Singaporean tutor convicted in FaceTime-powered exam cheating plot

The Singaporean tutor used the iPhone’s video chat app FaceTime to connect with her three accomplices and provided a “live feed of the exam papers” she was answering, according to the prosecutors. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Singaporean tutor convicted in FaceTime-powered exam cheating plot

SINGAPORE: A Singaporean private tutor has been convicted over an elaborate scheme to help Chinese secondary school students cheat in an exam using mobile phones and wireless devices, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Tan Jia Yan, 32, pleaded guilty on Monday to her part in the plot in which answers to O-Level exams were relayed to at least six students via mobile phones concealed under their clothing and connected wirelessly to skin-colored earpieces, they said.
Tan, who will be sentenced next month, faces a jail term of up to three years and a fine.
Academic excellence is highly valued in Singapore which often tops international education rankings, although the system has been criticized for putting children under too much pressure at a young age.
The Chinese nationals who took the exams in October, 2016 were students at a tuition center where Tan was a teacher.
Students in the city-state often go for extra tuition in order to have better chances of passing key exams such as O-Levels, which determine if they can qualify for junior college, a direct path to university.
Details of the case provided by the Attorney General’s Chambers said Tan conspired with three accomplices to cheat the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board.
On the test days, the students were made to conceal mobile phones and Bluetooth devices under their clothing and wear an earpiece, according to the prosecutors.
Tan, who was also among those taking the exams, had an iPhone taped on her chest area and she concealed the device by wearing a jacket.
Once the tests started, Tan used the iPhone’s video chat app FaceTime to connect with her three accomplices and provided a “live feed of the exam papers” she was answering, according to the prosecutors.
The accomplices — who have pleaded not guilty — would find the answers to the questions and call the students individually to relay the answers.
“Investigations revealed that the above sophisticated cheating operations ran uninterrupted from 19 October until 24 October 2016,” the prosecutors said.
The cheating was exposed on the final day when one of the students was caught after an invigilator heard “unusual electronic transmission sounds emitting from him,” they said.


Armored dinosaur with spiky head unveiled at Utah museum

This undated photo from the Natural History Museum of Utah shows the heavily ornamented skull of an ankylosaur, a squat plant-eater that was covered in bony armor from its spiky head to its clubbed tail, before its unveiling at the museum in Salt Lake City. (AP)
Updated 49 min 21 sec ago
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Armored dinosaur with spiky head unveiled at Utah museum

  • Paleontologists believe the animals migrated to North America several times over the eons when lowered sea levels allowed them to cross a land bridge
  • The fossil was discovered on the Kaiparowits Formation, a thick layer of sandstone that also has vast coal reserves inside a sprawling national monument

SALT LAKE CITY: A dinosaur that was covered in bony armor from its spiky head to its clubbed tail has been unveiled at a museum in Utah.
The species of ankylosaur was a squat plant-eater that roamed southern Utah on four legs about 76 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous Period. At that time, the desert state was hot and humid, covered with slow-moving streams and rivers as well as large conifer trees, paleontologist Randall Irmis said.
It was about as long as a large alligator and stood at a height that would have been about waist-high for a tall human. It likely used its distinctive clubbed tail and armor for protection, though they could also have been used for display.
The fossil unveiled Thursday at the Natural History Museum of Utah was first discovered in 2008 in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a rich dinosaur repository in southern Utah.
The fossil was discovered on the Kaiparowits Formation, a thick layer of sandstone that also has vast coal reserves inside a sprawling national monument that was one of two President Donald Trump ordered downsized last year. The spot where the fossil was found remains within Grand Staircase-Escalante boundaries, though areas that are now outside the boundaries also have fossil potential, Irmis said.
Researchers were expecting it to have smooth bony armor on its skull like other North American ankylosaurs, but were surprised to find evidence that it instead had spiky armor on its head and snout, similar to fossils found in Asia.
Paleontologists believe the animals migrated to North America several times over the eons when lowered sea levels allowed them to cross a land bridge.
The species was dubbed Akainacephalus johnsoni to recognize Randy Johnson, a retired chemist and museum volunteer who spent hundreds of hours painstakingly freeing the skull from rock and debris.
Along with a complete skull, the fossil also includes the distinctive tail club, large parts of its spinal vertebral column and parts of its body armor, including two neck rings and spiked armor plates, the museum said in a statement.