Describe and discuss one or two elements from the Bates or Watters chapters that allowed you to think deeper about your past or present teaching.

The history of the future of ed-tech. The refrain of this talk: new
technologies are easy to develop; new behaviors and new cultures are not.

Throughout my learning and teaching career in Jamaica, one of the methods to assess what students have learnt was through the administration of exams (internally – at the grade level and within the school; externally – within the region and island wide).  Multiple choice test items were always a part of the way exam papers were set up.  As a kid, I enjoyed doing them, but when I became a teacher I had mixed feelings about them.  I think that they do not allow points to be awarded to a child who has partial correct thoughts about a given question and as a result, made some students feel as if they were dumb when they realized the got the answer incorrect.

Watter spoke about the “machine to score intelligence,” which was developed by Sidney Pressey.  This machine was used to determine the eligibility to enlist individuals into the military.  From this machine the invention of multiple choice questions begun and teachers used their own modifications of this concept to test students on their level of intelligence.  A lot of my past colleagues argued that multiple choice testing was never a true reflection of the students’ capabilities, but it was the best way to manage their time in terms of “the amount of the time spent grading papers,” since they were marked by a machine.

As teachers, should we be concerned more about time spent on grading papers or should we be more focused on the concepts our students have learnt?  Yes, short answers and essays are indeed more time consuming in regards to grading. However, it gives a clearer picture of what each child understands, so that we can re-teach concepts if needed, know the strengths and weaknesses of each child, so that we can better prepare our lesson to cater to the needs of each individual within our classroom.


Watters, A. (2014). The hidden history of ed-tech. In The monsters of
education technology (pp. 7-31). Vancouver, BC: Tony Bates Associates Ltd.
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