By Guest Blogger, Mr. P.
At today’s morning meeting, I was scheduled to give my colleagues pointers as to how to use the iPad efficiently in an evaluation situation. But, as is often the case in meetings, we got excited over another topic, and the discussion was so fruitful that it would have been a shame to cut it short. So I thought, what better opportunity to guest blog than this!
Since the issue has been raised because of recent infractions involving the use of an iPad in a formal assessment situation, I thought I would look at the problem and find some pointers to help my colleagues use the iPad in their evaluations. I’m going to try and share my thoughts here.
Is the iPad absolutely essential to your evaluation? If so, why?
Why is the iPad needed for your specific evaluation? Are you allowing kids to research a topic, or are you just allowing them to use a scientific calculator application? If your students need to go online for the evaluation, just know and accept that this is the equivalent of giving an open book exam. Sure, you could tell your kids not to go on FB and share answers, but the truth remains that, given the possibility, some will give in to the temptation and communicate through their tablets; they could possibly argue that it’s not cheating, it’s “collaborating” (as one of our alumna used to put it), but quite frankly, your best weapon of defence against this is vigilance. You could ask the students to flip their desks around so that their iPad always faces you, or just request than you can see the iPad screen at all times, but ultimately, the onus is on you to keep your eyes open.
Thankfully, an iPad doesn’t multitask as efficiently as laptops do, so it’s more of a hassle to switch from one app to the other and therefore very easy to detect when kids aren’t using the apps they are supposed to be using. Again, in that situation, vigilance is key.
But what if I need the iPad, just not for its connectivity?
Aaaahh, now we’re talking. If you want your kids to use a certain app in the evaluation that doesn’t require connection to the network, then you can kindly ask them to turn their iPad to airplane mode.
In your Settings app, Airplane mode is at the very top of your list on the left. It was designed so that such devices could be turned off while a plane takes off or lands, because apparently, the possibility of interference and running the plane in the ground because you wanted to check your email is real. To turn your iPad to Airplane mode, simply slide the switch to the right, like on the next image:
As you can see, the WiFi and Bluetooth capacities of the iPad have been disabled. No link to the outside world. Notice the airplane symbol that appeared in the top left corner. That’s your proof the iPad’s been disconnected. This way, students can’t communicate with one another, at least not with the tablet. Good ol’baseball signals could still be used. Look out for that.
On your end, if you really want to push your invigilation to big-brotherish levels, you could also turn on your Settings app and select Bluetooth. This way, your tablet will detect any other device that’s connected to the network. I ran a test for this in the rotunda, a test of which you can see the results on the following screen cap:
Three devices were on during my test. I suspect the phone was the property of a prospective parent that was sitting on the benches, waiting with his daughter, a future Traffite, no doubt. The other two devices were laptops carried by kids, computers that were not in use but willing and able to connect with my iPad.
For this to work, kids must have activated their Bluetooth capacities on their iPad. You could ask them to turn on both the Bluetooth and the Airplane mode (in that order) during a test, so this way you’d be able to see any device that tries to connect. Or you could also instil a feeling of trust, give the students rope, and hope for the best. That, may I stress it again, requires vigilance on your part.
By the way, the Bluetooth function is a sure-fire way of detecting cellphones in your classroom. Just sayin’.