As a current graduate student of the University of Louisville, and the owner of a fairly sweet cell phone (Motorola E815), this particular News.com story quickly caught my eye: "Mobile-phone cheating in exams on the rise."
According to the U.K.'s Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) Chief Executive Ken Boston, "Over recent years we have seen a noticeable rise in the number of mobile-phone related incidents in examination halls across the country." In fact, "the number of students penalized for cheating in school exams and coursework in England rose by over a quarter last summer... Candidates caught with mobile phones in exam halls accounted for around 25 percent of the offenses." As a result, "students can be marked down or even failed for just having a mobile phone with them during exams, whether they use them to cheat or not."
It's fairly understandable why cell phones should be banned from classrooms, period - and this is coming from a single parent who needs to be accessible 24/7 by child care providers in case of an emergency. I need and love my cell phone, but I can't deny that it can be disruptive and distracting. This past semester, my cell phone was a major source of contention with one of my professors. There were several times when he gave me the death stare from across the room, and I would have given anything to Genie-blink myself far, far away.
Today, cell phones can do just about anything, including give you all the answers you need for exams. When I took my Praxis exams, the facilitator immediately gathered everyone's cell phones and then handed them back after all of the answer sheets were collected. While it might be difficult for some people and life circumstances, I think a "Leave your cell at the door" policy should be implemented in all schools. That would decrease this cheating trend and require students to rely more on their brains.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.