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Should computers replace pen and paper in all exams?

10:16 UK time, Friday, 25 February 2011

An education expert is calling for all exams to be taken on a computer. Is this a good idea?

Isabel Nisbet, outgoing chief of the Ofqual qualifications watchdog, argues that GCSEs and A-levels will become "invalid" for digitally native pupils if writing materials are retained - she believes that children in the future should be tested in the way they learn.

But Dr Sheila Lawlor, director of think-tank Politeia, says this would create practical problems, and believes allowing children to write and analyse information in an accessible way teaches them how to think.

How do you think pupils should take their exams? Has the use of pen and paper had its day? Would computer security and speed issues make it difficult for computer-based exams?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

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Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Let me get this right:

    Pen and paper have worked quite well for quite a number of years but all of sudden they are no longer 'fit for purpose'. Why is that then ?

  • Comment number 2.

    It makes sense in some respects and is a move with the times, but the cost will be far greater, and students who do badly will have the excuse that 'the computer wasn't working properly'.
    The invigilators will have to be tech support people too.

  • Comment number 3.

    Cue lots of knee-jerk comments from Daily Mail readers, huffing about new-fangled technology : "it's new and modern, therefore we don't like it !!"

    If computers are replacing pen and paper, that is progress.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    As far as I can remember my pen and paper didn't need upgrading every year, and was pretty cost effective.

    This is madness...

  • Comment number 6.

    3. At 10:40am on 25 Feb 2011, Tory Bankers Stole My Cash wrote:
    Cue lots of knee-jerk comments from Daily Mail readers...
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Cue lots of comments about comments by Daily Mail readers.

  • Comment number 7.

    No. The real world out there isn't like that. Exams need not only to show that someone understands their subject, but also that they can work in different environments.

    And how long will be it be before someone is able to hack in to assist?

    Then the server crashes for the day, and all schedules are out. Are the invigilators paid overtime? Are school holidays delayed? We are dealing with children, who cannot be expected to begin their exams at 7pm just to catch up in the way that an office might.



  • Comment number 8.

    This isn't a good idea for all subjects. Maths being a good example.

    Much of the grading on maths exams is done on the process of how you got to the answer. With formulae expansions, graphs or other methodologies.

    Much easier to just doodle those on paper than to type things out on a computer.

  • Comment number 9.

    I know people sometime go over the top with regards to school leaver’s inability to read and write, but if children are tough on computers, and tested on computers, will they actually be able to write when they leave school?

    Granted I'm typing this on a computer, but I still use a notepad at work on a daily basis, as do all of my colleagues.

  • Comment number 10.

    Reading and writing along with mathematics is funamental to all children's learning - howis using a computer going to help with children's writing ability? Why change something that ain't broke!!! Computer lessons in school should be an extra subject once you reach seconadry school if it is something you want to learn, it should not be compulsary. Yes, computing is the way forward in today's mixed up society but writing should still be the main way of learning and taking exams, apart from anything else, its cheaper!

  • Comment number 11.

    Like all skills master the basic tools first then use the more complex ones.

  • Comment number 12.

    I guess it benefits examiners who have to decipher poor handwriting.

    Fine for essay-writing, but what about exams which need mathematical equations? And how can you check a student's ability in spelling and grammar if there's a spell-checker and grammar-correcter?

  • Comment number 13.

    Probably rather expensive and in many cases ridiculously awkward. For Mathematics and any subject dependent on mathematics this would be a huge difficulty. Let's take the onus off handwriting as this super important thing - but removing it from exams seems impractical.

    What we certainly should do though is make kids take AT LEAST one exam to see if they CAN use a computer to do basic tasks (print something, find resources on the internet, and most relevantly, type well).

  • Comment number 14.

    I see no reason why some exams or parts of exams couldn't be completed on a computer (ignoring the cost aspect). The world is changing and PC's are a big part of the modern world.

    I still think some written aspect should be retained though. From personal experience, my spelling and handwriting abilities declined somewhat from little practise. To be able to construct and write a sentence on paper is still a valid skill and shouldn't be pushed aside.

  • Comment number 15.

    Cost to taxpayer of one computer £200+

    Pupils sitting one exam at anyone time in one of many institions: up to several hundred.

    Overall cost including IT, PAT testing etc.. £hundreds of thousands.

    cost to taxpayer of pen and paper: negligible.

  • Comment number 16.

    No, I am not anti-technology I just know this would create chaos.

    Think of the key problems:

    Technical Faults
    Getting the Equipment into the exam halls
    Poor quality equipment
    Extra investment
    Typing ability

    I am all for computers in certain necessary subject or parts of exams or helping someone with special needs. However, given most schools buy cheap poor quality computers and laptops this is hardly going to help them. Bigger budgets would be required and we'd all end up funding that too, or it'll be the better funded schools get the better computers. While those who type quickest are able to do better than someone who has studied their subject best.

