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PCs in the Classroom & Open Book Exams (18 Mar 2005)
The first question I put forth is this; how do we allow students to keep their computer during an open-book/open-notes exam without opening the door to wide-spread cheating through the improper use of the Web, e-mail, IM, or other communications technologies?

At one extreme, the "obvious" solution is to tell the students to simply print out their materials for the exam. However, this is both potentially unrealistic and potentially disadvantageous. It is not a realistic request to have students print an online textbook. This is compounded if the student makes use of a search engine such as Google to find useful documents rather than restricting themselves to a single resource. Additionally, if a student has a system of folders or tabs that allows them to quickly find documents, or makes use of on-computer search to find documents, that ability is fully removed when they print their notes, and they would need to construct a new strategy for efficiently finding their own notes during the exam.

The other extreme is to place complete faith in the honesty of our students. Although I would extend this trust to some of my students, there are many to whom it would not extend. Restricting certain students from using a computer during the exam would be tantamount to accusing them of being a cheater before they even had the opportunity to cheat. Giving all students equal computing access would in many regards reward the dishonest student which certainly is not our end goal.
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