College students communicate with text messages typed out on cell phones and take class notes on their laptops–and yet, when they take an American history exam, they do what students a generation earlier did: They scribble in a blue book, pausing only to grimace and shake a cramping hand. But with the help of technology, that is slowly starting to change, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. The blue book is widely loathed by students, who must write coherently without the benefit of a backspace key, and by professors, who must fight through a jungle of bad cursive. But no technology has managed to displace it–until now. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is trying to relegate the venerable school supply to the academic dustbin with a computer program. So far, the blue book retains the upper hand–but that could change, if some professors have their way. A few dozen UNC professors are using word-processing software called Securexam, which locks all other applications on a student’s computer so there’s no way to cheat. Each exam is encrypted and cannot be reopened once the student completes it, unless the professor OKs it. "They can’t surf the web," said Andy Lang, director of information services in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. "All wired and wireless connections are shut off." The college is spending about $30,000 a year on the software, and last semester about 1,000 students took exams with it, Lang said…

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