I spoke to an academic at a US university (who wishes to remain anonymous) who regularly sets open-book, open-laptop exams for his maths students. “I do this so that the students can draw from all of their resources instead of just their memory,” he explained. “There is something to be said for mentally preparing oneself to answer questions on the fly and think on one’s feet, but with the way technology is evolving today, being able to look things up quickly and competently is a skill that should be encouraged.”
Surprisingly enough, these exams don’t result in all students getting full marks; far from it. The sad fact is that many students “choose to prepare very little or not at all, thinking that they will be able to look up all the answers without any trouble. Since they are not adept at using the internet or their books or notes to look things up quickly, I don’t know why they assume they will be able to do this under a time constraint.”
What we really need to be worrying about is a generation of students who can’t answer maths questions even if they have access to the entire internet.