A number of South African universities have moved to ban students from wearing smartwatches in examination rooms, as the technological advances made to these devices mean they are now becoming more effective as cheating aides.
There is even specialised cheating software available for this very purpose.
The banning of smartwatches seems to be a global trend, as there are several international universities such as the University of New South Wales in Australia, who have banned smartwatches from tertiary examination rooms. Several American high schools have also banned students from wearing smartwatches during their SAT exams. And now Cape Town is following suit – the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Stellenbosch University have also banned smartwatches in exam rooms.
UCT’s exam policy clearly states that “no student in (an exam) venue shall have on his or her person or desk, any device capable of storage, retrieval, transmission, or reception of data including (but not limited to) watches”.
Smartwatches have essentially become portable computers – they can be used to transmit, record and receive audio, photographic and video content. The popular app called Spicker, which is the German word for crib, allows smartwatch wearers to easily add notes to their Apple smartwatch. Notes may be marked with different colours for easier access.
The app even allows students to quickly swipe left to a clock screen when an invigilator approaches, and also allows you to dim the screen to make text fainter and thus harder for others to read.
Rhodes University conducted a study as far back as 2014 that indicated that smartwatch wearers found the devices easier to access in situations where it was awkward to access a smartphone. The results of the study indicated that smartwatches were much easier to use when retrieving small amounts of information – such as cheat notes.