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Friday, April 5, 2013

Besides, a Computer Will Never Replicate My Sarcasm

Big news out of Massachusetts, a joint venture between MIT and Harvard has led to the creation of educational software that actually reads and offers instant feedback on student essays!  "The software uses artificial intelligence to grade student essays and short written answers, freeing professors for other tasks."  According to the article, though, not everyone is pleased: "[C]ritics of the technology have tended to come from the nation’s best universities, where the level of pedagogy is much better than at most schools."

OK, first of all, fuck you very much.  The quality of pedagogy at the nation's "best" colleges and universities is often of dubious merit, as superstar professors are recruited as much--strike that--more for their name recognition than for any inherent ability to teach.

Second of all, "freeing professors for other tasks"?  What other tasks?!?  Last time I checked, responding to student writing was basically the job description--half of it, anyway.  As tedious as it sometimes is, reading a student's work is the only way for a teacher to understand whether a student is truly grasping the material.  Particularly in writing classes, of course, but in all manner of other subjects as well.  And frankly, the individualized feedback I provide to my students comprises at least half of the instruction I provide.  Class lectures allow me to convey broad concepts, but only by carefully examining a student's syntactical idiosyncrasies and logical development (or lack thereof) can I or any writing teacher offer a complete educational experience.

Free us up for other tasks? No thanks.  I'm perfectly happy being "burdened" as I am.

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