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Thoughts on virtualizing Ham license exams?


K3MRI
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FCC license virtualization  

43 members have voted

  1. 1. Should FCC licensing be available to be taken online?

    • No
      3
    • Occasionally
      6
    • Yes, but only with the presence of a proctor
      19
    • Yes, even alone at home
      15
  2. 2. If online exams were available, should they be available for all classes?

    • Available to all classes
      27
    • Only to Technician and General
      5
    • Only to Technicians to get them into the hobby
      8
    • No online exams
      3


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ELMER

I'm curious what people think. Should there be an option/method available, either in times like Covid-19, or any other time, during which we should be giving hopeful amateur radio operators the option of testing online? I believe that the Anchorage Amateur Radio Club VEC (https://kl7aa.org/vec/) is doing it.

What are your thoughts?

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I understand it is 2020... and Yes, We are behind in the times...but if they move the exams to online... there goes the VE's positions. They will be search for answers in books, no one there to monitor them. So they wouldn't be learning the material, they will find the easy way to get thru it. How do we know someone else isn't talking the exam for them? I understand in times like this where everyone is on lock down, just study the material, take online practice exams, do the next level. Because if they go with online exams, this hobby is going to go to hell real quick. Yes ... we need new blood , but online exams is NOT the way to go. I'm kinda upset over the F.C.C.'s stand on it, but ARRL seems to be holding it's ground temporarily. But I guess either way things are about to change. Hopefully for the better. 
  Danny
  KN4TWV 
 

 


 

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ELMER
On 4/6/2020 at 8:37 PM, KN4TWV said:

I understand it is 2020... and Yes, We are behind in the times...but if they move the exams to online... there goes the VE's positions. They will be search for answers in books, no one there to monitor them. So they wouldn't be learning the material, they will find the easy way to get thru it. How do we know someone else isn't talking the exam for them? I understand in times like this where everyone is on lock down, just study the material, take online practice exams, do the next level. Because if they go with online exams, this hobby is going to go to hell real quick. Yes ... we need new blood , but online exams is NOT the way to go. I'm kinda upset over the F.C.C.'s stand on it, but ARRL seems to be holding it's ground temporarily. But I guess either way things are about to change. Hopefully for the better. 
  Danny
  KN4TWV 

Hey Danny,

Question for you. IF there were a way to be 100% sure that online testing could work, IF, then would you be for it?

I ask in the context of, for instance, elections going online. I'm a member of the BMWMOA (Motorcycle Owners Association) and we just voted for our Board Members virtually. Granted, it's not exactly a mission critical election... but there are ways, increasingly, to reduce one's ability to cheat. What's more, in our case, our exams are multiple choice based on a pool that most anyone can memorize. Our exams are, I don't believe, a true test of knowledge but rather a test of memory. I'm not saying I'm going with the online option, but I do think that in an era of digital amateur radio, online logging, online spotting, online communities, and even online access to our FCC information, it's worth considering.

Thoughts? 🤓

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I'm just saying ... I keep seeing online that people are talking about open book exams. So Amateur Radio will end up like CB... And look how that turned out. I use to be a cb'er, but that is why I came up to Amateur Radio, to get away from the gutter mouth riff raff. (I understand that even Amateur Radio has that too.) *(But that's my opinion.) I just don't really feel that doing it online is going to get us anywhere. What about the people who are VE's?  Now they will no longer be of use, so it was a waste of their time. They became VE's to help, and now they want to take that away from them. I try to get my friends to join us in Amateur Radio. And I will continue to do that to bring new blood into this great hobby. If there was a certifiable way to make it so they can't do it dirty... (but you know some will try) then I might be able to come around to it. But otherwise I think they need to keep exams at verified locations or make more locations to get more people involved. Only thing that peaked my interest was they got their license in 1 day. That is a great turn around over 4-14 days for some. I personally think that online exams are not the way to go just yet. It needs to be thought out more and more securities need to be put into place before Online Licensing should happen. 


Danny 
KN4TWV

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On 4/7/2020 at 8:30 PM, KN4TWV said:

 I'm just saying ... I keep seeing online that people are talking about open book exams. So Amateur Radio will end up like CB...  

You're afraid of having an open book exam? From my experience of taking many hundreds of exams in my life, open book exams were were the most difficult ones I've ever taken. Both, in class and take home. And I'm all for open book exams. Properly designed they really test knowledge, not memorizing skills. What you think is simple replacement of paper forms with online forms. Properly designed online exam will look completely different than what we have now.

Coming back to current exams. I passed all 3 elements in one session. What do I think about them? They are pointless. Complete waste of time. I did spend some time on studying and understanding the material, but I could as well memorize the answers and pass all of the tests with flying colors without having even a tiny bit of knowledge. And doing exams just to keep people busy is a waste of resources.

I wouldn't fear that ham bands will turn into another CB. To get on 2m or 70cm all you need is a Technician license, and I know people who got it just after skimming through the the book. If CBers haven't flooded UHF/VHF bands it's only because they don't want it, not because they can't.

Anyway, how many people use CB radio today?

Jacek

kw4ep

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Be careful what you wish for. An On-Line exam would have to be assumed to be an open book exam. A properly designed open book exam would be a bear if you don't REALLY know your stuff. I've taken enough open book exams and watched enough other students struggling with them to know that this is a fact.

