Teacher Knows if You Have Done the E-Reading by David Streitfeld
Summary: This article discusses another way technology is being used in the classroom. The article discusses textbooks that have the capability of tracking the student. The textbook software for each student is then sent to the professor for review. The idea, as I understood it, was that teachers would use this data to better understand why students were making the grades they were on tests and quizzes. For the case study used in this article there was a correlation between amount of reading as documented by the data and the students' grades. Examples were given of students with C's & compared to students with A's. The idea is that the more you are reading (according to the software, the higher your grade). However, they are finding some problems with the data, and how it is tracked.
My Thoughts: I found myself extremely excited when I read the first part of the article...what a great idea, textbooks that give teachers feedback while the students are in the course. My first thought was that it is a great way to hold students accountable (I know I'm driven to get my blog post turned in each Sunday by midnight because Dr. Strange can see the date it was posted). Then, I thought about how much the feedback would help me if I was a teacher- I might have a student failing all their tests, I check the data, and they are reading. This immediately alerts me that this student needs additional help, or is struggling with basic reading skills. I would think this would be invaluable information that I might not otherwise know.
From a students perspective, I started to see the downside as the article went on and discussed how the data was flawed at times because students take notes in other ways, such as handwriting them or using their personal computers to take notes in a different program. Each student learns in a different way, so this does limit them if they want to make sure they are getting credit for their reading assignments. Also, a student can always find a way to beat the system and the example of just opening the text and doing something else proves this. At the end of the day, you either want to learn or you don't. As amazing as technology is, it's not perfect. Individuals must still want to learn & teachers must continue to find ways of encouraging learning.
If I were to talk with the teacher of the class that is described in the article,
I would want to ask a few questions:
How big are your classrooms?
Do you believe this helps you understand your students better, or do you think it makes them feel like you are babysitting them by checking to see how much they have read?
What are other note-taking options you would add to this program?
If I interviewed the students in his class, I would ask them (beyond
what Mr. Streitfeld asked)?
Does this program constantly taking data on you take away from the fun of the course and learning?
How does it make you feel to know that you are always being 'watched' via the data?
Are you learning more with this method?
My Comment: I think there is a lot of room for this program to grow, but I like the idea of what is trying to do. I believe, especially for large classes, it gives teachers an understanding of who is, or is not, getting the information...and it also gives insight to how they are, or are not, getting it. The other idea I like behind this idea is the potential to get constant feedback on a textbook...the ability to update it and improve it immediately would be a great advantage.