Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blog Assignment #14

Teacher Knows if You've Done the E-Reading

This article discussed new technology that is being tested which would allow professors to know whether or not students are reading the course material. The school in the article was Texas A&M, and these professors know whether or not their students are reading the material, taking notes, or not even looking at the material. Eight other colleges are also testing this technology that allows them to track their students' progress through digital textbooks. CourseSmart provides each professor with information on each individual student in their class. This is allowing the professors to examine whether or not their students' study habits need changing. For example, one professor at Texas A&M noticed that a student was doing well on all of his quizzes. He had a good score in the class and his "engagement index" was noted by CourseSmart. However, the professor noticed that this student had only opened his textbook once. The professor knew he needed to reach out to this student about his study habits because how much learning is being accomplished if you only open the book the night before the test? Another student was opening his textbook frequently but kept getting low scores on quizzes. Then, it was learned that he had a low CourseSmart index. Some people have complained that there are problems with the software. For example, one student said that they had opened the book more than once, but the software just did not record it. Other problems with CourseSmart lie in the fact that students can manipulate the software. Students can leave the text open and go do something else. The time spent on the text is being recorded; however, the student is not reading the text. The software also has an advantage in that it allows teachers to examine their lecture methods. One professor noticed that his students had high scores on quizzes and assignments, but their engagement indexes were low. This led the professor to believe that he may need to challenge his students more or that the textbook was not as good as he thought.

As a teacher, I believe this new technology has both advantages and disadvantages. An advantage would be that CourseSmart will provide me with information on each student I am teaching. If I know some basic information about the students in my class, it will ultimately change the way I present the material which would then benefit my students. Also, this technology would allow me to view the study habits of my students and gauge the difficulty of the material I am presenting to them. For example, if I see that my students are never looking at the textbook and still score very well on all of the assignments, then my material may not be challenging enough. On the other hand, if my students are reading the text frequently and do poorly on the assignments, then I may need to slow down and review the material. This technology would also be beneficial as a teacher because it would allow me to see whether or not students are confused because of a lack of understanding or simply because they have not read the material assigned. However, I must be careful when viewing this information because as the article stated, the digital textbooks can be tricked. Students could be opening the textbook and not reading the material at all. So, I must be careful in the assumptions that I make. Overall, I think the CourseSmart E-Textbooks would be very beneficial to me as a teacher.

As a student, I do not think I would like the CourseSmart E-Textbooks. I had a class last year that had a digital textbook, and I did not like it. I am a traditional book reader. I would definitely rather read the material from a hard copy of the book than I had a digital textbook. It is more convenient for me to take notes and study by holding my book while I underline and mark important pages. Also, I may write down what I think is important from the book and just study that. So, if I were to do this with the CourseSmart digital textbooks, my professor would think that I never studied. It does not mean that the material is not challenging. It just means that I was able to write down the information that I needed from the textbook, and then I did not need to look at the actual textbook again.

If I were to talk to Mr. Guardia, I would want to ask him the following questions:
1. Have you seen an improvement in the study habits of your students since implementing this technology?
2. Has this technology led you to change the way you present material?
3. Since using the CourseSmart technology, have you been able to better understand why some students may be struggling (or doing well) in your class?
4. Are you able to tell which students may be manipulating the software to make it seem as if they are reading the material?
5. If students are performing well on quizzes and assignments but still do not read the material, are there any repercussions?

If I interviewed the students in Mr. Guardia's class, I would want to ask them the following questions:
1. Have your study habits changed since using this technology?
2. If your study habits have changed, have you seen an improvement in your overall grade?
3. Do you prefer to have a hardcopy of the textbook or use the digital textbooks?
4. Have Mr. Guardia's lectures changed any since your class started using this technology?
5. Do you feel that this technology allows Mr. Guardia to accurately view how long or hard you studied for each quiz or assignment?

What Comment Would I Leave on this Article?

I can see the pros and cons of this technology. As a teacher, it may would be beneficial because it would allow you to see which students are making a conscious effort to learn the material. As a student, I do not think I would like this technology. Also, I think it would be hard to apply this type of technology to all subjects. For example, students may be reading the math textbook online, but without working any examples, I doubt they will fully grasp certain concepts. I also think that there are some flaws that should be addressed. How would you know if the students were actually reading the text or if they were just opening the text and leaving to do something else? Also, all students have different study habits and some students may not need to study as long or as often as other students. I think that this technology may be useful for some classes, but I do not think that this type of technology should be implemented into every classroom.

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