Why Bored of Studies PWNs the BOS

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There is no shift of control of information when you bolt technology onto what you already do. This is the strategy of public education, when you look behind the facade and grand statements. This is the approach known as “spray and pray”. Research shows there is little added value from automation, and incremental improvement. (“In the Age of the Smart Machine : The Future of Work and Power” by Shoshana Zuboff). We can’t simply put a class in a Ning and call it a community; or exchange paper for a blog. In fact the current National Curriculum approach is to defer all measures of attainment to other professional bodies, just to make sure it stands a safe distance away from potential criticism (standard mode of political-operation).  Of course these bodies are politically driven and differ regionally, and Western Australia is using self-evaluation – which NSW DET’s Digital Revoltion portal (the have so many) references – via ‘evaluation’.

The good news is that students are 21st Century learners; and 97% are engaged via social gaming and friend based networks, so have access to pretty much all the answers they need to PWN the current assessment system – and they did it with no help at all.

7 million hits can’t be wrong

twitter_pushbackThe illustration at the top of the screen is the Bored of Studies Wiki; go check it out – it tells students how to pass the HSC and beyond; and to me screams why the current methods of teaching are so easily ‘gamed’ by students. The website was created in 2002 by four former HSC students who had completed their HSC in the previous year: Mark Czajkowski, James King, Tim Cheng and Ian Keong. Of course the real Authority – called the Board of Studies has warned teachers against being anywhere near the thing! So is it cheating or just 21st Century Learning.

Yet, with over 250,000 subscribers and 7 million hits a month (claimed) – its safe to say that students have pwned the system. It positively road-maps how to be a strategic learner – and perhaps is our most outstanding educational achievement, along with Rate My Teacher – which now has one click links to Twitter, Facebook and Stumble Upon.

It matters nothing if we agree with these sites being there; only that they are. These are the social networks kids use – that gives them Authority. Its socially constructed knowledge; do we need to replicate it in class or inside what Clay Burrell called schooliness.

Chris Lehmann wroteBuild consensus – If only a few people are on-board with the idea, it won’t work. But consensus doesn’t mean taking something from everyone and sticking it onto the original idea until what you have is the worst of committee-based decisions. It means listening for the truths in what other people are telling you and being willing to make substantive change when it makes sense.”

So there’s the positive – students are doing what Chris suggests, long live Bored of Studies. I wonder if Mark, James, Tim and Ian are consulting?


5 thoughts on “Why Bored of Studies PWNs the BOS

  1. I think the Bored of Studies Website is awesome. Why is a site that was set up by students for students cheating?

    This is the true essence of online communications. A community was established to assist with a specific task – passing the HSC! This is where our focus should be with DER – introducing the kids to use of technology for these purposes and how they can be critical users of such communities.

    • I have had students in the past improperly use sites such as this for deliberate cheating in the classroom. Even though the site says “do not plagiarize”, with the ease of ready made materials that are subject specific – even with prompts that are provided – students do.

      I firmly agree with 21st century learning. I may have overstepped on this one site – but after having a student turned in to me by another – I did in the past subscribe to a site such as this. The subscriptions allowed you to purchase guaranteed A/B level work, with a notation to be sure to change a few words so that it was not plagiarized.

      In my albeit quick review of the site (particularly because I do not have an AU code to login), I saw many posted pieces of work in the resource page…and little discussion or ability for collaboration on the work. THAT to me is 21st century learning- the building of knowledge collaboratively, and not simply the ability to easily copy another’s work or use their posted test questions.

      However, the resources section still has the feel to me of copying my neighbor’s A homework.


      • Thanks Jen – This is a massive issue; as I figured you were not in Australia; so this site would appear as it did – yet we are in a global world with our kids online; and it really does illustrate the problem as you say. On one hand – to one group it is cheating; but to another it’s learning and the best strategy to win – in a system where winning is set up to be the most important thing. We are bombarded with information; and just as Bored of Studies is foreign to you; the US ones are to me – but I wonder how well our students can pick the differences in content. Your comments are valid; and I really thank you for helping raise the issue; if all it takes to win is to copy the right work and hand in to teachers who barely use email, then it makes assessment a mockery. The policy of ‘banning’ these sites from publc education spaces does not solve the problem! Thanks!

      • As you say – the power of these sites, the discussion and wiki section on the one illustrated, is evident. When construction of knowledge is paramount, collaboration wins hands down. However, as you also mentioned, too many teachers don’t know enough about technology to even check email without help, and so students are also savvy enough to realize that as well. I was just given a site today – freeessays.com (or something similar) where the same ability to download work is given – without the other great resources on the bos wiki…cheating is easy, and too many students will look the other way and take the easy grade when passing or excelling are the issue. Studies have shown that most students will cheat for the grade, and see no issue with that. (http://www.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/7/2/2/2/pages272227/p272227-1.php)

        So…it is a global problem, and a growing one. (Yesterday someone I follow on twitter had his blog copied with minor word changes in less than 5 minutes.) Perhaps one of the things we need to continue to discuss and stress is how to create honesty, morality?, in students pertaining especially to these issues, before our 21st century learning that is so imperative is tarred irreparably with the cheaters brush.

      • I’ve found that when you but a few hundred students in one online space; and you demonstrate how easy it is to copy and paste what they copy and paste (head spin) – a large amount get the message; and a for a good deal more, it halves their ability to game the system. Singularity is a big issue. Thanks for the link. I did a session with students; where we took the article; found several ‘similar’ ones and then looked for improvements we could make. I read somewhere (sure it’s out in Googleville) that to steal from one is plagarism, to steal from many is research – I think maybe the mass access we now have just makes it easier in every respect.

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