So real world scenario…your boss tells you he/she needs a report from you and they must have it in two hours. It’s on a topic that you know about, so that’s fine. The boss leads you to the report writing room where you find a pen, pencil, paper and a calculator. The title of the report is on a board he writes the time on the board and tells you to start. Sound odd but familar? Well of course it is exactly what we ask hundreds of thousands students to do every year to prove their worth.

Denmark has taken the bold step to allow students to use the internet in final exams. Try that here, que Daily Mail and Universities complaining of “dumbing” down and that exams were harder bla bla. The examination system hasn’t realy changed in 60 years, but the world has. I am sure that in every decade until the naughties, that system was still relevant. People had to remember facts in professional jobs. But, since then the way work has change massively. Business, academia, professions etc require people with different skills. My interaction with information has changed massively in the last year, my Iphone and Twitter have opened up new streams of information. These are instant access to info, no debates or arguments anymore as the correct answer is a few taps away. I an writing this blog on my phone while my wife watches a programme stored on Sky+.

Recently a barrister joined my school to become a teacher. The students couldn’t believe that she couldn’t remember case citation. But, as she explianed, she didn’t have to. Internet, law books at hand and colleagues were all available to help. The key skills were problem solving, arguement, explanation, negociation etc. The information needed was secondary.

So future of examinations? Cold gyms, silence, no references, no talking, no mobile phones, no laptops etc. Or assess the outcome not the method. Yes ensure that the work is original, but allow access to the info. The brightest students will still be able to discuss at a higher level, the hardworkers will be able to prepare, the result will show creative problem solvers. but the pressure of remembering facts would go.

If it ever happens wait for the headlines!!!!


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