Thanks to Smartwatches, Major Universities Are Banning All Watches From Exams

Illustration for article titled Thanks to Smartwatches, Major Universities Are Banning All Watches From Exams

Back in my day, schools used to recommend bringing a watch into tests so you’d keep track of the time. But now, the rise of smartwatches could lead to a flat-out ban of all timepieces for test-takers, if the latest rule at a major university in Japan is any indication.


Kyoto University, one of Japan’s most prestigious institutions, has said that it plans to ban students from bringing watches into entrance exams, the Wall Street Journal reports. As smartwatches look less and less like futuristic mini computers strapped to our arms, like something out of Inspector Gadget, it’s theoretically easier for people to sneak them in as net-connected cheating devices.

The watch ban seems weird or lightly dystopian, but WSJ points out that Kyoto University isn’t alone. Effective this summer, “due to advances in watch technologies,” Australia’s University of New South Wales has also banned all watches from exams, be they on your wrist or on your desk.

Hopefully all test sites have functioning clocks on the walls.

[Wall Street Journal]

Image: Shutterstock



I’m involved in education (making e-learning products), and it’s starting to bug me how little we’ve changed the way we assess students (or what we think is educationally worthwhile) despite the fact that many people will literally almost always have access to the Internet at home/work/most other places.

Some people will probably still memorize some stuff; I know a lot of recipes by heart even though I could look them up on my phone, but that’s just a matter of convenience as much as anything else.

If a student (especially at university level, where in theory, they’re learning how to link concepts, and not just elementary data) can get a correct answer for an exam with one Google search, then it’s a really crappy exam. A calculator, and lots of Googling, wouldn’t have made a difference to any of the math classes I took in university (I mean, I guess I could have looked up proofs and used that as a starting point, but there’s no way I could have completed an exam quickly enough if I needed to do that).

In social sciences, sure, you could look up dates or people’s names or whatever else, but the exams I had also focused on demonstrating understanding by linking things, not regurgitating facts.

Just because it’s easier to make exams that avoid evaluating thinking doesn’t mean that it’s ok. (end rant).