This is an article summarizing a new technology known as CourseSmart that is now being tested at Texas A&M. Teachers are able to know if students have opened the text book, read the textbook, or even if they have highlighted in the textbook. CourseSmart allows teachers to track each student through digital textbooks. As with all aspects of technology, CourseSmart comes with both its pros and cons for teachers and students. A student's "engagement index" may be low, but the student may be doing exceptionally well on quizzes. This is evidence that the student may have not even opened the textbook. The teacher must then ask themselves "What does this say about the student?" The teacher must also determine whether or not to speak to the student about their study habits, decided if the textbook is helpful or not, or if the course is too easy. The students are not able to see their "engagement index" themselves, but they are well aware that they are being watched.
As a future teacher, I feel I would need to ask myself these same questions. The most important question would be to determine how to interpret the information. I like the idea that as a teacher I can know whether or not the students have done the reading. Although some students may do the reading, they have terrible test taking anxiety and/or skills. CourseSmart may allow for educators to identify this issue at an early point in the student's educational years. This technology also allows for a new change to be brought about in the classroom with the elimination of reading quizzes and an open opportunity for points to be given for simply doing the reading. As with all new things, there are the pros and cons, but many times the pros outweigh the cons and the new idea can be very resourceful.
As a student, I might think well "so what if I do the reading or not as long as I can summarize the text.." As an English minor, I know it can be quite helpful to have actually done the reading when it comes time for the test. This holds especially true if the test format is an essay. There are still many students that will do whatever it takes to get around doing the reading and to take the easy way out. This is one of the cons included in the article. There are ways around this technology as there are ways around other means of technology. Some examples include simply leaving the screen up and doing other tasks such as surfing the internet or spending time on social networks. The computer can do many things that humans cannot do, but a computer can still be fooled just the same way a human can be fooled. A student may leave the screen up while doing other tasks to make it appear as though they have done the reading. A teacher may think of an idea to have the students show evidence of doing the readings such as marking key points or words which they do not understand. As we all know, there are students that will find their way around completing any task and some of us have been there ourselves. Not only must a teacher decide how to interpret the information provided by CourseSmart, but a teacher must also determine how much they plan to rely on the information. This technology will highlight the study habits of the students and allow more class time and discussion for the students who complete the reading.
My questions for a teacher currently testing this technology:
1) How are you interpreting the information you receive from this technology?
2) How do you evaluate students based on the information?
3) What benefits have you discovered with using this technology? What difficulties/misinterpretations have you discovered?
4) What is your opinion of students who are not completing the reading according to their engagement index, but are doing exceptionally well on tests/quizzes?
My questions for a student currently testing this technology:
1) Do you actually complete the readings or do you find ways around doing so?
2) Do you feel a lack of freedom or like you are being "watched" because of this program?
3) Has this program changed your attitude toward actually doing the readings or is it about the same?
4) How effective do you feel this technology is in the classroom?
My comment on this article:
I am somewhat caught in the middle as far as my opinion on this program. This is because on one hand it is nice to be able to determine if a student is actually completing the reading, but at the same time a student is able to find a means of getting around this technology. I would like to see the results of using this program and hear opinions of those who have used it. In a college atmosphere, this technology would not be as useful because a textbook is not used as useful as it is in a classroom for younger students. I think this a program that would open up the chance for more "cheating of the system." College students are there on their own self motivation to better their future, and younger students are required to be in class. I feel that college students should not be placed in a situation where they are being "watched." College is about becoming independent.