I first saw the announcement of these electronic study guides and naively thought of how valuable it would be to students to have audio excerpts of some of the key parts of the literature they were studying.
I keep making these mind trips back to the year I spent as a 12th grade English teacher. I remember using the Monarch Notes extensively to help my students follow the complexities of the Dante’s Inferno. (This was long before resources like TeachersFirst helped translate the complex allusions and obscure references into activities that would engage 12th graders.)
This Chronicle article focuses on the more negative aspects of the technology to enable electronic “crib sheets”:
The guides released by SparkNotes and iPREPpress are compatible with most iPods — including the new video-playing model and the iPod Nano, which has a screen about the size of a postage stamp. That could be bad news for professors, who may worry that such small devices could easily become digital cheat sheets in the hands of unscrupulous students.
Mr. Goszyk conceded that iPods loaded with study guides could be smuggled into classrooms. “I think anytime you’ve got something — whether it’s technology or just a slip of paper — that you could sneak into the classroom, those people who are going to want to cheat are going to cheat,” he said.
Professors whose reading lists include works like Pride and Prejudice or The Odyssey may have to police their classrooms carefully on exam day, Mr. Goszyk said.
Will Richardson offered an alternative to more careful policing in the piece I wrote about yesterday.
… they take the ideas we have tried to teach them and connect them to and show us that they can teach it to someone else with their own spin on it, their own remix.
If we can figure out assignments that help stduents do that, we don’t have to worry about postage stamp screens displaying the contents of the Cliff Notes