A 'Big Brother'-Esque Snooping Program Tells Professors When Students Skip the E-Reading

What the internet giveth, the internet also taketh away.

Thanks to a sneaky new program called CourseSmart, professors will be able to determine how much of the reading each ostensibly dedicated student actually churns through. Professors can track whether their students skip pages, when they read, if they don't use the highlight or note-taking function, or if they open the assigned reading at all.

As dean of the business school at Texas A&M, one of the eight schools currently testing the program, puts it, "It's Big Brother, sort of, but with a good intent."

The Silicon Valley start-up—soon to be known as betrayer of bullshitting college students across academia—was founded by publishers Pearson and McGraw-Hill Education. It has been gathering information from the 3.5 million students and teachers already using the system and plans to expand the tracking program broadly by fall semester 2013.

CourseSmart can present professors with an individual student's "engagement index" for each of the assignments, as well as whole class evaluations. Now, professors might tell the story of how long, long ago, assessing student's completion of the reading relied on the level of 'panicky' they looked after being asked a question or how patient they seemed to be in the face of mind-meltingly boring, stiltedly-translated primary sources.

[New York Times | BetaBeat, image via Wave Break Media/Shutterstock]