Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blog Post #14

Teacher Knows if You Have Done the E-Reading
ereader by David Streitfeld is an article that discusses new technology from CourseSmart that allows professors to track their students’ progress when reading digital textbooks. This technology is being tested by several professors at Texas A&M to see if there is a correlation between the amount of time a student spends reading and highlighting digital text and a student's success in a course. CourseSmart claims that they can provide a constant stream of data for faculty and administrators that will serve as an indicator of how well a student is doing. The article also states how this information will benefit publishers and authors because it will provide them with data to better plan and produce textbooks. After beginning with several good points, the article then presents some arguments against this type of technology. It states that there are concerns with software glitches, privacy issues, and data reliability. CourseSmart defends their technology and says this is just the beginning of their efforts to create a system that will "ultimately show how the student traverses the book".

How would I react to this technology if I was the teacher?
I would probably reject this technology. I don't think a student can learn just by reading and highlighting a textbook. There are some courses that don't even use a textbook. Although textbooks can be used to enhance lessons, teachers don't always cover every section of a textbook. I think it is important as a teacher to give suggested reading that will compliment the topics discussed in class. I also believe that there are current methods being used to gauge how well a student is comprehending the material. Student blogs are a great way to have students display their understanding and interpretation of assigned materials. Having an interactive classroom will also give a teacher a visual of how well a student is engaging in learning. As a teacher, I would like to have class time to encourage open discussion and allow group interaction. During group time, I would be free to walk around and observe what input individual students are contributing to the activity assigned. Having students fill out a reflection sheet or take a quiz can also help a teacher determine how well a student is learning the material. As a teacher, the biggest problem I see with using this CourseSmart technology, is that I don't want to judge a student's ability to learn on one, possibly unreliable, computer generated outcome.

How would I react to this technology from a student perspective?
I am not a robot. Every student does not learn the same way. I am a visual learner so I do like to see things in print and pictures, and I enjoy reading, but I believe I learn the most from experience and interaction. I enjoy hearing other people's insight. Besides, how much of the textbook is my professor going to use? Am I going to be judged on how much of the book I read, how long it takes me to read, how much I highlight? As a student, I like to find out what the professor expects of me and how he or she will be determining my success in the course. I would prefer not to have my success determined by a computer program. So overall, I'm not a big fan of the CourseSmart technology.

Questions I would ask the professors at Texas A&M
What specific area are you evaluating from the data collected by CourseSmart?
Do you feel they provide accurate and reliable information?
Do you see this information as a means to provide your students a better education? and how?
What do you personally see as the pros and cons of using this data?
I understand that this program measures who is reading/highlighting and how much, but how do you determine how much they are learning or comprehending?
Is this the only data or source you use to measure a student's study habits?
What other variables would you say affect a student's test score?
What tools are you using to evaluate how well they are able to apply what they are reading and what you are teaching?

Questions I would ask the students at Texas A&M
How much do you know about CourseSmart and the program that is being tested here at Texas A&M?
Do you feel this technology is enhancing the learning environment at Texas A&M?
Does this increase the level of pressure you feel as a student to perform?
Does your professor explain the importance of this data and how he or she will be using the results?
Have you made any changes to your study habits based on the data given to your professor by CourseSmart?
Have you experienced any discrepancies in the information that has been provided by CourseSmart?
Would you like the professors at Texas A&M to keep using this technology? Why or why not?

My Comments
nose in a bookWho stands to benefit the most from this technology?  If the answer is not the student, then what is the purpose?  I love to read, and it is a great way to learn, but it is not the only way.  My concern is that this software seems to be making a direct correlation between the amount of time a student spends in a digital textbook and their ability to learn. Although there may be a correlation, it is not as significant as CourseSmart makes it seem; it's not the only measure of success or failure.  To me, it's not a measure of whether or not, or how much a student reads the textbook; it's how much the student is comprehending.  Can a student take the material being taught and apply it to real life situations? How can I develop better student engagement in my classroom?  Incorporating more project-based activities will help create an active learning environment that will provide better opportunities for students to learn.  I believe reading is very important, but it's also important that teachers encourage students to get their noses out of the book and get them engaged in hands-on, collaborative, learning.

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