When I was sitting for my final English school exams, I pretty much had to memorise half a Shakespeare play, excerpts from half a dozen books and have a thorough understanding of half a dozen more. These days, the kids get to use their iPods and mobile phones to look up information and phone friends, at least at exclusive Sydney girls school PLC Croydon. According to the SMH yesterday, the school is trialling a system of examinations that allow girls to “access information from the internet, their mobile phones and podcasts played on mp3s”.
To stop the dreaded copy and paste education, students are required to cite all their sources accurately (just like how you have to at uni). The girls can also telephone friends or relatives to get an insight or different angle into their exam question.
But I'm not bitter. I actually think that it's a great idea. Because outside of those six years at High School, there's no point in your life that you actually need to remember large sections of Shakespearean dialogue. Obviously this tactic wouldn't work for all subjects, but for creative subjects that require composed essay submissions, why not educate the kids earlier how to use other people's work as a source of inspiration.
The SMH believes that this concept could revolutionise examinations at HSC level within a few years. So long as there's the proper checks for plagiarism in place, this is a real step in the right direction for integrating technology into education.