Keep technology out of testing

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Technology has been seeping its way into schools over the past few years, some of it for the worse, some for the better. A new form has recently come into the classroom: online testing.  This happens to be one for the worse.

There has been discussion of taking tests online for a while, but it has only recently started to become a reality. Schools nationwide have been implementing various forms of online testing, and there are plans for it to be used for standardized testing not far in the future. In some schools, the entire school uses computerized testing, however that is not exactly the case at THHS. A few classes here have started using this method for online homework quizzes, or in class quizzes and tests.

Most of us have grown up taking tests on paper, with scantrons and number 2 pencils ready. We are used to writing on the physical test, but with online testing, that privilege is taken away from us. The most common question I have noticed before starting an examination is, “Can we write on the test?” If the answer is yes, sighs of relief pass around the room. If we take these tests on computers, there is no “writing on the test,” or any writing on paper — period. With computers, work that you have to show has to be done in your head. While some of us may be able to do that, most of us still like to do it on paper to confirm that we have not made an error. On paper, it is easier to catch a mistake than on a computer.

One may argue that work does not need to be shown for all problems or even all subjects, but that does not change the fact that you are prone to making more mistakes on a computer. You may accidentally click on the wrong answer choice and not realize it at all, or select the right answer choice and change it to the wrong one instead. On paper, you can quickly see if you bubbled B instead of C.

In addition, not all online testing forms allow you to go back and fix your mistakes. The whole purpose of testing is acclaimed for measuring the knowledge you gained, but you cannot get an accurate reading of what you have learned if penalties are made for errors made on the computer’s behalf.

In opposition to those that are afraid a computer will blow up in their faces, there are those that are extremely tech savvy. For these people, a whole new spectrum of cheating is opened. With paper and pencil, it is relatively easy to spot someone trying to pull something out of their sleeve, or taking furtive glances  at the paper beside them. On a computer, a teacher is not able to see every single computer screen. Some testing programs allow for a “lock-down,” in which no other application may be opened. However, those that are good with computers may still find a way around it.

Like most things, online testing has its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, online testing is better for the environment by significantly reducing the amount of paper printed. Although computerized testing is best kept out of the classrooms, it does not mean that technology cannot be used at all. Computers during lessons have proved to be extremely helpful, whether it be for taking notes or seeing lessons projected on the board.

If used in moderation, technology in the classroom can be phenomenal, but overusing it can be possible.

If used in moderation, technology in the classroom can be a phenomenal thing, but overuse of it is possible.