So Long, Cliffs Notes: Professors Can Now Monitor Students To See If They Actually Read Digital Textbooks

Man, college kids today have it so hard. I mean, having to go without the experience of crab lice wasn’t tragic enough, now technology is screwing them in that they’ll probably no longer be able to Cliffs Notes their way to a degree. Suck to be you, college kids.

Reports the New York Times:

Several Texas A&M professors know something that generations of teachers could only hope to guess: whether students are reading their textbooks.

They know when students are skipping pages, failing to highlight significant passages, not bothering to take notes — or simply not opening the book at all.

The faculty members here are neither clairvoyant nor peering over shoulders. They, along with colleagues at eight other colleges, are testing technology from a Silicon Valley start-up, CourseSmart, that allows them to track their students’ progress with digital textbooks.

Major publishers in higher education have already been collecting data from millions of students who use their digital materials. But CourseSmart goes further by individually packaging for each professor information on all the students in a class — a bold effort that is already beginning to affect how teachers present material and how students respond to it, even as critics question how well it measures learning. The plan is to introduce the program broadly this fall.

If I ever write a memoir on my college years I’m going to title it “Cliffs Notes and Crabs.” Automatic bestselling!

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