back to article Exam board to hear appeal over format cockup

An IT class at a school in Lincolnshire will be allowed to appeal after failing their diploma because they submitted their work in the wrong formats, including Microsoft Word. Exam board Edexcel said today that it had agreed with Cotelands School that the 29 students affected by would be allowed to appeal. They will resubmit …

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Linked content on local servers

This is incredibly easy to do accidentally in Word. I made a report in html (because it was trivially easy to auto-generate that way) then loaded it in Word and saved as .doc only to discover that it wasn't saving the images in the file and needed them in the exact same folder to display properly on another computer. When I converted it to pdf no problem.

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@censored

Umm you can lock .doc and .docx files as well to prevent editing not that hard to do. As for .pdf being immune fine arguement as long as you explin why they allow .ppt and .xls files which are editable. Stop talking through your mouth and admit to being a troll. This school is just idiotic and if you had taken time to look through the "approved" list you would have seen that too.

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Class Action anyone?

Sue them all, including the examiners!

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Stupidity

On one hand, the students and instructor should have checked which formats are accepted and made sure they used the right ones. On the other hand, the examiners should have told them about the problem instead of just failing everyone. A good upload system blocks unacceptable formats, but these would have been sent in a single archive or mailed on CD. Looking at previous years' entries (under "Getting the standard right") shows that they are major projects with multiple resources, including a web site. That can't reasonably be submitted through a form in a browser.

re @censored:

Locking a file is easy. So is unlocking the file. Locking a file such that anyone can read it, but no one can unlock it, even when copied to other computers possibly running different operating systems, is not at all easy. If you actually read past the first sentence, you'd see that they have *programs* that can read but not modify .ppt and .xls files, even if the file itself is editable. There is no program that can read but not edit .doc files, so they cannot guarantee the integrity of .doc files, thus they can not accept .doc files.

censored has it exactly right. The list looks strange and arbitrary at first, but they're actually limited by what *viewer* apps exist, and those determine what file formats they can use. Hence Acrobat Reader, Excel/Powerpoint/Mediator/Openmind Viewers, rather than the full version. There are no programs that can only read text files, so no .doc, .txt, .rtf, etc.

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@censored

..."There is no Word viewer"...

Ummm, what's this then? http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=95E24C87-8732-48D5-8689-AB826E7B8FDF&displaylang=en

To quote from the link "View, print and copy Word documents, even if you don't have Word installed. This download is a replacement for Word 97 Viewer and all previous Word Viewer versions."

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@AC - I DID read the list...

And if you had too, you'd see the examiner only has xls and ppt VIEWERS.

The point is not that they can or can't be edited by anyone, but that they cannot be changed by the examiner. The files will leave the students, then only put onto a machine that is not capable of editing them. No-one else sees them. Then there can be no suggestion of foul play.

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Linux

So...

...under current government policy schools have been required to use OpenDocument formats since 2005, yet EdExcel still accepts MS Office? Deep fail, me thinks...

http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20051026195537674

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Re: Daniel Bennett & Pierre (and a couple of others)

Thanks guys, I was beginning to lose hope of intelligence anywhere in this thread!

Completely agree with the points made about the documents not being editable, however everyone seems to have missed another major reason for not allowing word docs.

When transferring a word document from one machine to another you cannot be certain how it will render. Depending on how the original machine is configured, how the viewing machine is configured, which fonts are loaded on each, the default paper sizes, borders etc, will make a difference on how the document looks on the viewing machine. Assuming at least some of the marks for this work are for presentation, how can the examiner be certain that what they are seeing on their screen is what the student intended to present? If the student creates a document which is well laid out and presented, but it doesn't render properly on the examiners machine, should that student be marked down for it?

One of the main benefits of PDF (other than the difficulty of altering it), is that the way it always renders the same on all machines, so you can be certain that if it looks correct on your machine when you create it, it will still look the same when it is marked.

