Trend in Ed: Cheating Scandal Rocks Japan

| March 1, 2011

As we at Edlab focus on thinking up new and innovative ways to revolutionize the role of technology in education, unscrupulous persons are developing creative methods for perverting and misusing educational technology.  The New York Times reports today that Japan has been rocked by a cheating scandal.  During entrance exams for several prestigious universities, an unknown number of students posted questions (and received answers) on a “chiebukuro” question-and-answer website, most likely by using cell phones during a bathroom break.

Due to Japan’s rigorously meritocratic and testing-dependant educational system, this revelation has struck a nerve.  Japanese police asked Yahoo Japan Corp., the manager of the chiebukuro website, to cooperate with their investigation and assist in tracking down the culprit(s).  Although cheating itself is not against the law in Japan, the police plan to charge whoever is responsible with “obstructing college business.”

With so much riding on the results of these exams, it’s not surprising that some students will bend the law to get that extra edge.  Thousands have been caught engaging in similar activities in countries across the globe, and South Korea has already banned cell-phones during exams, a measure the Japanese are now considering.  In my day, cheating was normally confined to cheat-sheets concealed on the person or in the calculator, but in this brave new world of ubiquitous Internet access and crowd-sourced education, the possibilities are endless.