This morning on my drive into work I heard a story on the BBC World News radio program about schools in Denmark allowing students to take final exams while accessing the Internet. The article the story was based on can be found here. What I like about the story’s concept is that the questions Danish students are being asked require them to use knowledge rather than regurgitate knowledge. In today’s highly-connected world, finding information has become much easier and in turn it has become more difficult to be the “smartest person in the room.” This is an important concept to remember when planning lessons and designing assessments. As educators in today’s highly-connected world we need to be designing lessons and assessments that ask students to synthesize and apply the information they locate.
The other part of the story that I enjoyed was the interviews with teachers and students. The obvious concern that a lot of people listening to and reading the story will have is about cheating. The teachers addressed this concern by creating questions that cannot, in most cases, be answered well with simple cut and paste. The teachers and students also claim that the penalties for cheating are too severe to take the risk of cheating by emailing or instant messaging other students. While the stiff penalties are certainly a deterrent to cheating, it’s more important to note that the emphasis of the exams is placed on application of knowledge rather than recitation of knowledge.