    It is better to establish less exams and more results on regular achievements and improvements. That way students can be successful for attending school, doing the work well and with the right tools at convenient times.

  • Comment number 17.

    No wonder so many young people these days can't spell or write properly.

    has no one realised that yo can't read text on a computer screen for more than around ten minutes and that the spellchecker doesn't check grammar ad context and americanises your writing?

    The whole thing sounds like a scam to cover up the fact that the teachers themselves probably can't write or spell properly due to over reliance on IT.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Isabel Nisbet, outgoing chief of the Ofqual qualifications watchdog"

    I'm very glad she's leaving if this is the best she can come up with.

    Sounds to me like she's trying to cover up the issue of children being unable to read and write properly. Tackle the abysmal standard of teaching and get the basics in place before going down this ridiculous route.

  • Comment number 19.

    Is she working for a computer equipment supplier now?

    Because that would be the only party benefiting from such nonsense...

  • Comment number 20.

    Just thinking - people will be unable to start work due to carpal tunnel syndrome before they have been able to start work!!

  • Comment number 21.

    Should computers replace pen and paper in all exams?

    Personally, I believe that it's inevitable - it's just a matter of when and how fast it happens. And as long as the (non-internet enabled) computer is supplied to the pupil by the school just before the exam starts with only what is required for the exam loaded up onto it (no need to make it easy for them to cheat), I can't see the problem.

    E-book readers are already making large inroads into the realm of the printed word and a few public libraries already offer e-books on loan for library users. I speak as a professional librarian and I'm all in favour of this - there's no point in being a Luddite as it's going to happen whether I or my fellow librarians like it or not. We just have to deal with it and develop our profession in a fast moving modern context. Or get left behind. In the benefits queue!

  • Comment number 22.

    This could work for some subjects but the cost would be incredibly high.

    Tools such as spell check and the internet would need switching off.

    Personally I like the pen & paper way but I appreciate that times are changing.

  • Comment number 23.

    Two points:
    1. for Auntie - what's a 'digitally native pupil' (her second paragraph)?
    2. for HaveIGotThatWrong at post 1 - yes, you have.

  • Comment number 24.

    Yeah, why not?

    It's not as if you need to be able to write to flip burgers or sweep up.......

  • Comment number 25.

    I would love it if they let all students use a computer in exams.

    I am currently a uni student studying law.

    I generally have to answer 4 questions in 3 hours, 45 mins each.

    If at my Uni, you have a disability, you get to use a computer and an extra hour to do the examination, me and my friends would kill for that!!

    I'm not saying get rid of pen and paper, for maths exams they are necessary but for mainly writing exams computers would be a god send for the now computer literate generation. Because us law students have to write so fast to get everything down, so much so that one of my friends medical law paper was so scribbled she had to come in and read it to a tape recorder for the marker!!

  • Comment number 26.

    So far computer exams would be good for things like English, or writing a history article. It's not however easy to solve algebraic equations, or integrate a complicated function by typing in a word processor.

    Maths should still be done on pencil and paper.

    Paper is not obsolete. It's just a different medium from typing in a computer.

    Imagine the scenario where people did not have arms and did all exams by talking into a computer. Then a thousands years down the line a scientist engineers GM arms for humans.

    Suddenly we would be hearing stories in the electronic news that schoolchildren can now "write for themselves"... and hearing of how wonderful a scientific achievement it is. Then we would be able to write our own shopping lists and scribble down notes at lectures without the aid of an electronic writing tablet.

    What is amazing is a pen that one of my scientist colleagues uses for writing. He can write his own notes by hand at the bench but a camera on the pen makes an electronic copy of everything he writes. The pen then uploads the text to a computer. Then my colleague can do things like search for the information on the computer copy and go back to his notes and find the page where he wrote it down. It's also very easy for him to send his notes, or a type set copy, upstairs to the professor or half way around the world by email.

    He has the best of both worlds !

  • Comment number 27.

    Msg 12. At 10:54am on 25 Feb 2011, grumpy old man wrote:

    "I guess it benefits examiners who have to decipher poor handwriting.

    Fine for essay-writing, but what about exams which need mathematical equations? And how can you check a student's ability in spelling and grammar if there's a spell-checker and grammar-correcter?"


    There's maths software for the symbols etc and, given this, the exam instructions can always stipulate that workings should be shown where appropriate. And that marks will be lost if this is not complied with.

    Spelling and grammar checkers can be disabled and locked by the schools' ICT coordinators, who will have administrator passwords, thus making sure that pupils cannot re-enable these.


  • Comment number 28.

