This article is about how several Texas A&M professors are using a new technology called CourseSmart. CourseSmart allows professors to “see” which students are using their digital textbooks, how many times they have opened it, if they are highlighting, and so on. Each student receives a personal engagement index. However, only the professors see these, unless the professor shows them. This technology gives the professors more insight on their students, therefore, those professors can help their students better. There are some negatives. Some students do not take notes using a file CourseSmart receives information from. Some students can just leave their book “open” to increase their engagement index. A professor can read their students enough to know whether they are “cheating” the index or use different technology to learn.This technology is going to be implemented more broadly this upcoming fall.
Reaction As a Teacher
CourseSmart would help me understand my students better. I can see which chapters catch more interest, which chapters that never get looked at once or twice, and it will help me learn the studying habits of my students. CourseSmart is a great technology for teachers. Of course, there are always negatives. It will be up to me, as a teacher, to look at an engagement index and determine if that score really reflects the student. CourseSmart might cause us to become dependent on it for “reading” and knowing our students. It is our responsibility to know which students are like Hillary or Charles in this article.
Reaction As a Student
As a student, I personally hate reading textbooks. I am an A/B student in college and was in high school. I have learned to learn without reading from the textbook- I go to class, take notes, and use the textbook to add missing info to my notes or read a small paragraph. CourseSmart would show my studying habits are not “good” because I don’t use the textbook enough or rarely at all. I do not believe CourseSmart should give an engagement index score to a student. This technology should simply show how each student studies or possibly does not study. I personally would not like CourseSmart because I do not trust that my professors (or past teachers) would take the time to truly get to know their students before they make an instant opinion of the student based on their index.
Questions for the Teacher
- How do you use the information you receive by using CourseSmart?
- Do you believe the index given to each student accurately portrays their study habits?
- How do you get to know if your students are engaged in the class? (CourseSmart, body language, etc)
- Do you believe CourseSmart invades on student privacy?
- Since these students have chosen to go to college and pay for the textbook and tuition, should it be your responsibility to keep up with whether a student is reading the textbook or not?
Questions for the Students
- Do you believe your index score accurately reflex your studying habits?
- Have you ever used an excuse, dealing with a bug or failure in the software, to explain your engagement index?
- Do you believe it is necessary to read the textbook to pass this class?
- Do you think CourseSmart is beneficial to you as a student?
- Since you paid for the class and the book, do you believe professors should know whether you use the textbook or not?
If I were to Comment…
CourseSmart is a good tool for professors, if and only if, the professors use it as a general analysis. It shows only a broad analysis of whether or not the textbook is useful for this class or not. If the professor has a high percentage of students pass and they rarely opened the textbook, the professor can decided whether to make the textbook optional for the next semester class. The professor cannot set out thinking CourseSmart explains and understands who student is. Teaching is a person-to-person experience.