Digital textbooks seem like they should be a boon to students. They all fit on a single, thin device. They're (hopefully) cheaper. But dead-tree books beat them out on at least one thing: they won't tattle on you for not doing the assigned reading.
CourseSmart, a big e-textbook publisher, just unveiled a tool called CourseSmart Analytics that can track students' reading habits. Villanova University, Rasmussen College, and Texas A&M University at San Antonio will pilot the tool, which can determine how many pages students read, how much time it took them to read those pages, how many notes they took, and--here's the kicker--how "engaged" they were by the reading, based on those figures. The idea is for professors to look at those numbers and adjust help and attention accordingly.
This will probably be a little controversial. But there is a way to opt out, if you're a student who prefers to study alone.
The textbook companies are in trouble due to Google being much faster and completely free. This sounds like a crazy idea that not many students would want. This sounds worse then having your parents asking you if you've completed your homework but only page by page and then analyzing what you have (or haven't) done.
If the professor can see the notes that have been taken they better be ready to get drawings of all sorts.
Frankly I doubt that many profs will go for this ( especially not engineering :) )
The prevailing thought in colleges has always seemed to be that you want to learn, and they give you the means to do so.
I think that they will stick to measuring their effectiveness by traditional means -- quizzes, tests, homework, in class discussion.
Besides, how long will it be before this system gets hacked.