    Please don't tell me another education "expert". The education "experts" to date have managed to produce generations of young people who are illiterate, inumerate and are incapable of doing mental arithmetic. I have a colleague of many years who told me some years ago that a number of universities have had to introduce both remedial maths and english classes for new students. This being the case how on earth did they manage to get the grades to be accepted for university in the first place.So now we have some raving idiot suggesting that kids should do their exams using a computer. Is this because they do not have the ability to write? or is it because they are too lazy to make the effort to write legibly. I really do dispair of educationalists. Most of them can't teach and instead make a very good living advising professional teachers how not to teach. Young people need to learn the basics including the dreaded word discipline when learning core subjects of maths, english and science. Even those for those studying golf course management, social science, politics or media studies have to understand the basics of communication and arithmetic. I have over a number of years interviewed graduates for well paid positions and been unimpressed with their slap happy attitude as projected by their cv's and their poor communication skills. If this is a result of educationalists, then we need to ensure that for the well being of business and young people's aspirations, that the same educationalists are kept well out of the way of education.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Sounds to me like she's trying to cover up the issue of children being unable to read and write properly. Tackle the abysmal standard of teaching and get the basics in place before going down this ridiculous route."

    How can someone who can't read use a computer? Did you actually engage your logic senses at all before ranting?

  • Comment number 31.

    As a former graduate who answered many maths questions that involved drawing diagrams (trigonometry first and applied maths later on - Simple Harmonic Motion as an example), how could a mathematics paper be answered on a computer?



  • Comment number 32.

    6. At 10:45am on 25 Feb 2011, HaveIGotThatWrong wrote:
    3. At 10:40am on 25 Feb 2011, Tory Bankers Stole My Cash wrote:
    Cue lots of knee-jerk comments from Daily Mail readers...
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Cue lots of comments about comments by Daily Mail readers.


    =============================================

    Of course this country would be a much nicer place if Daily Mail readers weren't allowed to have their say.

  • Comment number 33.

    If the benefits outweigh the obstacles then why not?

    I'm sure there was plenty of grumbling when oral exams (in Latin) were replaced by written ones...

  • Comment number 34.

    As to the question, yes they should. Why? Far more places of work use computers than pens and paper these days. There is a place for both but any company which still relies solely on pens and paper is significantly behind the times.

    Of course it would mean paying more tax, but then surely this is a price worth paying for a better standard of education?

  • Comment number 35.

    No! Computers should NOT replace pen and paper.
    We need our children to be able to read and write, not tap a computer keyboard and use a spell checker.
    Besides has anybody considered repetative strain injury? We have enough problems with over use of keyboards as it is, without adding to it.

  • Comment number 36.

    When I went to school personal computers did not did not exist but I wish they had having got my hands on a BBC B when I was 18 I have never looked back.
    I am more than happy for the pen to be replaced by the computer, as long as writing skills are taught. Perhaps there should be a compulsory exam for all students called "writing skills" and then we can forget about the pen for other activities.
    We need to educate our kids to work in a digital world.

  • Comment number 37.

    Msg 23. At 11:14am on 25 Feb 2011, david wrote:

    "Two points:
    1. for Auntie - what's a 'digitally native pupil' (her second paragraph)?
    2. for HaveIGotThatWrong at post 1 - yes, you have."


    A 'digital native' is a person born after digital technology became widely used. In other words, it's probably someone who was born after about 1985. They've been brought up on computers, calculators etc., and are better able to cope because of this. These guys are not going to have any of the problems us older guys imagine they're going to have with doing exams electronically.

    I should point out that many schools already issue ALL pupils with a laptop, Tablet PC or UMPC (usually with touch screens) for school and home use. The kids don't seem to have any problems with these. It's only the teachers who struggle, - and these are gradually being replaced by a younger generation of teachers who ARE digitally native.

  • Comment number 38.

    25. At 11:15am on 25 Feb 2011, buttons wrote:

    If at my Uni, you have a disability, you get to use a computer and an extra hour to do the examination, me and my friends would kill for that!!
    --------------------------------------------

    What, kill for a disability ?

  • Comment number 39.

    I can see how this might work for some subjects, but it would be a huge problem in others - notably mathematics and science, in which calculations would need to be made and where the marks for the answers come not just from the answer itself, but how the student worked it out. Also, presumably spell-checkers would not be allowed when it comes to essay answers where necessary.
    Then you have the cost of having to buy all these computers, and then there is the issue of technical faults; there is bound to be a hardware or software issue in an exam, no matter how much progress technology makes. I think that in principle, replacing pen and paper in exams with computers is something that could be done, but in practice, it could be very problematic to get it right.

  • Comment number 40.

    Main article:

    Isabel Nisbet, outgoing chief of the Ofqual qualifications watchdog, argues that GCSEs and A-levels will become "invalid" for digitally native pupils if writing materials are retained - she believes that children in the future should be tested in the way they learn.

    But Dr Sheila Lawlor, director of think-tank Politeia. . .

    ----------------------

    Firstly, I'm so pleased to see that non-jobs such as "outgoing chief of the Ofqual qualifications watchdog" and "director of think-tank Politeia" are thriving in these straightened economic times. I take it that the latest bonfire of the Quangos was extinguished on health and safety grounds.

