We have all witnessed technology being integrated in school more and more, but a new start-up called CourseSmart is taking this integration to a whole new level. The CourseSmart technology allows professors to track the progress of all their students on their online textbook readings; so now professors will have a definite way of being able to tell if you read the assigned reading. Many students who are using this program are calling it “Big Brother-like”. The professors can also see how much each student highlighted in the online book and how many notes each of them took. After taking into account all of those aspects, the program then generates a “grade” called the engagement index. The big questions that I have are how accurate is this engagement index and do we really need it.
A major problem that comes with dehumanizing tasks is that there are more ways to beat the system. There are also things that technology can’t take into consideration that a human can. CourseSmart is very vulnerable to these flaws and student reviews have proven so. One major downside to this program is that it can’t count notes taken by hand or on a word document as notes, therefore if someone prefers taking notes by hand, their engagement index is unfairly hurt. However, a student’s index can be inflated if they leave their textbook open for a long time while doing something else, or if they highlight random passages throughout the text. So as you can see, this technology can be taken advantage of and also work against students who are doing all their work. This brings me to my final point; is all this new technology in schools necessary.
When can we say enough is enough when it comes to bringing new technology into schools? After all, the only true way to see if students are actually reading is by evaluating how they do on their homework, quizzes, and tests. Why do we need a program to keep track of how much we are “reading” when the professor will be able to figure out who is reading based on grades. It comes to a point where it seems as though we are using all these new technologies just because we can, not necessarily because they better education. I am all for using technology if it can perform a task more efficiently or much cheaper than a human can, but I don’t see that in this new program. I believe we really need to rethink why we are integrating technology into school.