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09:59 AM

Automated Essay Grading Software Stirs Debate

Some educators say the benefits of EdX's writing-grading software have been over-hyped. But I see a role for automation in the classroom.

I appreciate that English teachers fret about societal pressure on schools to quit creating well-informed citizens and instead create tech- and math-savvy workers. It's a clear blow to the value of the humanities. I understand that Elijah Mayfield secretly wishes the New York Times had written an article about his automated writing assessment startup, Lightside Lab.

But automating essay grading helps English teachers. And in his post, Mayfield comments that "this technology isn't replacing teachers; it's enabling them to get students help, practice and experience with writing that the education field has never seen before, and without machine learning technology, will never see."

Funny, that's sounds just like EdX's goal, too.

Whether it's EdX, Lightside or somebody else, we need to applaud them and push them forward. I occasionally teach journalism and would love to throw a tool at students that could help them with grammar and basic textual analysis of their style. The tools aren't ready, or at least, the EdX tool is not.

We need them. Our time as teachers is best spent on other things.

Michael B. Horn, executive director of the Clayton Christensen Institute's education program, told me via email that "automatic scoring can do several things very well and the technology is improving. Where the alternative is nothing, it is ideal, because it will be infinitely better and not compete directly against human graders."

We fear being automated out of the workforce, but we also fantasize about how technology will spare us from the drudgery and toil of subsistence living, be it wishing elves would hand-stitch shoes for us, magic beans would help us escape from a life breaking our backs digging furrows with hoes or, yes, that we could automate Strunk and White.

When we've got that last bit down, it will be high time to kick our feet up and take a well-deserved nap.

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User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 9:45:31 AM
Interesting, my opinion is
I personally like the idea of an automated grading tool, because I think the benefits are two fold, in that they remove prejudice from grading, which is still a major issue and they always make things more clear and cut, there's no grey area, people will know exactly what they've gotten wrong and why. All these applications are the future anyway, as time progresses, we may even transistion to internet schooling.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2014 | 10:57:41 AM
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User Rank: Apprentice
4/3/2014 | 1:36:03 AM
Re: Thanks
My friend wrote a story about his cat that was grammatically correct,and used big words, but made little to no sense. The auto-grader program told him he was approaching PHD level English. So he took his paper into school and showed it to the English teachers who reviled at it. He was like,"Show's what you know, the computer told me I'm university level."How To Get Dissertation Writing Service
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User Rank: Apprentice
3/22/2014 | 1:53:02 AM
Ya i have check your provided link Education is like other sectors in that technology can -- and should -- be used to leverage what people do best. When technology like this is done well, it can be a boon to teachers and students,

User Rank: Author
12/24/2013 | 9:44:32 AM
re: Automated Essay Grading Software Stirs Debate
Automated scoring for writing has been around for a few years now. I wrote about the debate on the issue in 2012 in Automated Systems 'Grade' Written Work
User Rank: Apprentice
12/16/2013 | 9:16:52 AM
re: Automated Essay Grading Software Stirs Debate
Essay grading is informative article and good post.Essay Boutique
User Rank: Apprentice
12/14/2013 | 12:40:57 PM
re: Automated Essay Grading Software Stirs Debate
One thing I just want to say is that your blog is so perfect.Commercial approaches to essay grading.coursework writing service uk "order coursework now "need coursework
Michael Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald,
User Rank: Moderator
8/9/2013 | 1:54:48 PM
re: Automated Essay Grading Software Stirs Debate
here's a link to an interesting blog post by Vik Paruchuri, quoted in the story above, about the commercial and non-commercial approaches to essay grading.
Thx, juliep840
User Rank: Apprentice
8/8/2013 | 4:14:55 PM
re: Automated Essay Grading Software Stirs Debate
See also this same debate playing out in the medical field:
User Rank: Apprentice
8/6/2013 | 7:00:38 PM
re: Automated Essay Grading Software Stirs Debate
I know Pearson's WriteToLearn is still actively being sold and is in use in schools. ETS, as I recall, licensed its Criterion service, based on its E-Rater engine, to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for use in its digital products in K-12 and still offers it directly for other education segments. Vantage Learning's My Access product, based on its IntelliMetric engine, appears to still be available for school and home. (I found active pages for each via Google.)

Side note: Oddly, the harder task is not so much providing good feedback on essays, it's being able to do the same with short answers. That's sort of the Holy Grail of automated text scoring, and I don't know of any organization that has been able to comprehensively nail that.
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