‘e-Cheating’ Students Harness High-Tech Tools

Educators across the country are on red alert as students begin to gain access to sophisticated gadgets that help them cheat. Going as far as to digitally insert answers into soft drink labels, kids are finding new ways to deceive educators and exam boards, writes Greg Toppo at USA Today.

"There's an epidemic of cheating," says Robert Bramucci, vice chancellor for technology and learning services at South Orange Community College District.

"We're not catching them. We're not even sure it's going on."

There are companies thriving on providing these kits for students. One, called Spycheatstuff.com, allows students to mail-order a kit that turns a cellphone or iPod into a hands-free personal cheating device featuring tiny wireless earbuds that allow a test-taker to discreetly "phone a friend" during a test and get answers remotely without putting down the pencil, writes Toppo.

A new study by Common Sense Media has found that more than 35% of teens ages 13 to 17 with cellphones have used the devices to cheat.

52% of those polled admitted to some form of cheating involving the Internet.

Earlier this year, Omar Shahid Khan, 21, an Orange County student, pleaded guilty to stealing Advanced Placement tests and altering college transcripts. Khan is said to have hacked into the school's grading system by installing spyware on school computers.

"This is about the pressures that kids are feeling in school," says Jill Madenberg, a Great Neck, N.Y., college consultant.

"The pressure to do well, the pressure to get into a good college… It's literally all over the country — it's an epidemic of sorts."

Experts have been keen to point out that these technological advances aren't increasing the number of cheating cases, they're just making it harder to detect.

"The naïve folk belief is that cheating never used to be a problem," Bramucci says.

"It's always been a problem."

As a former high school guidance counselor, Madenberg believes that the recent Long Island SAT scandal will act as a positive catalyst for students to discuss the pressures they feel.

"There's no question that people are beginning to look at that," she says.

12 21, 2011
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