Audrey Watters

education writer, recovering academic, serial dropout, ed-tech’s Cassandra, author of The Monsters of Education Technology. (And coming soon: Teaching Machines)

Don’t Go Back to School… Or Do

As the chorus crescendos, “Don’t go back to school,” I’m fairly happy to sing along.

I mean, I didn’t finish high school in the U.S. (I was sent to school in the U.K. instead), dropped out of college (then got pregnant), finished my Bachelors with my baby (then toddler) in my arms, went to grad school (LOL), and proceeded to drop out of a PhD

How Steve Jobs Brought the Apple II to the Classroom

“Education is deep in Apple’s DNA,” the company’s senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller said on stage at a press event in 2012 as Apple unveiled a number of new education-oriented features for the iPad. It was the first such event following the death of Steve Jobs, and the Walter Isaacson biography of Jobs had hinted that…

The History of the Future of Education

This talk was first was delivered at Ryerson University’s ChangSchoolTalks

It’s a refrain throughout my work: we are suffering from an amnesia of sorts, whereby we seem to have forgotten much of the history of technology. As such, we now tell these stories about the past, present, and future whereby all innovations emerge from…

The Horizon Report: A History of Ed-Tech Predictions

For over a decade now, the New Media Consortium has issued an annual Horizon Report, detailing the six technologies that it predicts will soon impact colleges and universities. These predictions identify emerging technologies on three “horizons”: four to five years, two to three years, and one year or less.

(25 Years Ago) The First School One-to-One Laptop Program

February 12 marks the 25th anniversary of the first school one-to-one laptop program. That is, one computing device for each student.

Contrary to a narrative that posits education technology is new and all education technology innovation originates in Cupertino, California (that is, Apple’s headquarters) or…

Education Technology and Skinner’s Box

The Rise of Programmed Instruction

In the 1948 utopian novel Walden Two, a small group — a couple of academics, two of…

The Automatic Teacher

“For a number of years the writer has had it in mind that a simple machine for automatic testing of intelligence or information was entirely within the realm of

The First Teaching Machines

B. F. Skinner is often credited as the inventor of the “teaching machine.” While no doubt the phrase is often associated with his name and with his behaviorist theories, he was hardly the first person to design a machine for teaching. But identifying who was “the first” poses a challenge, in part because it depends on how “teaching machine” is defined. It depends…

Speak & Spell: A History

Toys as Teaching Machines

The Speak & Spell — one of the most iconic toys of the 1980s — is a teaching machine.

Multiple Choice and Testing Machines: A History

Why multiple choice? It’s a question that’s plagued me for a long time, particularly as someone who grew up with one foot in the American and one foot in the British education system. (The former involved a lot of multiple choice testing; the latter, almost none.)

Draw Me: A History of MOOCs

Correspondence Courses and the Pre-History of MOOCs

I’m currently working on an essay on the pre-history of MOOCs — from…