Dumbing Down: Google Search Should be Allowed in Tests says Head of Exam Board

Google Search Should be Allowed in Tests says Head of Exam Board

By Tom Pritchard on 01 May 2015 at 8:30AM

We’ve all been there at some point or another, having to sit at one of dozens/hundreds of desks regurgitating information onto an exam sheet. We all hate exams, but what would happen if we were able to stop and use Google halfway through? One exam board chief thinks it’s a great idea.

Speaking to the Radio 4’s the Today programme, OCR chief executive Mark Dawe said that allowing the internet in the exam room reflected the way students learn and how they would work in the future. Limited time to search would mean that students would still need to have basic knowledge before they arrived in the exam.

He also compared the idea to having books available during a test, and made a point of saying that in reality students didn’t have time to properly consult the book — meaning they had to learn everything anyway.

“Surely when they learn in the classroom, everyone uses Google if there is a question. It is more about understanding what results you’re seeing rather than keeping all of that knowledge in your head, because that’s not how the modern world works. . . It’s about understanding the tools they have got available and how to utilise them. When we are asking a question where we know there’s access to the internet, we could ask a different question – it’s about the interpretation, the discussion.”

The Campaign for Real Education condemned the idea as ‘dumbing down’, with spokesperson Chris McGovern declaring that there is a crisis of standards in the UK. Speaking with the BBC he said that you could have an exam in how to use Google, but it wouldn’t be the same as doing a history or geography exam and testing what children are carrying in their heads.

I’m inclined to half agree with what McGovern is saying, and think being able to have Google in an exam room beats the point of actually taking exams. That being said I feel I have to point out that exams, as they currently are, don’t really test what you know, just what you can memorise and regurgitate in a two hour period. That said, it’s not like there’s a valid alternative right now.

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