    Secondly I am alarmed that "digitally native pupils" are soon to be (as far as I can tell from the article) entitled to invalidity benefit (if it still exists). Excuse my French (I got a CSE in it) but what the chuffing 'eck is a "digitally native pupil"?

    I remember sitting with a very serious bunch of kids doing my O-Level exams (you can "Google" that if you don't know what O-Levels are/were) but never saw a sort of computerised Pocahontas wrestling with differential calculus.
    Now, thirty six years later (I actually had to work that out by typing the numbers 16 and 52 into excel) I am just about capable of doing "take-aways" (both mathematical and edible) but by crimmeny my punctuation is shot to pieces. And spelling too, though I know you should never start a sentence with "and".

  • Comment number 41.

    At least having to use pen and paper proves that the candidate can actually read and write, which today's educational establishment seems to think is not of any importance. When universities and prospective employers are fast approaching the stage of regarding school exam results as at best dodgy, anything that enhances the abilities of pupils should be welcomed. Using a computer is no substitute for actually being expected to think, rather than have a machine do it for one. The computer may be a useful tool for aiding research and learning, but it certainly is no substitute for using one's brain.

  • Comment number 42.

    I left school in 1969 at 15 years old and have spent the rest of my life working with computers and other technology of all sorts but back in the day when we took exams part of that exam was showing on paper the complete process of working out of say a mathematical problem, another part was spelling and punctuation and showing that we understood such things as nouns and pronouns etc, neatness of hand writing and content was also taken into account.

    The reason for this was so that when you eventualy went for job interviews you could show employers that you were capable and adapt and were proficient in both reading and writing.

    The point I suppose I am trying to make is that there is nothing at all wrong with computers but as an employer it is of no use to me whatsoever if someone can press keys all day but cannot put a sentence together without using a spell checker and they cannot do simple maths without using a calculator or a spreadsheet.

  • Comment number 43.

    It would certainly be a good idea for for pupils with conditions such as dyslexia, because of their reduced writing ability, but it is otherwise a ridiculous idea. Pupils do not equate computers with taking exams, they see them as a means of social communication and entertainment. I can imagine a headline, "pupil plays games on computer during exam". If this is the suggestion of an education expert, no wonder the system is in a mess.

  • Comment number 44.

    Walk before you can run

  • Comment number 45.

    This will discriminate against pupils who have poor typewriting skills, especially in subjects where a lot of narrative is required or maths and science where formulas have to be included in the answer.

    All computers used would have to have the same operating system and software version to avoid advantage for those using systems on which they have been taught.

    And as a previous poster has pointed out, all inbuilt assistance would have to be disabled.

    In short, forget it !

  • Comment number 46.

    Ofqual chief executive Isabel Nisbet is Not an ‘education expert’.
    She is a glorified statistician and regulator for the government.
    It would make her life easier if all data was collated on databases in the first instance.
    Any real ‘Educational Expert’ would tell you that children need to be able to read and WRITE!!
    What next, no need to do physical exercise as long as you know the theory?
    There is too much reliance on computers in schools as it is.
    Let the children be more practical.
    The next generation of children should NOT be computer experts on 'cut and past' to just fulfil a schools attainment levels.
    That is where she would like it all to go. It makes her life easier!!



  • Comment number 47.

    We are not born connected to a computer like a placenta. Pupils should show they're independent of computers and are able to write legibly. Something still a lot of people, including teachers, can’t. Yes it does course problems. For starters, they look illiterate and they can't be understood. God what happened to learning to actually learning to write, no one ever suggested the same when typewriters were brought in and they were invented before the advent of compulsory state education. Not to mention how off putting it'll be to have to type everything, while staring at a bright screen and how easy it would be to cheat. How about focusing on improving grammar. It's completely missed out in the comprehensive schools I went to. Why has the English language become so insignificant to teachers and people in general? But yet they still want to be taken seriously!

  • Comment number 48.

    I still think Johnny plans to go to the exam with an unwashed arm or two.

  • Comment number 49.

    I suppose it would reduce postage costs for the exams which are sent to USA to be marked.

    I wonder what the USA exam markers qualification and standards are for the English language in comparison to "USA version of English, and whether this affects exam results.

    I would suggest that the so called education expert who is calling for this is not an expert at all as she totally ignores so much relevence of physical paper exams, and she seems to me to be one of these liberalistic idealists whos meddling in education will once again result in declining abilitys just for the sake of her perceptions of modernism.

    This is not to say that there are not relevent parts of exams which should be completed on computers.

  • Comment number 50.

    Does this also mean that students, who use the computer almost universally, in class and in their homework, will get their marks upgraded when they use pen and paper in existing exams ???

  • Comment number 51.

