An inevitability or a disaster? Our panellists battle it outby Christine Blower, Rachel Wolf / May 21, 2015 / Leave a comment
In April, Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of the OCR exam board, said it is inevitable that schoolchildren will eventually be allowed to use the internet during tests, including GCSEs and A-Levels—but critics say it would reduce standards
Christine Blower—General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers
Mark Dawe’s proposal that pupils should be allowed to use internet search engines during exams is an idea that opens up a serious and worthwhile discussion. It has nothing to do with “dumbing down” or cheating, and everything to do with how we prepare young people for a changing world.
Young people need a range of knowledge, understanding and skills, and the way they adapt those for life far into the 21st century will change, not least as technology changes. Just as we need to engage children with a diverse and creative curriculum, we must also consider how they interact with technology and the ways in which they use it critically. We need to look seriously at proposals for assessments which are fit for purpose, and whether technology can contribute to that usefully, either in the nature of the assessment itself, or in using technology as a tool for undertaking the assessment.
This need not be a polarised choice. The opportunities that Google offers, or the benefits of using a calculator, do not mean that learners need not be taught more “traditional” skills such as using library classifications for research, or mental maths techniques or map-reading.