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Mobile phone scanners to expose cheaters at University of Copenhagen

Frequency scanners to stop students using mobile phones to cheat at exams. New initiative from Faculty of Health Sciences at University of Copenhagen

Last October, students at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health Sciences (SUND) received an email:

“Dear students. The exam rooms at Peter Bangs Vej 36 have just implemented the use of frequency scanners. This means that it is now possible to locate mobile, WiFi, bluetooth, radio activity etc. in the exam rooms.”

“For this reason, you are advised to turn off and hand in any external communication device before the start of the exam, in order to avoid being accused of cheating. We will conduct random tests.”

New tricks

The new frequency scanners have been in use this January and are designed to ensure that students can’t google their way to top marks. In practice, students won’t be disturbed by the scanners. They are pocket-sized and can be calibrated to scan an entire room.

Director of Studies at SUND, Bitta Nielsen, explains the rationale behind it:

“Before mobile phones we had to check for small bits of paper hidden in the toilets. Now we get a chance to check whether mobiles are used to illegally find answers,” says Bitta Nielsen, Director of Studies at SUND.

Level playing field

She adds that SUND is using the current exams to test drive the new scanners:

“Do the scanners work? Are they are disruptive for the students? Is it a useful tool to ensure exams are taking place on equal terms for everyone? We need to have concrete, practical, experience instead of theoretical assumptions, and when the time comes to evaluate this, we’ll of course include the students,” Bitta Nielsen says, adding that the scanners are there for, and not against, the students.

“This isn’t to treat students as suspicious. Quite the opposite – I think we remove any element of suspicion when we protect those students that wouldn’t dream of cheating.”

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