iPhones, Androids and Facebook…Oh My…
In a TED talk, Australian neuroscientist David Chalmers claimed that our iPhones have become literal extensions of our minds, just like prosthetic limbs or pace makers have become extensions of the bodies of those who use them. His perspective – there seems to be no hard line between what we think of as the ‘mind’ and the technology we have invented to take on the roles our minds once played.
Indeed, our minds are becoming increasingly dependent and connected to our technology. In many regards, this seems to be a fantastic development: we can keep track of our meetings and schedules easier, we can set reminders and store crucial information and we can even use technology to figure out how much we should tip our server for dinner.
However, the relationship between our minds and our technology gets a little dicey when it comes to testing. More often, students are finding ways to discreetly use technology to give them an unfair advantage. For example, Russia was recently hit with a cheating “epidemic” due to students sharing standardized test questions and answers over social media. Closer to home, students in 242 schools across California were found to have shared test-related pictures over social media while taking the STAR exams. The bottom line? Schools and testing institutions find themselves behind the curve far too often when in comes to technological trends. They are paying the price with reduced academic performance indexes, revenues and reputations.
If, as David Chalmers believes, our technology is becoming more interlocked with our minds, schools and testing institutions have to be the first ones to realize the strengths and weaknesses of having digitally-wired students. They need to understand the tools students use, how they use them, and what they can do to prevent it. The administrators who spend the most time and resources staying up-to-date with test security will be the ones who enjoy the greatest protection, peace of mind and future success.