Each spring semester ends with exams in the summer, spring semester 2021 is obviously no different. However, things have pretty much changed due to the current pandemic and the resulting social distancing SOPs which are to be followed by universities. A long 4-month semester normally includes several interactions with students which not only make you remember the class and some students but also the students get to hold on to memories that were created during the course.
Scholarly part apart which gives both the students and the instructor a chance to improve upon their knowledge and skills, I personally consider the extracurricular part being something which the students remember and cherish as a lifelong memory. Distance Learning and then being on camera doesn’t allow one to exercise the extracurricular part of the course in a fun and memorable way. The same was happening with a course I was teaching at NUST School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (NUST – SEECS). The course progressed pretty normally, the class was almost happy and we were covering all the topics as per the schedule and course goals.
After finalizing the course and just a week before the end semester exam, a got a message through the collaboration platform we use for teaching and course management, from a colleague requesting to vet the final paper. This is an interesting practice with its benefits and drawbacks which we can discuss some other time. However, the interesting thing was that the colleague in question had quit and left the department months ago which I did confirm from him and he reported his account compromised.
Now starts the interesting part, after a long semester of teaching activities this pretty small yet enticing incident made me think why not use this as a fun activity, after informing the concerned people regarding the possibility of the compromised accounts. I began searching for ways to incorporate tracking in MS word documents which is pretty easy and fun especially in the latest Docx format. I took time and created a dummy exam paper which I tried to look as authentic and as real as possible. Then enabled the settings so the permissions for access are in place and even put password protection and shared with the account that put in place this phishing attack.