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21 May 2015

Google it!

Eva Carey

Eva Carey

Is it or will it ever be OK to use the internet in every aspect of life, being heavily involved in technology I thought so. I discussed this with my daughter, Caitlin Carey, whom just having completed her AS exams was surprised to hear an exam board suggest the possibility of using the internet during exams.


Google It by Caitlin Carey

Here is what she said on the topic:

Nowadays, the internet can be used for pretty much everything; a calculator, dictionary, thesaurus… These objects have been used in schools for a long time, but are now more conveniently found online, for those who do not want to heave around a large book. Recently, the chief of the exam board OCR (Mark Dawe) has said he believes that Google should be allowed in exams.

Whilst it cannot be denied that the internet has become a very large part of modern society, should it really be used for exams? An argument in favour of the idea might state that it makes exams more realistic and applicable to everyday life. It is true that the internet has become an intrinsic part of working for many, so using it in exams could be preparing you for a lifetime of using the internet in real life. A frequent complaint of current exams is that the methods and knowledge used is irrelevant and may never be used again in later life. Therefore it could seem plausible that using the internet in exams would be appropriate.

This use of Google in A-levels and GCSEs would still involve interpretation of information, and would involve utilising the tools that are available to us in life. Of course, the time of internet available would be limited and only for certain exams, as stated by Dawe, therefore might not just be giving people an easier way of passing exams. On top of this, there’s a lot of text recognition software out there, to prevent plagiarism- programmes that can scan to see where something has been lifted or copied from a website.

However, this attempt at prevention is unconvincing. As I’m sure anyone who has ever had a confusing piece of work due in the next day will know: It is very easy to take a paragraph and just re-word it. Whilst this may be acceptable for unimportant pieces of homework, it shouldn’t be that easy for an actual exam. It just encourages cheating in the real world, and stops people having their own ideas. For an English exam for example, it’s so easy to look up interpretations of poems rather than coming up with your own. Consequently, this just spawns thousands of identical answers and a lack of individuality. For a physics paper, a quick Google search will turn up many of peoples PhDs posted online. It essentially takes away from what is actually inside a person’s head and just leads to regurgitation of other people’s work. No more individuality or unique ideas.

The Campaign for Real Education has spoken against the idea, say it is “dumbing down”. In our country, we are three years behind the Chinese at age 15. Should our laziness and reliability on technology worsen this gap further? Subsequently, this use of technology would “lower [the] credibility” of exams, as it isn’t testing intelligence or memory. No. It would be testing who is better at doing a Google search. It could lead into losing that sense of accomplishment at doing something hard and succeeding. Though this use of the internet will inevitably become part of exams in the future, perhaps the education system and society isn’t ready for such a change yet.

Whilst the internet is a useful commodity in the real world, it perhaps shouldn’t be used in exams as it could take away from testing actual intelligence and detract from originality.


Electronics & Engineering Division

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