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'To Be, or Not to Be... '

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"To be, or not to be... "

What the hell kind of question is that?

Poor sentence structure -- not clear... to be what?... or not to be what?

No one talks that way, Will! Write it over or you will never get anywhere... don't worry, we will help you develop it the right way...

Imagine that William Shakespeare had to submit his prose to a new software grading system developed by edX, "that uses artificial intelligence to grade student essays and short written answers, freeing professors for other tasks."

According to Anant Agarwal, the president of edX (a nonprofit joint venture of Harvard and MIT) and by the way, an electrical engineer, students should not have to wait days or weeks to receive their grades. Instant feedback will help them learn quicker/better, and the ability to submit and resubmit until they get it right makes a powerful tool.

"O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?"

Romeo? What kind of name is that, Will? And why repeat it? No, no. Keep at it... you will get it right...

Dr. Agarwal was quoted as saying "there is a huge value in learning with instant feedback. Students are telling us they learn much better with instant feedback."

Yes, and no doubt that is true. Put your hand on a hot stove and the point is made...

And, clearly multiple-choice tests have always been about quick feedback to level set knowledge gains... but getting the facts right does not equate to wisdom.

Nor does having a computer grade essays -- which are reflections (or should be) not of knowledge as in facts... but of wisdom... synthesizing facts and a million other variables into something unique and wonderful, and human.

Frankly, I can't imagine what is more important for a teacher/professor to do than to be individual with every individual -- even if it takes time -- that's the point of teaching, no?

Do we want to create generations of homogenized people -- who write and think and dream the same way?

Software can be magic, but at the end of the day software is only loops of code and routines that interact with the data it encounters. And the written word is not data -- not in that sense.

We are losing perspective here. The beauty of humankind is that we all have that little bit of unpredictability, that edge of what the hell, that carpe diem ability that confounds the best shopping software and drives impulse purchases -- not to mention creates Shakespeares and Einsteins and you and me.

Read about edX, see what you think -- I find the premise wrong and the output dangerous and counterproductive.

Imagine if your first kiss had been graded on a computer, or your first... you get the point... !

In a "big data" world where more and more tech leaders are calling for more and more human insight, I find this so-called "advance" to be way out of touch.

Listen:

"I would trade all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates." Steve Jobs

And lucky for us edX never graded Socrates....

"In the beginning...."

God! God... will you ever learn to write?

What do you think?

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