Do you like the idea of your professors being able to keep track of what you read, when you read and how much you read? If you answered no to any or all of those questions, you might not like what you’re about to read below.

Brian McVicar of MLive reports.

Big Brother on campus? Students have mixed reaction to new e-textbook technology

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Chelsea Bashore is a fan of e-textbooks – they’re lighter, more portable and sometimes cheaper than traditional books.

But the 23-year-old education major would think twice before purchasing one if it gave her professor the ability to monitor her reading habits.

“You always want to assess your students, but I think tracking what they read is kind of creepy,” Bashore said.

A new breed of e-textbook set to be piloted at three U.S. colleges gives instructors previously unseen levels of access to how students interact with electronic course materials – what pages they read, how much time they spent reading, even what passages they highlighted.

The technology, created by textbook giant CourseSmart, is being pitched as a way to improve teaching by giving instructors the ability to reach out to students who don’t appear to be reading or using other electronic course materials.

The company also says it will help instructors fine-tune lesson plans, better critique student performance and give advice tailored to individual students about how to study better.

When asked to weigh-in on the idea, college students in the Grand Rapids area were split in their reactions.

Some, such as Bashore, raised privacy concerns.

Others thought the technology could be beneficial, and weren’t troubled by privacy concerns, saying many of their fellow students already share the details of their lives through social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Bill Jerow, a junior at GVSU studying biomedical sciences, thinks the technology would motivate students to do their reading.

“If the students knew ahead of time, I don’t have a problem with it,” said Jerow, 38. “That might make the student say, ‘I need to be more accountable.’”