    15. At 10:56am on 25 Feb 2011, Iain wrote:

    cost to taxpayer of pen and paper: negligible.
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Not really.You have to consider the cost of the exam papers. If produced internally you have to incorporate the cost of paper, photocopying, admin staff time, wastage etc.
    If you're talking about external exam board costs add in distribution and collection costs to and from the schools and to and from the examiners.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have found over years of computer use that I have almost forgotten how to write - and when I do it is pretty illegible.

    My view, hand writing is an important communication skill, and exams should be hand written where possible.

  • Comment number 53.

    Does "Digitally native" mean "Unable to read and write", then ?

  • Comment number 54.

    So long as the spell checker is disabled, why not! Ok tongue firmly in cheek with that comment.

    But I have to say get that getting ideas down on paper is a useful skill. Using a computer might make it too easy to copy and paste paragraphs around as planning and getting things right first time needs to tested and is esential is essay based exams.

    Besides not every job requires a PC but note making and writing may be still valuable.

  • Comment number 55.

    How to you take a woodwork exam on a computer?

  • Comment number 56.

    Thought the thought of using a computer to demonstrate a proof of Newtons 3rd law appeals.

  • Comment number 57.

    @40 WiseOldBob:

    Very amusing post :-)

    I guess we were "digitally naive pupils". And for "take-aways" I find Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Calculator easier!

  • Comment number 58.

    As a teacher of computing... I say NO!!!

    Many youngsters have appalling handwriting and cannot cope without a spelling checker already...

    I'm happy with wordprocessed course work, and adept with e-submission and marking thereof.... but it is still necessary in the modern world to be able to wield a pen to effect.

    I know - since a stroke a few years ago, I cannot hand write although I have retained the ability to touch-type, and I still mourn the loss of the ability to WRITE!

  • Comment number 59.

    Just let the computer take the exam - I despair. How can a candidate be judged when it is not even clear whether they can write/spell.

  • Comment number 60.

    No No No!

    This would be the beginning of the end for the ability to write, it's then a small step to computer voice recognition (dictation), then there will be less need to read.

    Core skills based on reading and writing will decline.

    Bad idea.





  • Comment number 61.

    Should computers replace pen and paper in exams in a word no.

    I remember that certain subjects used to have a practical side to the exam how is that going to work.

    I can just imagine the reaction of some students sitting certain exams after they have been used for other subjects.

    Please Sir I can't do my exam somebodys put cake in the slot and it gone all over the keyboard.

    But silliness aside pen and paper should stay. What happens if you are lucky to finds a job and the system crashes at work but jobs still have to be done but you can only use pen and paper.

  • Comment number 62.

    I know this isn't part of the culture we live in nowadays, but why not give people the choice.

    Make computers available to students who want to use them, but if they decide to sit an exam in the traditional fashion, fine.

    Most coursework, essays and dissertations are all word processed anyway. GCSE’s are probably the only exams that require a hand written exam. Some of those are multiple choice, so could also be completed on a computer.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t employ someone who didn’t have the ability to write. My job is almost 100% computer based. However when the computers do break (far to often) we have to resort to handwriting a lot of our work. I struggle with spelling when this happens as I rely so much on spell check. What would happen to someone who has never had to hand write a sentence in their life?

  • Comment number 63.

    46. At 11:42am on 25 Feb 2011, reflector2 wrote:

    ...
    What next, no need to do physical exercise as long as you know the theory?
    ...

    ---

    No, the school gym (if it still exists) will be kitted out with Wii's.

  • Comment number 64.

    "34. At 11:33am on 25 Feb 2011, lethal_vettori wrote:
    As to the question, yes they should. Why? Far more places of work use computers than pens and paper these days. There is a place for both but any company which still relies solely on pens and paper is significantly behind the times.

    Of course it would mean paying more tax, but then surely this is a price worth paying for a better standard of education?"

    Learning to type isn't hard and certainly something schools shouldn’t waste too much time and resources on. While learning to write properly takes most of a childhood. Most work involving computers don't require much typing, just filling in online forms. Writing is still needed in most jobs, from also filling in forms, to writing in lab books, marking people's work (many students can't read what their lecturer’s corrections), passing messages (not always done electronically), writing on white boards, taking notes during meetings, group sessions for generating ideas (typing would take too long), planning and many other tasks. A person who can not type well can still be understood, while someone who can not write can not. It's horrible to see messy writing and it shows on a person. A lot of people seem to be oblivious of this when it's their writing.

  • Comment number 65.

    In some exams it would make sense. Do the exam and instantly get your grade. It would save on examiner costs, the student get the result instantly so no waiting for months. I’ve done a few exams on the computer like this and found them fine.
    http://npoliticsf.wordpress.com/


  • Comment number 66.

    i am not really going to explain myself but absolutely not! So when computers go down we will have a generation of the future workers who will not know how to write?? We already have a generation of young people who cannot do mental arithmetic so what now, people who cannot write and have no hand writing skills????? I have to say that I would sack Isabel Nisbet just for even suggesting such a completely ridiculous idea.