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@Pierre

"How is that? They were scored based on results. More specifically, they were scored based on the *absence* of result (a significant part of the work not being available to the examiners). Hey teacher, here is my homework, it's printed on transparent weightless paper using invisible ink! Can I have an A+++ please?"

Because students are "educated" in a system where there are few boundaries and no strict guidelines. Instead of getting knocked back when they fail or do something stupid (and have them learn from their mistakes) the mentality of "Never mind, it's the effort that counts" becomes the norm for them. I double and triple check every piece of work and documentation I send out knowing it will be scrutinised to the n'th degree - this is basic common sense not to mention bloody good practice.

"Also, if DiDA qualifies as"Academics" or "higher education" for you, I understand why you failed to get the point."

Oh dear; I think I'd give that comment a "3/10 must try harder".

The people who lecture these students have been through higher education, almost certainly to degree level and they failed to demonstrate the level of care and sense common among people who live and work outside of education.

It's simply unwise and unfair to entirely blame the students for this fiasco, at least 50% of the blame lays with their lecturers for not making them understand the course requirements and for allowing them to submit their work in this format.

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Anonymous Coward

IT Training is such a joke

they just don't have a clue, it is the blind leading the blind, there are no one eyes when it comes to IT training, and they do far more harm than any good.

We need more carpenters, plumbers, farmers, mechanics, builders, not one more idiot behind a mouse, pointing and clicking the economy into depression.

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Maybe they should use OpenOffice next year...

Maybe next year instead of giving over thousands of pounds of school money to Microsoft for Office and have the work produced in the wrong format they should use OpenOffice and submit it all in PDF. At least in PDF there is no way any of the work could be intentionally altered.

It is laughable though that firstly Edexel aren't able to read the most common document format in the world, and even more funny is the fact that they are not allowed to contact the school in the case of such a major mess up. Surely if they were allowed to contact the school after realising the blunder this could have easily been rectified without all the red tape of going through the appeals process, all the students getting told they've failed, and then all having to have their work re-assessed, all of which is wasting time for these students. It's not too bad at the moment as they're probably not going off to college, but if this had happened in the summer exams some of these students might have missed out on college places due to Edexel's incompetence.

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Re: Pierre (Andrew M)

"Because students are "educated" in a system where there are few boundaries and no strict guidelines. Instead of getting knocked back when they fail or do something stupid"

Well, this time they were, weren't they? So it's indeed *not* "demonstrating what happens when people are scored on effort rather than results."

"The people who lecture these students have been through higher education, almost certainly to degree level and they failed to demonstrate the level of care and sense common among people who live and work outside of education."

Switch the telly on. Zap around. Say that again with a straight face. Also, the fact that the teacher involved might have been to Uni at some point (which is pure supposition from your part) doesn't make it part of "the Academics" -or of the "higher education" system, for that matter.

I know that The -commie- Education is usually an easy target, but you missed it completely. Equip flail.

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@ Andrew Macrobie

"It's simply unwise and unfair to entirely blame the students for this fiasco, at least 50% of the blame lays with their lecturers for not making them understand the course requirements and for allowing them to submit their work in this format."

The prof. is probably partly responsible, but are you saying that the students should be pampered to the point where they don't have to bother about anything (the teacher will take care of everything)? Are you suggesting that they should have passed because the teacher let them behave stupidly? Apparently, people in "the education" have more common sense than that.

Also, this part of you comment is in direct contradiction with your immediately preceding paragraphs. Equip flail, part 2.

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Silly

If the goal is to have documents that cannot be edited, then the docs should be printed and submitted. Hardcopy. Otherwise, anything can be edited.

If the goal is to make it reasonably hard to make changes so that the vast majority won't try ... just require everything to be submitted as PDF. Or, if it's a presentation, as some kind of movie file.

Otherwise, you end up with this kind of confusion. And, honestly, not being able to open the most common document format on the planet seems rather lame.

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