A “Feature” That Needs to Be Considered Judiciously

Unless you had your computer turned off yesterday, you missed all of the big announcements from Apple.  Perhaps one of the most speculated was the inclusion of a higher resolution screen on the MacBook Pro.  I was mildly interested in it; after all the new iPad came with that type of screen at about the same price as the previous product.  I wasn’t expecting such a price tag though.  Whoa!  $2249 as a starting price?  Of course, there’s more than the screen and, while the other products in the MacBook Pro line got enhancements, they didn’t get the display.  Interesting.  While I get that there are people who wish to edit in the high def world (“The Boy” is one of them), that’s quite an investment.

But, that’s not what I’m writing about here….it was this story that really caught my eye.  New iPad Feature Prevents Students From Cheating On Tests

It’s a use of a feature designed for Guided Access to help those who are easily distracted stay with a desired application.  Granted, there may be some students with needs who need to be locked into one application.  I’m not sure that there’s much need after that.  After all, I know a certain 2-year old who knows that when Talking Tom wants to sell some in-app stuff, he just taps the X and goes back to tapping away at Tom’s feet.

But, to use this “feature” to keep students from “cheating on tests”? 

That really rubs me the wrong way.  Here’s why…

  1. If you’re progressive enough in your classroom to have this sort of technology, you’re progressive enough to have an assessment that doesn’t rely on simple lookup for answers –  you’re creating something meaningful with the product;
  2. Hopefully, you’re using “Open iPad Tests” like you would “Open Book Tests” and allow for lookups based upon student work.  For me in the computer science classroom, that’s really important.  Do you need to know how to write a Bubble Sort from memory?  I’d be more impressed if you were able to incorporate that routine into a more involved program;
  3. There’s no mention of a mass control of the feature ala Net Support School where a teacher can control all connected devices from a central console;
  4. That pretty much scuttles a BYOD program.  Imagine the letter to parents – “We’re a BYOD classroom.  In order to participate, you must not have an iPad that doesn’t support iOS6, you must have all updates installed, and you must allow me to go in and configure your child’s iPad so that she/he may take the test”

Of course, if you’re having difficulty convincing people to buy technology, you could always point out this feature.  Everyone who’s gone to school can appreciate the educational drill and kill that is “Parts of the Microscope”.  Get the tech and do amazing things with it!

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