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Teaching Machines

A Hack Education Project

Joy Lisi Rankin’s book A People’s History of Computing in the United States tells a story that runs counter to what she describes as the “Silicon Valley mythology”: “This compelling myth tells us that, once upon a time, modern computers were big (and maybe even bad) mainframes. International Business Machines,...

Earlier this spring, I posted a request, asking for The Internet to help me track down Norman A. Crowder, someone I’d hoped to make one of the key characters in Teaching Machines. Six+ months later, I’m really no closer to finding out more details about him. Yes, I’ve made some...

I can tell that it’s almost time for me to turn from research to writing. I’m dreaming about the book. I dream about its organization. I dream about the acknowledgements. I dream about what primary documents are left to track down and to read. I dream about how I’m going...

Update: Thank you to everyone who has offered to send me the PDFs of the four articles below. I still need to figure out how I will get my hands on a bunch of similarly non-digitized stuff. But for now, I have been well take-care-of. This isn’t a “lazy web”...

I wrapped up my research at ETS today. Honestly, yesterday was the big day in terms of uncovering materials that are pertinent to my book. Today was one of those bonus days, where one finds a bunch of stuff that makes one say “Oh, I want to write a book...

I arrived at Landgraf Hall a little earlier today, but archival research is hard work, and I’ve left a little earlier too. My back is killing me. But I made huge progress today through the materials that I was hoping to find – letters to and from Reynold Johnson documenting...

I’m in Princeton, New Jersey this week at the Educational Testing Service headquarters where Ben D. Wood’s papers are housed. I’m here primarily to look into some of IBM’s teaching machine history, and Wood – who was a professor at Columbia as well as the head of ETS – served...

Cross-posted at 2018trends.hackeducation.com For the last eight years, I’ve spent all of November and December writing my infamous “Year in Reviews,” analyzing all the dominant narratives that have been floated about the future of education and ed-tech. I’m working on Teaching Machines this year, I’m rather loathe to interrupt that...

One of the things I probably need to define in the book is “what counts” as a teaching machine. I’d rather do so as broadly as possible without losing any meaning or significance to the phrase. In more ways than one, it’s a minefield, and I already get snide comments...

I’ve spent much of the last week preparing a talk I delivered today to a class at the University of South Florida. You can read it here. It’s a bit rambling, no doubt, but it’s helped me start to think about how central B. F. Skinner is to the book...