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The Truth Revealed: How Students Use Technology to Cheat

By Staff Reporter , Feb 12, 2020 10:56 AM EST
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This part of studying is rarely spoken about. Even the closed students’ groups on Facebook and on the forums do not dare to post the ways to cheat - because sometimes teachers can infiltrate even there. But the ways of cheating on the lessons have greatly improved from the times of pen-and-paper age. The ways of detecting cheaters have also evolved from simple observation to the sophisticated devices that interfere with the cheater’s gadget.

We are willing to risk and reveal the truth about the modern way of… let’s say making students’ lives easier. Here are some of them:

1. Google it!
Yes, that simple. Googling under the desk is still the cheating method #1. Actually, the smartphone substituted the paper notes our parents used on their exams. Students can try to find sources where they can read the needed information or at least read free essay examples on services like StudyMoose. The best thing is that now the notes can be interactive. Some savvy students use the second phone for it – putting the first, fake one to the desk in front of them, just to show that they are definitely not using the phone on the test.

The drawbacks of this method are obvious. One may forget to adjust the phone settings and the screen will go dark after ten seconds or so. This urges students to tap on the screen again and again and these movements can be easily detected. Another problem is scrolling: students also have to put their hands under the desk to scroll. Auto-scrolling can be a good solution if the scrolling speed is chosen right – too fast and one won’t be able to read anything, too slow and the student will have to wait too long until the phone scrolls to the right paragraph.

2. Audiobook
The next step of auto-scrolling evolution is listening to the text-to-speech translation of the text. The modern wireless earphones are small enough to completely hide in the ear, so the only thing the student has to do is to listen attentively until they hear the answer to the right question. There are even earphones that mimic earrings, so it’s much easier to conceal them.

There are also some drawbacks. First and foremost, the students can’t choose the question they need – they have to sit and listen, and if they aren’t attentive, they will have to wait until the second round. The second issue that the text-to-speech program hardly reads some professional terms, so math or engineering exams may turn into a game of guessing the words. The third problem is quite simple: even the best earphones can still be visible, if not visually then in the list of Bluetooth devices. So if the teacher will scan the local Bluetooth list, they can understand that someone in the class is cheating.

3. Hacking
This is the way of true professionals. In the age of storing grades and exam questions online, it is the logical step in cheating development. The students use absolutely every technique invented by hackers: using the human factor, “man in the middle” technology (capturing the messages, reading them and then passing further), brute-forcing the password (checking all the combinations until they find the right one), using the vulnerabilities of the very grade storing system and so on. The technological faculties may even forgive those who successfully hacked the system, because this action demands a deep knowledge of technologies, processes and principles of data storage and transferring. So, it can count as passing the test in an unconventional way.

The drawbacks are also quite obvious. Hacking demands a certain level of computer proficiency and/or a critical mistake made by either the teacher or the data storing system architects. Of course, there are programs that search for vulnerabilities automatically, but still, the button “hack the system” does not exist. The second problem is the human factor – but not in the sense the hackers mean it. The teacher may get really offended if they catch students who try to mess with the school system. Usually, there aren’t only grades stored in there, but also personal data, old test results, important documents and so on. Trying to break into the system may seriously damage it in the places that no one was intended to touch and then the college stuff will have a hard time restoring it back.

4. Hive Mind
Not an actual cheating, more a cheating preparation, but still. The Hive Mind technique is used when the questions for the exam are known to all the groups of students, but there are too many of them to learn them all. The social media and the forums give the students a great opportunity to collaborate and distribute these questions – so that each student will prepare only two or three of them and then share with others. The resulting file is then used for the methods listed before.

Actually, this method has only one drawback: one may rely only on their own answers, taking all the others for granted. But still, when the time is limited (or all the group decided to prepare the night before an exam), it’s better to get all the answers, some of which will be wrong than only some answers but definitely the right ones.

The best way, of course, is not to cheat at all, but sometimes, when the time is limited or the subject is extremely difficult to learn, cheating can be at least somewhat justified. If a person listens to all the answers several times and then is able to explain their choice with their own words, it still qualifies not only as cheating but as an alternative way of learning!

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