  • Comment number 67.

    3. At 10:40am on 25 Feb 2011, Tory Bankers Stole My Cash wrote:
    Cue lots of knee-jerk comments from Daily Mail readers, huffing about new-fangled technology
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Through the post, presumably.

  • Comment number 68.

    is it me..a computer is taken into the exam room for the purpose of answering questions...and therefor can be used to research and answer..why bother with exams?being able to research is not the same as learning. we dont need schools or teachers anymore, just implant a usb port at birth and plug them in.

  • Comment number 69.

    32. At 11:31am on 25 Feb 2011, lethal_vettori wrote:
    6. At 10:45am on 25 Feb 2011, HaveIGotThatWrong wrote:
    3. At 10:40am on 25 Feb 2011, Tory Bankers Stole My Cash wrote:
    Cue lots of knee-jerk comments from Daily Mail readers...
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Cue lots of comments about comments by Daily Mail readers.


    =============================================

    Of course this country would be a much nicer place if Daily Mail readers weren't allowed to have their say.

    =============================================

    We CAN dream I suppose....

  • Comment number 70.

    To add to my comment, what if all the computers go down due to a virus and what if they arrange hackers to help them?? No way is this a good idea.

  • Comment number 71.

    38. At 11:35am on 25 Feb 2011, HaveIGotThatWrong wrote:
    25. At 11:15am on 25 Feb 2011, buttons wrote:

    If at my Uni, you have a disability, you get to use a computer and an extra hour to do the examination, me and my friends would kill for that!!
    --------------------------------------------

    What, kill for a disability ?

    --------------------------------------------
    I know what he means.
    Personally,I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

  • Comment number 72.

    44. At 11:39am on 25 Feb 2011, Poddy100 wrote:
    Walk before you can run

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________
    Walk before you can run? Never, sir. Never in this life. It's too short to do anything but lift the stakes. Run? No. Rather jump from a high cliff. Learn to fly on the way down. Take a rocket to the stars, and never worry if you hit the ground on the way. Live life. Be exhilarated. Dare to dare, and if you fail, fail magnificently. I'll never see seventy again (though hope reigns supreme), yet I'll give anyone a run - not a walk - for their money. We've got computers. Let's use them.

  • Comment number 73.

    This would effectively finish the examination system. There is no guarantee that most students would not cheat. It would be easy enough to email answers, copy paste answers via a memory stick. No matter how standalone the examiners will make the computers they will not outwit those who would cheat and it will also throw down the gauntlet to geeks who will make a lot of money out of assisting cheats.
    The examination system is poor enough in this country in any case without making it worse. Unless of course the government is determined to dilute the standards further. Oh hang on of course someone has worked out that it will save money. Well then end of argument as saving money trumps everything even if it makes no sense to do so. All part of the collective madness that this government has become.

  • Comment number 74.

    Changing the way we write isn't going to disguise the fact we are a nation of dunces.

  • Comment number 75.

    "Oops guys. [Insert: one or more of] Network failure, power cut, hard drives collapsed, laptop carrying data has been lost or stolen, software has a bug, buggy keyboard, reactionary mouse, monitor colour caste, monitor resolution bug, long sighted operator difficulty. You will all have to sit the exam, from the start, again."

    as compared to

    "Oops my pencils broken"; "Okay here is another one".

    That's progress for you.

  • Comment number 76.

    I bet this is something to do with the loonies from 'health & safety' After all, you could stab someone with a pen and cut yourself with the paper.

  • Comment number 77.

    I think it's fair that some aspects of exams could be done on computers but it simply isn't practical to totally get rid of pen and paper.

    What happens when one of the computers crashes half way through an exam and the student loses their work?

    Just because we type more than we write nowadays doesn't mean that there is no place for handwriting. It's still a basic skill just like reading.

    what's next? Get rid of reading the exam questions because we can listen to audiobooks instead of reading them??

    Just because the technology exists does not automatically mean it is better than traditional methods. There is a place for both methods.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think this is a totally ridiculous idea!! I've done GCSEs and A Levels and I did very well, relying on the traditional method of pen and paper. If officials are worried that kids today are becoming 'digital natives' then perhaps exams with pen and paper would teach them not to spend 24/7 on the computer. They learn in classrooms out of books and write on paper in lessons, so why should it be any different in exams? Yes, technology is changing, I mean gadgets like the Amazon Kindle are replacing actual books, but it would just not be a viable option for the whole of the country doing GCSEs and A Levels to do them on a computer - it's just wrong!!!

  • Comment number 79.

    This would give unfair advantage to anyone who can type, unless you are going to teach this too.

    Other than that, I don't see it as a problem for most exams, other than cost. Many exams could be downloaded saving on paper and inconvience when papers go missing. The security measures would have to be good though.

  • Comment number 80.

