Antidote and the French Exams at La Ruche High School

May 31, 2017

Druide would like to set the record straight with regards to the Ministère de l’Éducation’s French exams held at the La Ruche high school in Magog, which were purportedly invalidated due to the unintentional use of its Antidote software. Contrary to what was stated in the Tribune de Sherbrooke article, which was widely disseminated by other news media, it is impossible to use Antidote’s services “without knowing it”.

The article published on May 29 reported that 37 students have had their final French exam invalidated by the Ministère for having benefited from Antidote’s services. The journalist concluded the article by stating the following: “ […] when Antidote is open, it is automatically applied to text in Microsoft Word. The 37 students therefore had access to the correction software without knowing it. […] Unfortunately, whether the student wanted it or not, the software was active […]. ”

In reality, Antidote does not automatically correct text in Microsoft Word, nor in other similar software. And, most importantly, Antidote is never activated without the user’s knowledge. On the contrary, Druide has always made sure that the correction process only ever occurs through Antidote’s own interface. Moreover, Antidote’s corrector only applies corrections with the user’s active consent, after having explained the reasoning behind the correction through an explanatory tooltip or even, if necessary, an extensive article with highly educational content.

In order to use Antidote, a student would therefore have to deliberately launch it, opening Antidote’s distinctive interface, which is easily distinguishable from Word. This would be immediately apparent to any supervisor keeping watch.

It must also be noted that Microsoft Word’s own corrector corrects texts by underlining words directly within the text, without requiring user input. It is possible that this “unintentional” underlining was mistaken for Antidote’s detections.

Lastly, there is a way to establish whether Antidote’s corrector was actually launched within a given period of time. If the computers in the class in question had the most recent version of Antidote installed—and if their hard drives have not been erased since the exam—Druide can check each machine to verify whether Antidote was used within the specified time frame. Antidote 9 is equipped with a correction memory that remembers every time the corrector is launched.

Druide was not present during the exam and cannot comment on the Ministère’s decision-making process. It can only correct the facts concerning Antidote and extend its sympathies to the 37 students concerned.

Druide informatique produces and markets Antidote, the most complete writing assistance software suite available for English and French, as well as Typing Pal, the renowned typing tutorial application. The company is also the creator of WebElixir, a quality assurance service for websites, while its subsidiary, Éditions Druide, specializes in the publication of French-language literature and reference works.