 

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8 hours ago, KW4EP said:

Anyway, how many people use CB radio today?

Jacek

kw4ep

Good question. It's been a long time since every fifth car had a gigantic stainless steel whip flopping around on the rear fender. Only place I regularly see them is on 18 wheelers. 

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ELMER

Interesting... https://www.engadget.com/digital-sat-coronavirus-pandemic-205415658.html

They're thinking of making the SAT available online. I mean really, if they can give the half-day SAT online, securely, and with confidence, I figure we should be able to give a 35 to 50-question test online also? Or am I missing something?

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ELMER

At this point, it's evident that most people want some kind of online testing... I'm wondering who besides the Anchorage group is now actually offering online testing?

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  • 7 months later...

Given the circumstances, ONLINE testing may be the only way to go... Maybe structuring a week long, online, class to force prospects to immerse themselves and show commitment... with a final timed exam. 

I am biased here because my wife and brother have been waiting to test for months now with no test dates in the foreseeable future. 

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  • 7 months later...

i see no reason to prohibit  "Occasionally"  online testing. as some parts of even the United States of America it can be very hard to find, let alone get to a testing site.

and do to this it should be for all classes.

but yes how to prevent cheating?  i would like to believe not a problem, but the tech, would get them, general and extra, only a fool would do that there. and just might be found out real fast.

most of the USA will be in fixed classes, but some parts of say Alaska. Montana, etc.  a testing site could be a days drive away, then overnight, then a days drive home. (maybe even more travel time?).

i work weekends, so i would lose a days pay to get to a test. but it is only a hr or two worth of drive time for me. not a problem.

 

yes i am trying to "memorize" the questions and answers. (not very good at that).  but along with it, i am also trying to learn what the q&a mean, say, do, etc.

i would be a fool to just get my general, and not know what i need to know. knowledge is power.  if there was a online test, would i do it? i do not know, it would be better to ask if i could even make it to a test site. but then i am sure there are two or four within 100 miles of my home.

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Well, the difference in an SAT and an FCC test is....passing an online SAT doesn't get you a college degree.

I was a deputy and private investigator in Texas and worked some of the casinos in Lake Charles.  It's amazing what some people will do just for the Adrenalin rush of cheating.  It wasn't about whether they won or not, it's the thrill of "beating the casino".  I took all my three tests the traditional way, but my local club gives the "online exam" and I could beat it tomorrow.

They require you to have two cameras, one on your computer, and one on your phone.  You do a 360* pan with your phone so they can see the room you're in, then you prop  it up a few feet away from you so that they can see your hands on the keyboard during the test  Then they supposedly watch you throughout the entire test on the camera on your computer screen.

And then after all the rig-a-ma-role about panning the room, I'd sit down at my laptop, step on the foot pedal to inconspicuously turn on the projector that is putting all the slides with the answers on them on the wall 10 feet in front of me out of the cameras view, and take the test.  I'd miss one or two on purpose just so not to look suspicious.   Here at the community college you can rent the projector (free) with a college student ID.  And on base you can rent one (free) at the MWR office with a military ID.

Another popular way to "beat the casino" was the wireless glasses.  They have a pinhole camera on the bridge where your nose is.  Not noticeable from more than a foot away. The test taker is wearing his "hearing aid".  The guy with the wireless monitor is sitting in the next room seeing everything on the screen the test taker is.  When the test taker pauses, the confederate gives him the answer to the question on the screen in his earbug.   The wifi video glasses are available on Amazon for $59.99.  The really good ones are $199.  For a computer screen 12 inches away, the $59 ones are all you need.  The screen isn't going to be far enough away for the sucky resolution to matter.

The problem with untrained and unseasoned people trying to proctor an online exam, is most people that haven't worked investigations or law enforcement just don't comprehend how nefarious and sneaky some people are and the lengths they will go to to cheat.  I caught one student when I was proctoring at the community college.  The instructor had given them a copy of the test the week before so they could study.  The 20-question exam was identical to the "study guide".  Same questions, same order.  The student had gone down his pencil in order and made a dot into the wood of his pencil with a thumbtack for every question.  One dent for "A", two dents for "B", three dents for "C", and four dents for "D".  So if he didn't know the answer to question #5, he just pretended to think about it will holding his pencil the right way...count down 5 rows, he sees three dots, the answer is "C".  It was so lazy it was funny.  I mean, who couldn't memorize 20 questions on a "Intro to computers" course after the instructor gave you the test with the answers?

Most of the "old goats" at my local club are 50 to 70 years old and are doing good if they can figure out how to install Chirp on their Windows 98 computer and plug it in to their radio.  So I just don't put much confidence in them outsmarting a sneaky kid who can write Java and C# and has been building his own computers since he was 8 years old.

And you think I'm being funny.  I swear to God.  I had a service call to a lawyers office a few years ago.  The NC court system went online and they now require all attorneys to file their documents online.  His service call was that he couldn't connect to the NC Court system server and he couldn't file his documents online.  I sit down as his paralegal's desk....this is 2014 now....and he's running Windows 95 on a dial-up network for his law office.

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ELMER

The art of war: deception.

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