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Posted: December 7, 2006

Nanotechnology to help combat cheating on exams?

(Nanowerk News) The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the group that oversees Britain's curriculum and examination systems, this week published a report "Digital Technologies and dishonesty in examinations and tests" that deals with the impact of digital technologies on students' ability to cheat during exams.
Drawing from research evidence from national and international sources including the higher education sector, "Digital technologies and dishonesty in examinations and tests" reviews current knowledge on the impact of digital technologies on dishonest practice by students in supervised and non-supervised assessments and considers ways of reducing dishonest practice in examinations and tests.
Jean Underwood, the report's author and a Professor of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University, identifies Internet plagiarism and the use of mobile technology for crib sheets or communicating with peers as the main culprits. The proposed solutions range from positive pressure and physical monitoring to high-tech means of identifying, discouraging and preventing the practice.
Among other technical solutions, the report recommends consideration of biometrics and nanotechnology to combat cheating during academic and professional exams.
One example: "...alternative to signal jamming is blanket cloaking of an examination hall using a basic Faraday cage. New types of mobile phone blocking paint, based on nanotechnology, could become available in the future which could deflect radio signals when required and be activated and deactivated at will. The flexibility of this technology could mean that unwanted signals can be filtered out while allowing certain transmissions to proceed as normal. The status of such techniques is questionable. They do not ‘jam’, that is interfere with the signal, but they do prevent signals getting through, that is they cause ‘shadows’ or radio wave blind spots."
However, the report also suggests that "legal, social and cost barriers will severely restrict what technology can offer."
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