Friday, January 13, 2012


I checked my email this morning and there's a polite note in there from a student wanting to know about using ebooks. I'm fine with students using ebooks in class, so long as they've got a glossary, notes, line numbers (or page numbers) and are decent editions. The one who emailed indicated that s/he'd be using a computer to read the text and bring it to class.

But here's the question: when I allow open text/open note essay exams, should I allow the computer to be used?

Yes? Sure, the student has been using it all semester and has his/her notes on there!

No? The student has access to the web and that may give an unfair advantage, or worse, the student may plagiarize and it would be a pain in the rear to find plagiarism on a hand written exam. Worse, if the student wanted to type his/her exam, that would seem to invite cutting and pasting.


One of the other things in my inbox came from our teaching center place offering us a class in using something called "Let Me Learn." I don't know what that is, but it sounds opposed to what I usually use, which are books labeled clearly "You are NOT allowed to learn!"

I wonder if the makers have any idea of the different meanings of "let"?

Edited to add: In my effort not to be a closed-minded jerk, I went and found the web site and looked around. And I went through their introductory powerpoint, complete with floaty words (you know, words floating onto the screen) and appearing pictures (the ones that appear in a windmill pattern or whatever).

If someone makes a craptastic powerpoint, do I trust them to teach anything in a useful way? Nope, alas, I don't. You?


  1. Clearly they mean the ME sense of "let," "disallow, prevent," as in the legal phrase "let and hindrance."

  2. I used to give open book, open notes, open computer finals. Everyone in the class brought a laptop, so there wasn't unfair advantage. And they typed their responses and emailed them to me (they were told not to leave the room until they'd verified that I had received it) which meant that I had a much easier time grading -- deciphering handwritten, unspellchecked bluebooks is a pain.

    Leading up to the exam, though, one had to frequently remind them that the ability to copy and paste meant that regurgitation earned no credit

  3. Crappy powerpoint usage should also disqualify you from other things, such as the right to vote.

  4. What you said, Bardiac.