    At post 49 MrWonderfulReality expresses concern at declining standards.
    Would it therefore be churlish of me to point out that -
    markers needs an apostrophe somewhere
    his second paragraph needs a question mark
    so called should probably be hyphenated
    relevence and relevent should be relevance and relevant
    whos should be whose
    and abilities should be abilities?
    He can redeem himself by telling me what Auntie means by digitally native pupils?

  • Comment number 81.

    38. At 11:35am on 25 Feb 2011, HaveIGotThatWrong wrote:
    25. At 11:15am on 25 Feb 2011, buttons wrote:

    If at my Uni, you have a disability, you get to use a computer and an extra hour to do the examination, me and my friends would kill for that!!
    --------------------------------------------

    What, kill for a disability ?
    --------------------------------------------

    No, because that is insensitive and rude. I was just using it as an example and I do belive you just picked it out to start a fight.
    Kill for the ability to have an extra hour and a computer to do our exam on! It would truly be brilliant!

  • Comment number 82.

    You have to laugh at the comments stating that computers would not allow the student to generate graphs or calculate equations.

    I do both regularly in my job using a computer. The datasets I work with are so large that it would be impossible to manipulate them by hand.

    It looks like this HYS has been hijacked by the "Back in my day..." brigade who are terrified of change (or, more likely, haven't kept up with it) and have no idea of the skills required in the modern world.

    I remember the older generation criticising me at school because we were allowed to use calculators (gasp!). I'd love to see the notebooks of one of these people if they did my job and had to tot up 200,000 lines of text using a tree-worth of pencils.

  • Comment number 83.

    I smell the whiff of procurement - it wouldn't be that Becta is trying to flog the idea of the electronic classroom just before their demise? I mean, heaven forbid that IT hardware and software companies want a stake in the most stable part of local government funding at the moment?

    Or am I too skeptical for my own good?

  • Comment number 84.

    I wish the powers that be would wake up! There will be a time when we have to rely on basics like walking, hunting to eat etc. The basic skills must be preserved otherwise we don't stand a chance of being able to react in times of need and rebuild society. I short exams should/must be handwritten and marks deducted for bad grammer and spelling

  • Comment number 85.

    There are clearly contributors here who are not digitally native. Actually, I'm not myself, - but I have made the effort to learn a bit about IT and to use it as effectively as possible for someone my age.

    Firstly, reading. What exactly do you imagine kids are doing when they're reading a Wiki article? Or when they're using a Kindle etc?

    Secondly, why would computer use necessarily preclude teaching kids to write? The programme of choice for those schools who provide a high level of IT support for pupils - esp those who provide inviduals with a laptop/tablet/UMPC - is Microsoft OneNote (comes as standard with some versions of MS Office). Using this programme, pupils can write their notes directly into the computer with a stylus (assuming a touch screen of course) and the programme will convert the handwriting to type.

    Of course kids need to be taught to write in primary school, but I really don't see the problem of going digital once handwriting has been mastered.

  • Comment number 86.

    No, they shouldn't for a number of reasons.
    - When my pen stops working I put a refill in it. I do not have to switch it off & back on again & BIC never ask if I would like to send an error message.
    - My pen never gets "Blue screen of death"
    - At some point these kids will need to atually write something longhand, an exam is a nice test of whether or not they can communicate without qwerty or txts.
    - The noise of 200 people typing in an exam hall would be bloody annoying.
    - We already had a case where 13 kids didn't get into uni because of "Failures in the electronic marking system" Do we really want to replace the whole system with something that already doesn't work.
    -What the hell are they supposed to do when someone hacks the English Lit exam & replaces it with comedy pics of people in Wal Mart?
    -The software in my pen is never out of date & I don't have to sell my soul to the twin behemoths of apple or microsoft if I need a new one.
    -The tip ex messes up the screen ;)

    I have no issue with computers but what the hell happened to "If it aint broke don't fix it"?

  • Comment number 87.

    This makes my heart sink.

    I am in my late 20s; I cannot remember a world without computers and I have worked with computers my entire adult life, yet I always carry a pen and pad around with me because computers have never come close to matching the versitility of a quick, scribbled note.

    Yes, kids do need to learn to use computers, but they also need to learn to use a pen.

  • Comment number 88.

    71. At 12:08pm on 25 Feb 2011, Mr Cholmondley-Warner wrote:
    38. At 11:35am on 25 Feb 2011, HaveIGotThatWrong wrote:
    25. At 11:15am on 25 Feb 2011, buttons wrote:

    If at my Uni, you have a disability, you get to use a computer and an extra hour to do the examination, me and my friends would kill for that!!
    --------------------------------------------

    What, kill for a disability ?

    --------------------------------------------
    I know what he means.
    Personally,I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.
    --------------------------------------------

    Lol, you are funny Mr Cholmondley-Warner, at least someone on here has a sense of humour.

  • Comment number 89.

    The idea certainly has merit. The only caveat I'd personally put on it is that I'd expect typing skills to be taught at a very early age, with the old RSA qualifications being required prior to sitting exams. This would ensure a certain standard and speed for all examinees.

