Saturday, April 27, 2013

Blog Assignment #14

Teacher Knows If You Have Done The E-Reading

In this article, David Streitfield discusses a fascinating new technology known as CourseSmart, which allows instructors to track their students' progress through digital textbooks. The technology monitors everything from the notes students are taking to how many times they "open" the textbook itself and compiles the information into what's known as an engagement index. The pros to this technology are that it allows educators another way to see which students are having trouble or just not putting forth any effort at all and adjust their lessons accordingly. And since all the data goes to the publishing companies that own the software, they're able to use it to create later editions of the textbooks. Like with all technology there are some cons, however. Engagement index scores could be lowered because students took notes on paper or there were technology glitches. Regardless of one's view of the technology, it's changing the way some instructors approach educating their students.

As a teacher, I like the concept of this technology. By viewing how each student is utilizing the textbook, I can determine whether or not it's a valuable tool in my lessons. It also lets me better understand how my students learn and which ones need to focus more or need further help. In a largely technological educational world where a teacher doesn't always see their students face to face, this could be a great tool to help measure understanding and the effectiveness of a lesson.

As I student, I agree with those interviewed. There simply isn't enough information provided by this software for it to be completely effective. I'm one of those students who doesn't always like the way the textbook presents the information and if I think I can learn better from my notes or other sources, I won't bother with the book at all. Also, I don't think how often I look at the textbook and the notes I may or may not take should  possibly effect my score or, potentially, the instructor's perspective of me.

The questions I would ask the instructor that was interviewed for the article would be:
1. What do you do with the data you collect from CourseSmart?
2. Have you changed the way you approached teaching certain lessons because of this technology?
3. Do you factor in the engagement index score as part of your students' grades?

The questions I would ask the students in his class would be:
1. Do you think you benefit from the data collected? And if so, in what ways?
2. Does knowing that your being monitored make you feel like you have to use your textbook more          often than you normally would otherwise?
3. Do you actively use your textbook more in order to increase your score?

Honestly, I think this software is a way for the publishers to market and validate making new additions of their books based on this "data". There are some benefits to knowing the study habits of one's students, but I think the emphasis on using the textbook is completely ridiculous and won't be effective in helping to improve the way instructor's educate.

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