UK students use smartwatches to cheat in exams


UK school teachers are complaining that certain smartwatches advertised on Amazon come with functions specifically targeted at helping students to cheat at exams. Deputy head teachers in several secondary schools say that the hidden market for these smartwatches is booming.

The modern-day cheat devices offer a great temptation to stressed-out students studying for important examinations, such as the GCSEs, A Levels or International Baccalaureate, according to BBC News.

The teachers want more academic institutions to be aware of the problem and seek to ban smartwatches from exams and tests, and they also want exam boards to challenge companies that sell these devices, particularly since the smartwatches can now be obtained on Amazon, where they are described as giving students the ability to store and quickly view large sections of text and pictures.

In an exam, the student can surreptitiously look at the screen of the watch on their wrists, and if an examiner walks past, pressing an "emergency button" on the side of the watch will remove the incriminating text and replace it with a digital clock face.

The smartwatches supports a variety of file formats, including Notepad .txt files, JPG and GIF image files, as well as AVI, WMV and WAV video and audio files. The watch can also be programmed in 27 different languages, including most European languages, both Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew and Arabic.

They also include some functions that indicate it could be used for covert spying investigations as it has a built-in microphone for recording audio. As almost everything is made in China, it is likely that these cheap off-brand smartwatches originate from there as well, although at least one seller on Amazon and eBay is shipping the products from the US.

Mobile phones of any sort, from 1G up to smartphones have been banned from examination halls around the world for at least 15 years, and now many institutions are also banning smartwatches and other digital wrist-worn devices, like fitness bands, unless they are traditional analogue watches.

The Joint Council for Qualifications, speaking on behalf of exam boards, said schools should tell students "what is and what isn't allowed in the examination room".

"A candidate found in possession of anything used for cheating - like these watches - would be reported to the awarding organisation whose examination was affected.

"This could result in the student being disqualified from the exam and the overall qualification."

e-Learning Update