  • Comment number 90.

    Pens and paper can't crash. I'd stick with them I believe.

  • Comment number 91.

    OK but probably worth checking whether she has shares in the software suppliers first.

  • Comment number 92.

    When my son started his maths degree, one of the first things he had to learn was LaTeX, a typesetting language (now also supported on Google Documents) so that he could put sophisticated equations in his coursework. If we are moving into a digital world then such standard tools need to be taught at school from the outset in maths and science courses.

  • Comment number 93.

    As with many have your say topics this is just an idea someone has suggested and nothing will come of it, so there's no need to get worked up about it. I would suggest people read a short story by isaac asmiov called 'the feeling of power' which is about a world where everything is computerised and where one man discovers once again how to do arthitmetic without using a machine. It says everything that needs to be said about this idea.

  • Comment number 94.

    I very much resent how "we" have let computers (and mobile phones) take over our lives, although I do not participate in having either at home. I do have to use a computer at work.But when I first went to work in 1972 there were no computers in the office and- isn't it strange-managed to do our jobs very well without them. The idea that people should be encouraged not to use their hands to write fills me with dismay-but then again life is just like that these days-not much happens that doesn't fill me with dismay.
    Next we will be born with "chips" inside us I expect and be robots from day one.

  • Comment number 95.

    73. At 12:10pm on 25 Feb 2011, STIG wrote:
    This would effectively finish the examination system. There is no guarantee that most students would not cheat. It would be easy enough to email answers, copy paste answers via a memory stick. No matter how standalone the examiners will make the computers they will not outwit those who would cheat and it will also throw down the gauntlet to geeks who will make a lot of money out of assisting cheats.
    --------------
    Do you not think that maybe, just maybe, USB ports will be disabled, internet access denied etc etc etc??
    I have an industry exam next week which is computer based. It's just a screen, a mouse and a keyboard with the one application enabled for the purpose of doing the exam. In no way can I cheat, other than the methods I could by handwriting the exam (i.e. bringing in material to the exam room).
    The over-reaction on here is unbelievable.

  • Comment number 96.

    Dost thou not understandeth that knowledge canst be determined only via the spaken word?

    Thou givest me a pen and call it progress!! Mongrels!!

  • Comment number 97.

    On the plus side, having computerised exams spares the poor markers the trouble of deciphering awful handwriting, and might lead to fairer and more consistent marking of exams. Collecting and distributing exam papers, keeping them away from prying eyes, and then sending everything away for external marking are hassles that could also be eliminated. Decent IT defences should stop access to the 'net, spell checkers, or outside help.

    On the minus side, it's a big initial outlay, you would have to space the tables further apart to stop copying, and the ability to write is closely linked to fine motor skills and these could be lost in a wholesale transition to computers.

    You have to wonder what social anthropologists and historians might make of the human race in a few hundred years time! Humans would appear to them to have regressed!! It would look like we lost the ability to read and write (books would be electronic, and there would be fewer written records of anything!). In the same way we also stopped making decent, beautiful buildings or infrastructure. The churches, cathedrals, and even sewerage systems stopped being ornate and long-lasting and gave way to rubbish temporary things made of cheap concrete and plastic. It might seem like 'progress' to us now, but is it, really?

  • Comment number 98.

    When I were a lad we had to chisel our homework on stone slabs. It never did me one bit of harm. No wonder the youth of today is so feckless!

  • Comment number 99.

    I did engineering at university as a mature student completing my degree in 1997. None of the computer programs I used then were able to demonstrate your "working out" because the "thinking part" was done by the program. We first had to work out the answer we would expect to see by first principles so that we knew whether the answer was right or wrong. Otherwise, you'd be learning data entry rather than engineering principles. The other thing, when I did my exams, the younger kids had the advantage in that they could write much faster than I, however, I compensated by reading the question properly, thinking about it and getting it right first time rather than crossing out large chunks of my answers because I'd followed the wrong train of thought.

  • Comment number 100.

    Further to my previous comment (42) I would just like post an example of what’s happening in today’s workplace.

    Just before last Christmas we had a position come up and a young lad come in for an interview, nicely dressed, nicely typed up CV etc and we asked him to fill in the general application form for the company (which everyone fills in at an interview).

    This form is in multiple choice questions and at the end there is a separate sheet asking why they would like to work for the company and what think they could bring to the company.

    When the form came back I could not understand a word of it, a younger colleague looked and informed me that the applicant had written in “mobile phone text speak” M8(mate), since then we have had 2 more letters from school leavers requesting interviews, again one was text speak and the other one went in the bin because it was illegible, needless to say none of these people were even considered.

    As I stated before there is nothing wrong with using computers but children really need to learn how to read and write using the tried and tested methods (pen and paper)and not rely solely on a computer to get them through the rest of their life because it will not.

 

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