In our time, teachers can only guess: read their students’ textbooks or abstain – this is the opinion of professors from Texas A & M University. They can not understand – whether students miss some pages and do not consider it necessary to make abstracts, or at all do not take the textbook in hand.
“It’s something like Big Brother, only with good intentions,” says the dean of the business school, Tracy Harley. Teachers of the university no longer wish to be clairvoyant or to look at students over their shoulders. Together with colleagues from eight colleges, they test new technology from Silicon Valley – CourseSmart; It will allow students to track the study of digital textbooks.
The largest publishers of educational literature have already collected information on the use of digital educational materials. But CourseSmart went further; She provides the teacher with specific information about each of his students. This allows you to track how the teacher gives the material and what remains in the heads of the students after the lecture.
A management professor at the A & M University, Adrian Gardia, drew attention to the fact that one of the students answered questions well. Good tests have also been shown; And the CourseSmart program produced a low “participation index.” Aha, the lecturer understands – it is good, if the student opened his textbook once.
“It was a moment of truth,” says Gardia. His task is to control 70 students from three groups. “Do they really think they can learn something if they read a textbook on the eve of the test? I must reach out to them so that they understand that it is necessary to study differently. ”
Students see their “participation index” only if the teacher wants them to show it. However, they are all in the know – the books are watching them. For some, the index of the “participation index” becomes a real shock – for example, for the 43-year-old Charles Tejeda. The low score, obtained on the test, meant a little to him, but the low “participation index” unpleasantly surprised him.
“They caught me,” Tejeda says. With two works and three children of the time to study a little – Charles only at night can afford to read a textbook. “Apparently, we’ll have to read it more often,” the student admits.
The owners of the CourseSmart program are such large publishers as Pearson, McGraw-Hill and others. In an effort to consolidate their leadership in the market of digital textbooks, they offered universities a way to track students’ independent work with the book.
Sometimes, teachers in the expression of the student’s face understood – he learned the material or not. Now many classes are virtual, including the class of Mr. Gardia. Teachers, not seeing students, it’s hard to understand how well they worked-CourseSmart will help them in this.
Statistics page in CourseSmart
CourseSmart data will reach publishers – they will be useful to make the necessary changes to the textbooks. Previously, publishers and authors could only dream of such feedback. It makes their efforts more effective, and ultimately, increases direct sales of books. Companies Amazon and Barnes & Noble said that they also plan to receive such data from their readers; However, how they want to dispose of these data, the companies are still silent.
It seems that the pre-digital era, when writers wrote, and publishers published solely on their influx, becomes a symbol of ignorance. “Previously, the publisher did not even suspect that no one reader read the third chapter of a book to the end,” says CourseSmart executive director Sean Devine. Now about three and a half million students and teachers can find out whether they read the third chapter to the end or not. Among the participants of the experiment are the Clemson University, the Technical College of Central Carolina and the University of Stony Brook.
Four-year education at the University of Texas A & M is very prestigious, on the one hand, on the other hand – only half of those enrolled complete this university. If CourseSmart is connected to each class, we will be able to increase this figure, says Dean of the University Dr. Harley.
At the lecture on management, the teacher Gardia invited the students to watch a video in which the director of the printing house gives a shake to his employee, not knowing all the circumstances of the situation. Gardia concludes – the manager must have accurate data. Then the teacher invited the students to analyze the data on their self-preparation, which he sent them the day before by e-mail. It is necessary to study the material more carefully, this is the conclusion of students about their work. However, some students said that CourseSmart did not consider the notes they wrote by hand.
Mr. Gardia also complained about mistakes in the program. So, the student who crammed the material at the last moment, said that he opened the textbook not one, but several times. Well, such is the modern analogue of the complaint that the domestic work was eaten by a dog! In fact, the errors in CourseSmart have not yet been noticed.
Of course, CourseSmart invades in some wayIn the privacy of students. However, they are aware of this and in jest they call the program “Big Brother”. And what’s surprising, because the transparency of privacy has long been part of the world we live in. “Amazon knows more about me than my own mother,” says 51-year-old Carol Johnson, a high-tech specialist. But the technology teacher Training in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Professor Chris Dede, is afraid. “It is necessary to analyze the work of students with a textbook,” he says, “but we must be sure of the high quality of the data that we analyze.” CourseSmart certainly has its own problems. For example, it is enough for a student to leave his digital book open, and now the program seems to read it – while the student can do something completely stranger. “Teachers should not be so naive as to think that students have a large Meaning all these “participation indices,” – warns Professor Dede. CourseSmart says that data collection is just the beginning of a long journey. “We give the student objective information about how he reads the textbook. Sooner or later, students will understand that the “participation index” and success are closely related, “states Sean Divine. Last year student Hillary Torres is fine studying, given that her” participation index “is low. Maybe the abstracts that it makes are not tracked by the program. “If the program sends the teacher information that I do not work with the text, then I’m afraid my image will fall in his eyes,” Hillary says. “If things go this way, I’ll have to reconsider my working habits with the text.” Having worked in the CourseSmart system for a couple of months, the teacher Gardia came to his own conclusions. If earlier students received high scores for tests and he did not worry for them, now high scores are accompanied by a low “participation index”. And this is a weighty reason to think about. “Maybe the course is too easy,” says Gardia, “maybe the textbooks are not too good either.”