Subtle: Iraq Flips The Internet Switch For 3 Hours To Combat Cheating Students And Corrupted Teachers

from the well-okay-then dept

We’ve talked about cheating in academia in the past, usually revolving around whether or not what used to be called cheating might be better thought of as collaboration. Beyond that, we’ve also talked about some of the strategies used to combat the modernity of “cheating”, which has included the monitoring of students online activities to make sure they weren’t engaged in cheating behavior.

Well, the nation of Iraq doesn’t have time for all of this monitoring and sleuthing. When its students have their standardized tests, they simply shut the damned internet off completely.

For a few hours each morning, the Iraqi government keeps cutting off internet access—to keep students from cheating on their end-of-year exams. As reported by DYN research, which tracks internet blackouts around the world, the country’s access went almost entirely dead between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. in the morning on Saturday, Sunday and again on Monday.

And this isn’t the first time the Iraqi government has gone about things in this way. Last year, they pulled the same lever to shut down internet access to the country, with the same explanation that it was combatting a scourge of question and answer sharing occuring online. What’s interesting about this is that the real problem appears to be the teachers, not the students. Teachers in Iraq are apparently regularly bribed by students to share the questions and answers to tests and that those leaks are then spread across the internet for other Iraqi students to see.

“What happens usually is that some teachers would be giving the exams questions to students who pay money, then [those] students would sell online questions all over country,” one Iraqi, who requested his name not be used in a story, told Vocativ. “Between 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. [is when teachers finalize questions] so this is the time when teachers [who have been paid off would] give questions to students by Facebook or Viber or Whatsapp and so on.”

Now, perhaps this move is effective in its aims. I don’t know, since students looking to cheat haven’t exactly always required the internet to do so. Still, even if it were, there must be another more subtle yet effective way to combat this cheating scourge. Perhaps one that doesn’t interrupt internet access for, oh I don’t know, everyone else in the entire country. Because the effects of this blackout aren’t exactly limited to students.

Human rights groups were outraged at the outage. “We see this, especially in such a destabilized country as Iraq, as really terrible. It’s a lot of people under a media and communications blackout,” Deji Olukotun, Senior Global Advocacy Manager at the internet freedom nonprofit, told Vocativ.

Come on guys, figure this out.

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Comments on “Subtle: Iraq Flips The Internet Switch For 3 Hours To Combat Cheating Students And Corrupted Teachers”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

This is what happens when you apply the **AA thinking in the real world.

We think it could be used for bad things so lets keep turning parts off punishing everyone rather than look at the actual source of the problem.

Here teachers are being paid off, perhaps the answer would be to increase their pay to make them less likely to take bribes. Perhaps run stings and fire those caught doing it. Increased penalties for students & parents who try to bribe. All of these seem to target the actual problem, rather than make everyone else suffer ‘for the greater good’.

There will always be students who want to cheat, there will always be a teacher who takes a bribe, all you can do is make it less palatable to engage in the behavior. Offering better tutoring, extra classes, making it more accessible to get the knowledge… has to be better than just throwing up ones hands, assigning the blame to something external, and cutting off the entire country.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You are mistaken that this is **AA thinking.

This is natural human behavior. I am sure you have seen it before… one person abuses a privilege and everyone has it taken away?

This is a natural result of bad parenting where one kid pisses the adult off and the other kids have to suffer. This logical bullshit is pervasive in humanity and is one of the root causes of the vast majority of human suffering.

Arthur Moore (profile) says:

Re: A Common Sense Solid Solution.

Fun fact, blocking wifi can and will result in large fines and/or a jail sentence in the US. Actually, any radio jammer will. Even federal prison’s aren’t immune to this.

Schools, movie theaters, prisons, etc… can always turn the rooms or buildings into a large Faraday cage, but in a shocking surprise teachers, guards, etc… like/need having cell phones or radios.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: A Common Sense Solid Solution.

There is no law against a school doing this. Any school can certainly turn their own internet connection on or off as they wish, or just disable WiFi if they prefer.

What they couldn’t do, of course, is to jam radio signals, so cell phone connectivity will remain. That’s not a stupid law, that’s a very good law.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: A Common Sense Solid Solution.

This is a solution that can work. There is no reason, besides a stupid law, that prevents a school from doing this in a classroom, gym or a whole school. Block WiFi and flip a switch to cut of hard-wired internet.

That won’t work because it ias the teachers (who would presumably have to implement it) who are responsible for the cheating!

PaulT (profile) says:

So, students are blocked from one method of cheating, while ensuring that companies that they might work for when they graduate have their communications disrupted during their international partners’ trading hours? Brilliant! I’m not sure what levels of international trade Iraq has at the moment, but I am sure that stopping the adults from working while the kids might be up to no good isn’t going to lead to new opportunities for either group.

Fortunately, this is the only way students could cheat. That never existed before the internet, and there’s certainly no way anyone could obtain the questions after the times they were finalised above or find an alternative way to cheat. /s

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