Skip to main content

From smartwatch and smartpen... to smartcheat?

By Saskya Vandoorne, CNN
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 1553 GMT (2353 HKT)
Radio signals are monitored and students are checked with scanners before and during the 2013 university entrance exams in China. The country has been pro-active in its attempts to crack down on high tech cheats. Radio signals are monitored and students are checked with scanners before and during the 2013 university entrance exams in China. The country has been pro-active in its attempts to crack down on high tech cheats.
HIDE CAPTION
Cracking down on high-tech cheating
Cracking down on high-tech cheating
Cracking down on high-tech cheating
Cracking down on high-tech cheating
Cracking down on high-tech cheating
Cracking down on high-tech cheating
Cracking down on high-tech cheating
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • High-tech gadgets can be used by students to cheat in exams
  • Examiners are trained to look for leads and hidden electronic equipment
  • Some devices cannot be spotted, such as "invisible" Bluetooth earpieces
  • Teachers could become redundant, some argue, because of technology

New York (CNN) -- It used to be as simple as folding a piece of paper up your sleeve or writing on the inside of your wrist. But now, as students across the world ready themselves for exam season, cheating is going high tech.

With smartwatches, smartpens and Google glasses now on the market, the modern pupil has an array of gadgets to trick the sharpest pair of eyes.

Educators now need to spot -- not just keep up with -- the latest tech inventions.

"I do think wearable technology is going to be an issue," Larry Rosen, psychology professor at California State University, told CNN. The Educational Testing Service, or ETS, is likely to be "grappling with this for the SAT, GRE and other standardized exams that they administer," he said.

There are "unanticipated consequences" of rules that lag behind technology, Rosen added.

Governments are starting to respond to the high-tech threat, according to the UK Department For Education. Schools are expected to take "appropriate action" on cheating, it said in a statement, and report the incident to the exam boards.

I tell my staff we can't stop cheating, but I will find out about it
Taylor Ellis

The invisible threat

But some devices are near impossible to see -- such as the so-called "invisible" Bluetooth earpieces.

They work with a tiny microphone, which is synced to a Bluetooth cell phone. They can enable questions, whispered from exam rooms, to be answered from someone outside the room.

Taylor Ellis, associate dean at the University of Central Florida, heads its testing center and is familiar with the tactic.

Amazon CEO debuts the 'Fire' smartphone

Examiners are trained to look for suspicious behavior and "if we observe a student waving their pen in front of the computer, or if I see them waving their wrist close to it, these are all signs that they're probably taking a photo of the screen," Ellis said. "That's when we intervene."

'Google Glass' more chic, less geek

The center is equipped with cameras so, once the exam is over, Ellis can review the footage to pick up any suspect activity he may have missed. "I tell my staff we can't stop cheating, but I will find out about it."

The future of smartwatches

China shows way to future

China has been at the forefront of the tech cheating crackdown.

Its schools and universities have been using technology to combat high-tech cheating for over a year. Among other anti-cheating tactics, staff members monitor radio signals and check students with scanners.

Such advanced technology could, some argue, make teachers redundant. "It's hard to find a teacher who's up on what's happening in the tech world," digital media consultant Shelly Palmer said. "They don't know about the latest wearable technology, you only see that in medical schools or in a research lab."

It's hard to find a teacher who's up on what's happening in the tech world
Shelly Palmer

Palmer told CNN a complete overhaul of the education system was needed. Factoids and long division is a wasted skill in today's society because in the future, a child will never be without a computer, he said.

"There was a time when you had to build a house and you needed the tools to do that, but most of us no longer translate mechanical energy into wealth, we don't plough the fields," Palmer added.

Palmer said children would be better served by learning with such high-tech tools, rather than being separated from them. These days, it's "intellectual property" that is translated into wealth, he said.

Read more: Keep kids from cheating in school
Read more: South Korea cheating scandal hits university bids
Read more: Allegations of widespread

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT)
Jim Boulden on the future of online shopping.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0842 GMT (1642 HKT)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Turkey's new president . So can he revitalize its economic fortunes?
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The European Union is stepping in to save its dairy from going sour.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1236 GMT (2036 HKT)
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for people and businesses to get smarter about preventing them.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
Evidence points to pro-Russian separatists as perpetrators of the attack and Vladimir Putin is facing uncomfortable questions, David Clark writes.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 0902 GMT (1702 HKT)
Macau has overtaken Switzerland in the wealth stakes, being named the world's fourth richest territory by the World Bank.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1447 GMT (2247 HKT)
Saudi Arabian Bateel brand is best known for its delectable dates but it now has more than a dozen cafes and a new bakery in the works.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material. It is so dark the human eye can't discern its shape and form.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1602 GMT (0002 HKT)
Jibo robot is designed to be an organizer, educator and assist family members. CNN's Maggie Lake met him and says she was impressed with his skills.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 2109 GMT (0509 HKT)
American burger joints have sprung up all over London, but how to know which ones are best? CNN's Jim Boulden investigates.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
At the last football World Cup, it was all about 3D. This time around, it's nothing less than 4K.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
Bob Mazzer has photographed inside London's Tube network for 40 years. He's captured history.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1712 GMT (0112 HKT)
Exotic animals are becoming a profitable business opportunity for Nicaraguan entrepreneurs. CNN's Rafael Romo reports.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1529 GMT (2329 HKT)
Iraq produces 3.3 million barrels per day and has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. But the current crisis is putting all this in danger.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
June 16, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
The gas standoff between Russia and Ukraine could have a knock-on effect on Europe. Explore this map to find out why is the EU nervous.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
Bob Mazzer has photographed inside London's Tube network for 40 years. He's captured history.
June 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
The UK capital promotes its tech stars and shows it can compete with Silicon Valley. Here are five companies that pitch to make it big.
ADVERTISEMENT