Australian high-school students will be able to call a friend, surf the Internet and listen to podcasts during exams under plans revealed by an exclusive girls' college.

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Sydney's Presbyterian Ladies' College is to update the “open book” exam concept, in which students are able to bring in reference books, to take into account new technology.

YOUR SAY: Is using the internet during exams cheating?

The school is trialling the use of new media in tests with 14 and 15-year-old English students but hopes to expand its use across all subjects by year end, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

English teacher Deirdre Coleman, who is coordinating the pilot programme, said students were being encouraged to access information using their mobile phones, the Internet and from podcasts on their MP3 players during exams.

But any time a source is used, it must be cited on the test paper to prevent plagiarism, she said.

Sources must be cited

“In terms of preparing them for the world, we need to redefine our attitudes towards traditional ideas of cheating,” Coleman told the newspaper.

“In their working lives they will never need to carry enormous amounts of information around in their heads.

“What they will need to do is access information from all their sources quickly and they will need to check the reliability of their information.”

Student Anne Achie, who called an aunt during her English test, told the newspaper that “phoning a friend really helped.”

“I asked her about the Olympic Games and whether it was a waste of finances. She gave me the idea that they use the money for infrastructure instead of for China's people. I expanded on that idea,” she said.

Students set to 'phone a friend' during exams