Preview - Focus Questions - Case Study - Discussion - Links - References
Cell Phones: A Tool for Cheating
Phones have become one of the fastest growing communication
technologies (Campbell, 2006). Today, the average cell
phone has the capacity of a mid-1990s PC (Prensky, 2004).
Cell phones are useful for many different reasons including
communication, organization, and internet access. These
tools may be used to connect students, parents, and
instructors (Campbell, 2006). “They are also particularly
useful computers that fit in your pocket, are always with
you, and are nearly always on” (Prensky, 2004, p.1). Often
seen in high schools, cell phones are now making their way
into elementary and middle schools with an estimated 200,000
children between ages 5 and 9 owning a cell phone (Cell
Phones and PDA’S Hit K-6, 2005).
phones are becoming more and more sophisticated,
incorporating features students can use for work and play.
According to Walker (2002), we may soon see students using
their cell phones to search the web during an exam. “Having
a browser in the cell phone puts a dictionary, thesaurus,
and encyclopedia into the hands of every student” (Prensky,
2004, p.4). Students, now having access to search engines,
can use their cell phone as a research tool.
Although once used for communication and pleasure, students
are now using cell phones to cheat through using features
such as the camera. Camera phone sales have grown from
4,000 in 2002 to 21.4 million in 2004 (Walker, 2004).
Today, “…students have stopped hiding crib sheets and
whispering to their neighbors – and started swapping test
answers by cellphone, camera phone and PDA” (Etter, 2004, p.
17). Students are using the camera feature on their phones
as a means of copying another student’s test paper or taking
pictures of their notes to use during a test. Not long ago,
cell phones were just an annoyance if they rang during
class. “Today, it’s a matter of keeping students from
taking pictures” (Gerard, 2006, p. 45). Text messaging is
also used as a form of cheating during exams. Students have
become sophisticated in their ability to send text
messages. For example, many students are skilled enough to
utilize text messaging with the phone hidden in a pocket.
Some have sent exam answers to another student using this
method. However, cell phones can be used for instruction.
Cell phones now have many features that are similar to a
computer. Prensky (2004) recommends that teachers stop
fighting with students about cell phones, but rather use
them for “their educational advantage” (p. 2).
years, cell phones have become increasingly popular. Cell
phones are now equipped with text messaging, internet,
camera features, etc. They are now making their way into
the classroom. Because of the many benefits that cell
phones offer, teachers could easily use them as a teaching
tool. However, students are using them to cheat. Students
can easily use text messaging to send and receive test
answers. They are using the internet feature to locate exam
information on the web. With the high rise in cell phone
sales, more students now have access to this powerful
study the following case, keep these questions in mind: (1)
Should cell phones be allowed in school? (2) What are the
consequences of students having cell phones in school? (3)
Is there an educational impact in using cell phones in the
A New Trend
Laura was a new 10th grade student at Millport
High School. Laura quickly became friends with her next
door neighbor and classmate, Jessica. They lived in the
same neighborhood and had all of the same classes. Because
they looked similar, they shared everything; they even had
the same type of cell phone. In the afternoons, they would
play, study, and work on their homework together. As their
friendship grew, their studying decreased and they began to
talk during class.
their incessant talking, they had to be separated in English
class. This was a perfect classroom situation until one day
they took a test. When the tests were graded, the teacher
noticed a similarity between Laura and Jessica’s answers.
On all the correct answers they had the exact same
explanation, and they missed all of the same questions. The
teacher confronted Laura and Jessica about this phenomenon.
They claimed that there was no way for them to cheat because
they were sitting on opposite sides of the room.
teacher believed them but decided to carefully monitor the
class during each exam. For the first exam, she did not
notice anything out of the ordinary however, Laura and
Jessica’s tests were exactly the same. On the next test,
the teacher kept her eyes on Laura and Jessica. She noticed
that both girls kept one hand on the desk and one hand in
their lap. Walking quietly, she came up to Laura and
discovered that she was using her cell phone. Jessica was
using her cell phone as well. She immediately confiscated
both cell phones and gave both girls a zero on the exam.
teacher began to further investigate the use of the cell
phones. She discovered that Laura and Jessica were sending
the test answers through text messaging. This practice of
sending answers through text messaging has become very
common among teenagers. No sounds can be heard and
teenagers can type without looking at the phone. The next
day Laura also admitted to taking a picture of some of her
test answers and sending it to Jessica
Questions for Discussion
were the teacher, how would you handle this situation?
teacher, would you ban all cell phones in your
should happen to Laura and Jessica?
cell phones be prohibited in schools? If so, how do you
make parents feel that their kids are safe at school?
And how can a policy be enforced?
Using Cell Phones for High Tech Cheating -
school craze: Wireless Cheating
S (2006).Perceptions of mobile phones in college classrooms:
ringing, cheating, and classroom policies.
Communication Education. 55(3), 280-294.
(2005).Cell phones and pda's hit k-6. Education Digest.
Etter, L (2004, September 17).
Technology (a special report); putting tech to the test:
as students turn to high-tech gadgets to cheat,
schools consider turning to
gadgets to stop them. The Wall Street Journal, R17.
(2006).Updating policy on latest risks for students with
cell phones in the
Education Digest. 72(4), 43-45.
Prensky, M (2004). What can
you learn from a cell phone? almost anything!.
of Online Education, Retrieved February 17, 2007 from
(2004, September 10). High-tech cribbing: camera phones
facilitate cheating. The Wall Street