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Digital Textbooks Inform Teachers About Student Engagement

By Deborah Williams

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Technology is advancing so quickly that it is changing almost overnight—or so it seems.  David Streitfeld, New York Times writer, reports in his article that new technology helps college professors know how much, if at all, their students are reading their textbooks.

CourseSmart textbooks have been piloted by some professors at Texas A&M, and it has provided useful data.  These digital textbooks allow professors to measure their students’ “engagement index.”  The technology can track whether or not students are “highlight[ing] significant passages, not bothering to take notes—or simply not opening the book at all.”   Professors compared students with a high engagement index with those who don’t, and, not surprisingly, those with a high engagement index performed better in class.

Students don’t know that their engagement index is available for their professors, but professors use a student’s data to show underperforming students how their lack of engagement affects their performance in that class.

This is just one of the ways that digital textbooks are changing how students can engage with their content.  Learn more about how this new technology is creating a ways to use textbooks:

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