British universities are reportedly considering a blanket ban on watches in exam halls due to the release of the Apple Watch.
The release of the Apple Watch in April is expected to result in widespread interest in smart watches, and exam invigilators are worried that they could be used to surreptitiously access the internet or look up exam-related information, writes Andrew Griffin of The Independent.
Existing problem for the Apple Watch
Following its summer exam session last year, the University of London reported that there had been two instances of smart watch use during exams. The Apple Watch may not be released yet, but there are a number of existing smart watches on the market. A number of available models could be easily mistaken for normal watches, which complicates the issue for exam invigilators.
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The University of London has said that it would consider its response and decide on a strategy before the summer 2015 exam period. Possible responses include a smart watch ban, or a training program which would help invigilators to distinguish between smart watches and traditional dumb watches.
Blanket ban on wrist wear?
Other universities seem to be considering preemptive action on the issue. City University is considering a total ban on watches of any kind, according to university newspaper The Square.
“Last year, colleagues and invigilators raised the issue of how we would identify a smartwatch in an examination setting. In large exam venues, with over 100 students, it simply wouldn’t be practical to ask invigilators to check each watch,” said a spokesperson.
Officials have decided that checking each and every watch as students enter the exam hall would be a time-consuming and unnecessary process, and have instead decided that students will be obliged to place their watches in plastic bags, just as they already do with mobile phones.
A complete ban on watches in the exam hall may be the only solution to what is sure to be a growing problem given the impending release of the Apple Watch. Universities appear to be ahead of the curve in planning ahead on the issue, which may allow them to avoid a rash of bad publicity related to smart watches being used to cheat exams.