitting them to some associates outside the classroom."

    This May 8, 2016 photo by Asst. Prof. Pakarat Jumpanoi shows a smartwatch used by students caught cheating in exams for admission to medical school in Bangkok, Thailand.
    This May 8, 2016 photo by Asst. Prof. Pakarat Jumpanoi shows a smartwatch used by students caught cheating in exams for admission to medical school in Bangkok, Thailand.

    He added that some students even have smartwatches that only show information if they are viewed with special glasses.

    Some phones also have a very low ring sound that can only be heard by younger people, according to Nickel.

    Who is cheating?

    Denise Pope is a learning expert at Stanford University in California. She said some of the students are not the ones you think would cheat.

    "These are kids who are doing well in school, and they are still cheating because they need to keep up their grades. They feel the pressure to maintain a really high grade point average."

    Pope also co-created the organization Challenge Success. It provides schools and families with tools to help children become more involved and have a more balanced educational experience.

    She says improving the learning and testing process can help cut down on cheating.

    "Instead of trying to chase this problem, to get out in front of it. And what I mean by that is to create assignments where it's almost impossible to cheat."

    Anti-cheating tools

    As an example, she said teachers can ask students to turn in progress of their work and projects before it is complete. Teachers can be sure the material is the student's work and can provide suggestions.

    Pope added that changing the way tests are structured can prevent cheating. She says the best tests require students to write their answers instead of choosing from a list of choices.

    Many schools already have barred students from taking smartphones into testing rooms. Others are experimenting with looking for radio signals or other methods to discover hidden devices used to cheat.

    But Pope said one of the most important ways to help stop cheating is to get teachers, students and parents to talk openly about it. She says this can help students better understand the reasons for holding themselves to a high standard of honesty.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    Faiza Elmasry reported this story for VOA News. Bryan Lynn adapted it for VOA Learning English. was the editor.

    We want to hear from you. What do you think teachers can do to stop cheating? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit 51VOA.COM.


    Words in This Story

    get away with v. to succeed in doing something wrong without being caught or punished

    contact lens n. thin piece of plastic worn on the eye to improve vision

    transmit – v. to pass information in the form of electrical signals

    glasses – n. pair of lenses set in a frame worn to improve vision

    associate – n. a partner in work, school or business

    gradesn. number or letter given to students showing how good their work is

    assignment – n. piece of work to do given in school or work

    standardn. level of quality considered acceptable