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Exams on Laptops


Charles Fowler

on 25 April 2012

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Transcript of Exams on Laptops

Exams and

My students use laptops all year,
it makes no sense to switch
back to hand-written
work for the exam.
Same exam room
sight lines
no outside materials
no internet access
Can't be sure:
no access to own hd
no access to internet
Not possible
Open book
new types of questions
refer students to sources, media
more authentic, like "real world"
How would we go about
letting them use their
laptops in the exam?
"…there are no questions asking for definitions as they could simply look these up. Rather, they are all application questions where the student has to use knowledge to create meaningful, extended responses."
"As the year went on, students began to change their approach to learning - less concern for minutae, more concern for meaning."
In the room
Focussed, on task
Wrote more, edited more
Richer, more thoughtful
Positive feedback
Old Style
1) Define and state the significance of key terms

2) Short Answer - paragraph, largely knowledge

3) Essay - Involved an array of skills and knowledge
New Style
1) Counterfactual

2) Primary source analysis

3) Essay
Would Canada’s development have been different if Pearson hadn’t represented us at the UN?

How might Quebec’s experience of the 1960s been different had Duplessis died ten years earlier?

How might the history of Europe been different had the fascists lost the Spanish Civil War?

If you could go back to 1939 and stop Einstein from writing his letter to FDR, would you? What would the result be?
Even if the Nazi legions stood triumphant on the Black Sea, or indeed upon the Caspian, even if Hitler was at the gates of India, it would profit him nothing if at the same time the entire economic and scientific apparatus of German war power lay shattered and pulverized at home. —House of Commons, 20 August 1940

We ask no favours of the enemy. We seek from them no compunction. On the contrary, if tonight the people of London were asked to cast their vote whether a convention should be entered into to stop the bombing of all cities... the people of London with one voice would say to Hitler: “You have committed every crime under the sun. Where you have been the least resisted there you have been the most brutal.... We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst—and we will do our best. Perhaps it may be our turn soon; perhaps it may be our turn now.” —London County Hall, 14 July 1941

To the blood-curdling threats which German propaganda has been making in order to keep up the spirit of their people and of their satellites, there have been added the most absurd claims about the results of the first use of the secret weapon.... Considering the modest weight and small penetration-power of these bombs, the damage they have by blast effect has been extensive. It cannot at all be compared with the terrific destruction by fire and high explosives with which we have been assaulting Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, and scores of other German cities and other war-manufacturing points in Germany. —House of Commons, 7 June 1944
Winston Churchill, Addresses
What do these sources indicate about warfare in this age? As sources, what are their strengths and limitations?
Primary Source Analysis
“Newfoundland’s reluctance to enter confederation shows Canada is more notion than nation.” Agree or disagree.

If any nation is the sum of the battle of competing interests, which have won out in Canada? How can we tell?

Should we understand the history of the West as primarily one of conflict, or primarily one of cooperation?

Was this age one of scientific perversion, as Churchill argued, or scientific salvation, as Truman might have said?
Less, "Will this be on the test?"

More, "Sir, this would make a great counterfactual question on the test."
can they cite?
will they be distracted?
One hour after assessment:
"Sir, have you read my essay yet?"
Charles Fowler & John Lambersky
Royal St. George's College
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Full transcript