Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blog Post #14

Teacher Knows if You've Done the E-Reading
courseSmart logo

This article explains a new technology, CourseSmart, that is being tested now at Texas A&M. It allows teachers to know if students have even opened the text book, read the text book, and even highlighted the text. CourseSmart allows teachers to track each student through digital textbooks. This article presents many pros and cons for the teachers and the students. A teacher could have a student who is doing well on quizzes, but their "engagement index" is low. This could mean that the student had not even opened their book. The question for the teacher is "what does that say about the student?" Should a teacher talk to that student about their study habits? Is the text book not helpful? Is the course too easy? As for the students they are not actually able to see their engagement index, but they know they are being watched!

As a teacher I feel like I would ask myself the same questions presented in the article. The biggest question would be, "how exactly should I interpret this information?" What should I do with this information? I do like that as a teacher I can see if my student actually did the reading. Some students complete the reading but have terrible test anxiety. In younger students this may be a way to identify this test anxiety at an early age. It also may be a way to provide participation points if students read, and will cut out reading quizzes in class. As a teacher I think it has its pros and cons, but can at least be used as a reference.

As a student my first thought is, "how could someone get around this technology?" I feel like I would read the text regardless, because it is supposed to help me, but I know there are students who will try to get around reading the text but make it look like they have. This was even one of the cons listed in the article. You can't say it hasn't even crossed your mind. Wouldn't students be able to just leave the screen up, and perform other tasks? This allows the computer to be "tricked" into thinking you are actually completing the readings. Then you would ask, "well what if I asked them to highlight key points?" Students are going to find a way around it! Believe me, I know people that will go through the trouble to fake their readings, so they do not have to take ten minutes of their time to actually complete the reading. Then my next question would be about the teacher. I would wonder how much the teacher is going to rely on this information. Would I really have to change my study habits to accommodate this new technology? I really do like that this may allow more class time for students who actually read, and pay attention to continue with the lesson and class.

My questions for a teacher currently testing this technology:

1. How beneficial do you think this product will be in your classroom?
2. How will you hold students accountable? Or will you? Will there be a grade for reading?
3. What will you do to ensure students are not cheating their readings? Is it possible?
4. What would you say to a student who is performing well on test/quizzes but according to their engagement index they are not completing the readings?

My questions for a student currently testing this technology:

1. Do you actually physically complete you readings?
2. Since using this technology in the classroom do you find that you are more susceptible to completing the readings versus before when the technology was not being used to check?
3. Do you feel that your grades have improved due to the fact that you know you are being "watched"?
4. Do you feel that this technology is effective in the classroom?

My comment on this article:

I feel that my opinion is on the fence right now. I am curious to see the results of this experiment with this technology. I think that maybe it might be more useful in younger classrooms to identify comprehension problems, and test anxiety. In a college setting...maybe not so much. I feel it would eventually lead to a good bit of people trying to "cheat the system" to get participation points, or what ever may be at stake. Also in many of my college classrooms we "refer" to the text book, or use it to complete homework. That is why I feel that e-books should be an option in almost every classroom, especially due to the cheaper cost! That is a completely different topic, but I do not know how effective it would be to "watch" college students to see if they are reading. College students are there because they want to be, do they need something to actually watch them and make sure they are completing their readings?

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