Norway Trials Laptops For School Exams

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In Nord-Trondelag county in Norway, all students are given a laptop for school work when they turn 16. Now the government is testing the use of those laptops for exams.

Sounds like an invitation to cheating? Wrong. The computers have some specially-designed software to prevent that eventuality.

The laptops have all the usual software for word processing and other student needs, with specific software for certain subjects the students might take. The idea behind this trial is to have the pupils using machines they know for the exams.

Bjorg Helland, project manager for digital literacy at Nord-Trondelag county council, told the BBC the computers are "used both during their final exams before going to college or university but also during tests when the teacher wants to have a test with the class."

However, preventing the students from cheating is vital, which is why the software is so important. The exams are downloaded from a special sire onto the machines, or the questions are on paper.

"That’s also why we have to monitor the laptops during the exams, because they are not supposed to have internet access and not supposed to communicate with other students," Helland explained.

"The program works as a keylogger and takes screenshots and we can very easily get a graphic of what the students have used or have done."

Anything more than spellcheckers is disallowed, and those caught trying to cheat fail the exam. Terje Ronning, a spokesman for computer firm XO Expect More, which has worked with Nord-Trondelag on the system, said there’s no chance for hackers to disable the anti-cheating system:

"Students do not have access to this tool so they cannot sit down and configure it. To look at it they would have to actually do it during exam time and waste their time."

Now, after this trial involving some 6,000 students, the government is asking other schools if they want to move to the same system, and hopes to have a totally computer-based exam system in time.

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