Day 30.5: Electronic Cheating

6 11 2009

At our university there is a strong culture of honesty. No, I am not naive enough to think that our students don’t cheat–in fact, I actually presented a research paper on this topic a few years ago, and it appears that we have our share of folks who take shortcuts. So, as we move into new methods of testing and evaluation I am keeping an open eye for new and better ways to cheat. While this topic is much too involved for me to cover here, let me just mention at least one advantage these new tools give us in keeping our students honest.

Consider this email I received Monday after our quiz:

It is awkward for me to tell you this but I think it is necessary to let you know. This morning, when we were taking the quiz I did not  like the grade that I made and I wanted to figure out what I did wrong so, I  looked back at the questions but to be able to look at the entire quiz I had to answer the questions all over again. When I had answered everything, I was tempted again to see how I did for that second time so I clicked on submit. I just wanted to tell you the truth first before there is any confusion about it. I am really sorry about this confusion and I hope it is not going to have any bad consequences.

Thank you for your understanding and I am sincerely sorry.

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Day 22: Doubting Thomas

12 10 2009

I don’t know what you do on your days off, but I spent the weekend pondering connected learning tools and techniques (yes, I need to get a life). I wrote a lesson plan that was highly connected and I expected today to be a great day. Instead, I found myself wondering yet again whether it’s simpler to just run, tail-between-legs, back to the tried and true safety of paper quizzes, scripted lectures, and non-connected learning.

It started with the quiz. We had 1 student who couldn’t find the link in her email (I fixed this one pretty easily). We had 1 student whose phone is going in for service today (I loaned him my phone to take the quiz). We had 1 student who didn’t get the link in his email at all…oh wait, he was looking at his Yahoo account, not his university account. But when all those were said and done, I still had 3 who couldn’t complete the quiz online. Ironically, one of the students who had trouble was the one I loaned my phone to, so I can’t really blame him for that I guess. Or maybe I can…. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 21: Test-worthy?

11 10 2009

First things first: for no real reason except to jump on the Obama-mania sweeping the nation, I made my own personal Hope portrait, which you can see right over there to the right. You can do the same thing for yourself at but don’t blame me for time wasted on such silliness. By the way, you can create one of these for virtually any photo you want, so you can make one featuring a desk lamp, a cucumber, etc. Again, don’t blame me for your time-wasting, as I have a responsibility to waste my own time first.

Today was Exam 2 day. Even many non-Christians have heard this famous quote, which is particularly true of exams: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” To date I have not reached a confidence point at which I am willing to risk the integrity of an exam using connected learning tools. In my mind, since we still experience frequent problems when we take a 10 minute, 10 item quiz, I am terrified by what might transpire if we tried to expand this to a 60 item, 50 minute exam. Along those same lines I am quite comfortable dealing with the consequences of a missed quiz, but don’t have any interest in ‘fixing’ a major snafu which leaves 10 or 15 students without an exam grade. Finally, while the iPhone screen is just fine for a few items, I worry about using it for a full hour of checking items (and scrolling backward and forward through 20 screens of items). So….we did it the old-fashioned way: paper test, scan-tron answers, scores to be turned around within 2 class days.

My quest for a good attendance system continues. Taking a cue from the Japanese school which is using the GPS in the phones to check roll, I contacted a US firm which provides location services; they told me they can’t do what I need to do. Bummer.

But wait, here are some more pointless Hope graphics!!!

Day 13: Lucky

21 09 2009

dice low resToday was the day we finally tried our latest and greatest quizzing solution, “SurveyGizmo”. After several less than stellar quizzing efforts, I just knew today was going to go well. At least I had my fingers crossed that it would. You can read an in-depth review of SurveyGizmo and my experiences with it over in our tools  and reviews section; the story there includes screen shots of how it formats up the quiz for the small screen. Click here to read the full review. I’ll report on how things went in my next post.

Day 12: Known Unknowns(?)

18 09 2009

compass 649932_highDay 12 was a project day, so after we checked attendance via email I asked my students to answer a single question for me using Nanotools, our very basic locally developed survey system. I explained the dilemma we face in designing an electronic quiz, specifically that the system can give them immediate right/wrong feedback on each question, OR it can let them go back and change answers during the quiz, but not both (NOTE: in a common student fantasy they receive feedback, then are allowed to change answers). My question was which they would prefer: (a) immediate feedback, (b)the chance to change, or (c) no preference.

Today, I learned an important lesson: Nanotools is appropriate for informal feedback ONLY. How did I learn this? I’ll let you take a look at the graph of responses, and you can observe two things. First, the responses nanotools graphwere roughly split between the first two options. And second, my class of 69 students managed to log a total of 86 votes. This peculiarity was pointed out to me after class by an astute student, and in talking with him I learned that the students had discovered early on that they could vote multiple times. Read the rest of this entry »