Audrey Watters is a writer who’s worked in the education field for the past 15 years: as a graduate student, college instructor, and program manager for an ed-tech non-profit. Although two chapters into her Comparative Literature dissertation, Audrey decided to abandon academia, and she now happily fulfills the one job recommended by a junior high aptitude test: freelance writer. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Edutopia, MindShift, Fast Company, Inside Higher Ed, The School Library Journal, O’Reilly Radar, ReadWriteWeb, Campus Technology, and The Huffington Post, in addition to her own blog Hack Education. She’s the editor of a new publication aimed at school leaders called Educating Modern Learners, which explores the ways in which technology can work in the service of progressive education and student-directed learning. She is also currently working on a book called Teaching Machines. Teaching Machines explores the cultural history of automation in education. This drive is not simply a technological or scientific or pedagogical development, but a profoundly cultural one. How have we conceptualized the mechanics of human intelligence, for example, and how has that shaped the way in which we imagine and build so-called intelligent machines? How do teaching machines work — do teaching machines work? And whose work, whose labor, might they replace or enhance? Do teaching machines offer “personalization” or merely a more efficient standardization? Why have we been so keen for so long to automate teaching and learning? What does this say about our vision of the purpose, let alone the future of education?

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