Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blog Post #14

Books coming through a computer screen symbolizing eBooks

David Streitfeld's article The Teacher Knows if You Have Done the E-Reading is all about a trail software program at Texas A&M that tracks whether or not the students in the course are using the eBook. This software, developed by Pearson, McGraw-Hill is called CourseSmart. The software actually allows the professor to see which of his or her students, opens the eBook, the chapter and pages in which they view and the amount of time in which the student reads or stays on those pages. The software is developed to give professors what they call, an engagement index. The software was created to create statistics and do studies on how often students actually use and read their eBooks. This software came after many publishing companies and schools are now using and creating textbooks that the students can view and use online instead of having to buy a hardback textbook. Students still have to purchase an access code and then create an account and this is how the professors are able to track each individual students.

As a teacher, I have mixed reactions about this technology to track a student’s progress reading their textbook. Although there have been no glitches or problems within the software that have been found, I would still be weary of solely relying on such software to know whether my students completed their E-Reading. Over time if the software was shown effective and glitches or any kind were worked out, I may be more willing to use such software. An advantage to using this software would be to see a student’s progress in their reading. It would also be helpful if you had a student that did constantly not understand material and was claiming to have read the textbook. You would be better able to tell if it was the way you were teaching or if the students were simply not doing their part by studying and reading the textbook. No software is completely perfect, but I could see the advantages of using this software, even beyond the college level. As a teacher, I would be more than willing to give this software a try in my classroom.

As a student I can see both sides of the story when it comes to using this software. Personally I am not a student that learns really well from simply reading a textbook. I learn better through hands on activities as well as note taking from lectures. If a teacher assigns a reading and ends up doing a reading check or something similar then I will read the textbook in order to due well. To be honest if a teacher simply says here is the textbook, but your exams will be from the notes I give in class, I will more than likely not read the textbook from cover to cover. In that case I would use it as supplemental material. Overall I would learn better from lecture notes and projects. I would note want a professor to grade or judge me based on the fact on the amount of time I spend with the textbook open. I may be able to read a page and understand the material in ten minutes, but another student may spend twenty minutes on the same page and we would earn the same grade on an exam. Each student learns in a different way and I would not want a teacher to judge me because I spend less time reading the textbook and more time taking notes.

If I were to have the opportunity to ask the professor of the class at Texas A&M that is currently testing the software out I have several questions that I would ask him. The first being how much he uses the information collected through the software and what purpose he uses this information for. Does the information he collects or how often a student uses the textbook have any weight in his view of that student or even any weight in their grade? How helpful is the program? Has the data that the software collected changed the way that you use the textbook or teach? Is the program easy to use or user-friendly?

If I had the chance to talk to the students that were in the course that is currently using the program on a trail run I would want to ask them a few questions. I would ask things like: What are your overall thoughts on the system? Do you think that it gives the professor a real feel of how much you study or can the results be faulty? Has your knowledge that you are being watched when reading your textbook changed the amount of time that you use the textbook or even just access it? Have your grades been affected negatively, positively, or at all?

If commenting on the article, I would write something like: There are pros and cons to almost everything in technology. There are definitely a number of advantages to this system, but there can also be some problems when relying on technology as well. I would be interested in giving this program a try on a trail run, but before relying on the system with much weight I would want to see that it runs smoothly and efficiently. Like with anything, there may be glitches that need to be worked out before this system is used in a larger capacity. I would love the opportunity to learn more about this system and possibly give it a try. The concept is unique and could be very helpful in the classroom.

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