Never underestimate the creative genius of the desperate student.
That iPod and Blackberry are being used for more than listening to tunes or texting with friends. Want to know how? Just check out the 2,150 video tutorials about cheating on YouTube.
And be sure to take a close at the nutrition information on that bottle of Coke; you might just find that it provides an adequate daily dose of a-squared plus b-squared equals c-squared. And the rubber band that students keep fiddling with? If you look carefully, it might not be a lucky charm.
From tried-and-true methods such as writing answers on your hand or finding the answer key, ala "Animal House," to uploading content to an iPod or using earpieces to get answers, as in "Old School," cheating is weaving traditional methods with new-fangled ingenuity.
"I've only heard about it kind of peripherally," says Randy Weseman, superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools. "They can do so much with just a thumb on a little devise."
Yes, they can.
Some of the innovative tactics shown on YouTube include uploading notes to an iPod; using Photoshop to insert test answers on a soda label and even sticking notes in the pleats of a skirt.
Students across the country are finding new ways to literally skirt the system.
And chances are, administrators in Lawrence schools don't even know about it.
"It hasn't been a big topic, at least in the conversation I have had," Lawrence High School principal Steve Nilhas said.
Nilhas says that school policy prohibits students from using cell phones in classrooms and hallways. LS educators deal mostly with plagiarism, Nilhas says. The high-tech revolution that uses handheld devices as cheating facilitators is, perhaps, under the radar.
Take texting, for example.
Lawrence schools have a policy prohibiting cell phones in class. But that doesn't mean students don't try to use them, Free State High School senior Kenny Myers said.
"During tests, I've seen people texting each other," he says. "Everyone has their phone on anyway. Everyone texts during high school, so there's not really a way to limit it. You can be pretty sneaky about it."
And with the new Internet-capable cell phones, the world is at their fingertips.
"I'm sure kids with iPhones could possibly use that as well," Myers says. "There's a whole bunch of possibilities, now that I think about it."
But students might have trouble getting away with cheating under the watchful eyes of teachers such as Kim Grinnell, a history teacher at Free State high.
"Students think that what they're doing isn't obvious, and when you've taught for any length of time, it's pretty apparent that it's happening," she says. That means teachers can swoop in when necessary.
Plus, when students are looking at their laps or rewinding iPods, they give themselves away, she says.
Free State principal Ed West gives the kids credit, though.
"They're multitaskers: the kids are a step ahead of us," he says.
The biggest challenge for teachers and administrators, he says, is good plagiarism.
"Sometimes you get whole papers" that are plagiarized, he lamented.
Still, West and Nilhas haven't seen YouTube-caliber cheating methods taking over their schools.
"I think the approach that we've taken, and appropriately so for some time, our approach has been a no-use-period policy," West says.