Technology aids students with a wealth of information and resources, but there’s always the danger of it being misused in several ways

Is technology making learning simpler — or is it simply making it redundant? A debate ensues…

BC: Hi, was trying to reach you last Saturday... Where were you?

AD: Had gone to meet a Professor of Dentistry — he's an expert surgeon as well.

BC: What could a tech fan and a dentist have talked about? The commonalities between the traditional wisdom tooth and the modern Bluetooth?

AD: He had some very interesting things to say about how today’s students were using technology, but for all the wrong reasons — like cheating in their exams, for instance.

BC: That's pretty sad — there have been days when I've wondered how different things would have been if we had the same kind of technology back in my time.

AD: I don't believe it — you’ve actually found something good to say about technology.

BC: Today, you have so many resources online — like the Salman Khan Academy, for instance — besides the deluge of educational CDs, online courses, YouTube videos…. Students have never had it so good.

AD: It must have been tough for you in college, having to depend only on books.

BC: Absolutely! There were certain courses, for which books were issued in the ratio of 1:3, which is one book shared by three students! Then technology evolved and photocopiers came into our lives. Soon photocopying select chapters from books caught on like wildfire, and the copies were passed on from one batch to another.

AD: And then the Internet came along.

BC: Right, I think of the options available for students today — and it saddens me that all they can think of is how to misuse technology.

AD: Not all of them though... We speak of using technology to learn and to prepare for exams, but it is unfortunate that some students use it during the exams — mobiles, websites, and even scientific calculators with answers stored in the memory.

BC: I guess Bluetooth, micro-sized earplugs and hands-free devices that one can attach to mobiles have made it easier for them.

AD: Absolutely, which is also the reason why mobiles are no longer allowed inside exam halls in most places.

BC: But then, students must be thanking technology for making mobiles so small — it’s so easy to hide them anywhere, even under a shirt collar.

AD: And smartphones have smarter applications, so students can log in for online help, have their answers checked for grammar and spelling or use apps to find the answer to problems that might otherwise require them to remember complex formulae.

BC: Back in my time, the only aid we were allowed to carry with us was the log book.

AD: Things have changed, haven't they? Googling for answers, messaging friends, using camera phones to record the question paper and passing it on, crowdsourcing answers using closed social networking groups.

BC: And half the time, the teachers don't even know what's going on.

AD: See, I keep telling you how important it is for the older generations to update themselves on technology.

BC: But why can't these students realise that copying is a waste of time? Marks might get you to an interview, but the minute they start asking questions they know that you don't know much.

AD: Universities are getting wise and have begun to equip themselves on the technology front. For instance, most universities abroad have acquired software like TurnItIn, which helps spot plagiarised papers that have been submitted by the students.

BC: So TurnItIn helps colleges nab errant students and turn them out.

AD: With colleges aspiring for greater transparency in exams, and with teachers getting glassy-eyed about technology, how do you think students are going to react to all that’s happening?

BC: Perhaps they'll look for greater transparency in seeking answers during exams... with Google Glass.

sureshl.india@gmail.com

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