COURSE SMART E-TEXTBOOKS
1) Teacher Knows If You Have Done the E-Reading by David Streitfeld
2) Major textbook companies such as McGraw-Hill and Pearson have taken on a new program called CourseSmart that comes with their books that allow Professors to monitor if the students are reading the book and taking notes. Obviously, these books are online digital books only and not all of the colleges using textbooks from McGraw-Hill and Pearson have adapted the new program into their classrooms. The article, to be specific, is about Texas A&M. CourseSmart seems to be a great program from the outside looking in. The teachers love the idea of knowing who reads, how much they read, when they are reading, and what they are taking notes about. Unfortunately though, for the students, some prefer to take their notes with pen and paper, some only need to study the night before the test, and some may have perfectly fine grades without reading and taking notes. These students receive low grades on their "engagement index"; the score is based on how much they used the textbook. The publishers love this though because they know which textbooks are a success and which need to be edited for future uses.
3) From the view point of a teacher, I don't think that this is something I would use in my classroom. In my opinion, the point of going to class is for the teacher to teach the students what is in the textbook and the textbook chapters are for the students to use as a reference when going back to do homework or study for the test. I would never put information on the test that wasn't covered by myself in class regardless of it was in the textbook or not. I could careless is my students read the book.
4) As a student, I take the side of some of the students in the article. My study habits involve a pen and paper. I learn best when I can write, go back and mark out, re-write, write in the margins, scribble, draw picture/graphs that help me interpret, etc. The other fault for me with this system is that I can't sit and read an online textbook for more than about 30 minutes before it gives me a migraine (and that is not personal opinion or preference- it's medical).
5) I would ask the teacher in this article:
Why do you care how often your students are using the textbook if they are still doing well in your class?
If you need to "test" if your students are reading when you tell them to, why not give them a TEST!?
What about those students who learn better with a physical text and pen/paper for note-taking?
6) I would ask the students of the class in this article:
Has anyone's grades actually got better since the adding of this program?
Which of you who used to read the text but now refuse to?
7) Comment: I think that this program is a great way for textbook companies to monitor the success of their books. They need to feedback to be able to adapt the book in a way to better serve its readers. For the teachers who are using this, I believe that the scores students make on their "engagement index" should never be reflected in their actual course average, and should not be compared to the students success. Just like every teacher has his or her own teaching style, each student also has his or her own learning style. By incorporating this program into their classrooms, they are forcing students to learn a specific way which may or may not be that particular students least restrictive style of learning. Due to this, not only will "engagement indexes" be low, but the actual level of learning in the classroom could also decrease.