Big Brother’s Reading You

mind-reader2We now know if you’re reading the book.

At least if it’s an e-book.

Scientists are testing a device teachers can use to see if their students have cracked the book—as long as the book is an electronic version.

In a Big Brother twist, the book can read you.

Turns out professors can see if students are spending time reading their assignments.

In one case, a professor discovered a student who was doing well in the class—his grades were solid—but he had only cracked the book once.

The teacher was alarmed, but it strikes me as odd.

Seems to me if a student is doing well then something is working.

If a student is acing assignments but not reading the book, then perhaps the instructor hasn’t done a good job linking the assignments to the readings.

Many of our college courses have online components where we can chat with students via email, where they can check their grades, and they can download materials.

The new software developed by CourseSmart reveals how, when and what students attend to their online materials.

The program can then alert the professor about the student’s habits.

And while I don’t argue there’s a relationship between habits and grades—and maybe this will help some students and some faculty—it just feels creepy that the computer can report to Big Professor how you spend your time.

At least it can’t read your mind.


Here’s the link to the story:

Copyright-free image by Robert Fudd from


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in framing, journalism, science, science communication, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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