In my Sunday newspaper, there was an advertisement for a Hyundai MC1010 Keychain Camera.
It’s described as a “mini-camcorder disguised as a car key.” There are more details in the shop’s website, though I suspect that in the website blurb, something has been lost in translation.
Given my interest in academic honesty (and dishonesty), my first thought was, could this be useful for cheating, perhaps in an exam situation? Possibly – though without ability to communicate with anyone or anything else, its uses will be limited. One might be able to take photographs of the question paper or one’s own answers, to transmit once one is outside the exam room, and that might help anyone taking the same exam but later in real time. But it’s not as useful as a modern cell phone, with camera, with instant communication possibilities. That’s one of the reasons we ask students not to bring cell phones and other communication and storage devices into the examination room, or to leave them at the front.
This is a storage device. And cleverly disguised.
In the Amazon store, the English is better, and there are even more suggestions to get the thought-processes going:
Have you ever wished you’d caught a magic moment on film but just didn’t have your camcorder to hand? Well cleverly disguised as a key fob, the MC1010 Shorty Snap mini video camera from Hyundai will ensure you’re always prepared for the unexpected and within seconds start filming hilarious or touching scenes you’ll want to keep.
Or to post on FaceBook or sell to a tabloid newspaper, especially if royalty or celebrity is in the picture. Potentially nasty. At least, if someone is holding a cell phone, you might suspect a candid camera. A car key, though?
Back to the exam room. Last year, students taking public examinations in Turkey were required to leave their wristwatches outside the exam room. This practice could spread, perhaps it already has, as wristwatches are produced with bluetooth and 3G connectivity. Wristwatch calculators are so old-hat! How long before examinations must be taken by students stripped of jewellery, required to wear shorts and t-shirts, spectacles X-rayed, water and other beverages dispensed by proctors and invigilators in see-through plastic tumblers, no gum, all stationery and instruments including pens and pencils, rulers and erasers, provided in the exam room, not brought in buy the students.
MOST students do not cheat. As far as we know, most students do not cheat. After reading Dan Ariely’s The (honest) truth about dishonesty recently, I might think that most students do not cheat unless they see – or think they see – other students cheating, but if the invigilators are vigilant, then the opportunities – and the perception with it – should be much reduced. I would certainly like to think that most students do not cheat, in which case, such extreme measures to reduce opportunities for such a small minority, a just-in-case measure, do seem heavy-handed. Maybe these measures are counter-productive, suggesting to students that “they” suspect you, suspect you’re going to cheat, suspect you’re a cheater (who hasn’t been caught?).
If only we could value and celebrate honest endeavour. On the day that it is announced that some 70 Harvard students have been suspended for cheating, that might sound like pious, hopeless wishful-thinking. We can’t turn back the tide.
I believe we can. I believe we must. One step might be to instil a new sense of fairness, we want all students to perform on a level playing-field, no unfair advantages for anyone. It’s only one measure, much more is needed, I know, if we are to inculcate feelings of personal honour and integrity and turn it all around.
We have to start somewhere. That is key.