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The History of Teaching Machines

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Audrey Watters is a journalist interested in the intersections of education and technology. As part of her blog, Hack Education, Watters has created the History of Teaching Machines: an interactive timeline that traces educational technology all the way back to 1866, when Halcyon Skinner patented a machine for teaching spelling. In 1912, Columbia University psychologist Edward Thorndike envisioned a mechanical textbook in which, "only to him who had done what was directed on page one would page two become visible." This timeline incorporates a wide variety of fascinating primary documents (including a 1930 advertisement for a "New Automatic Testing Machine for Testing and Teaching" and a 1955 video clip of B.F. Skinner explaining his teaching machine) to illustrate that while technology may be a hot topic of conversation in education circles, it isn't a new one. Many timeline entries are also accompanied by links to longer essays that delve into the history of educational technology in greater detail.
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Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication 2018-02-16
Archived Scout Publication URL https://scout.wisc.edu/report/2018/0216

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