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Welcome to The Learning Hack, a podcast about the people and technologies that are shaping the future of learning.

Jul 19, 2021

Audrey Watters' new book, Teaching Machines, tells the story of how two academics, Sidney Pressey in the 1920s and B.F. Skinner in the 1950s, attempted to develop and market mechanical devices for learning. John talks to Audrey about the book and explores the reasons why both of these pioneers of pre-computer learning technology, ultimately, failed.
In the book Audrey Watters, who describes herself as 'an education writer, an independent scholar, a serial dropout, a rabble-rouser, and ed-tech's Cassandra', also draws comparisons with today's technologists, and sees the pervasive influence of B.F. Skinner at work in their attempts to use personalization as a means of control.
00:00 - Intro
03:06 - B. F. Skinner and his teaching machine
08:30 - Sidney Pressey’s teaching machine, 1920s
18:38 - Did B.F. Skinner really raise his daughter in a box
21:50 - Why has personalization of education not happened? 28:06 - What technologists get wrong about education
39:03 - What has been her personal journey in learning?
The Book: Teaching Machines: The History of Personalized Learning
Follow Audrey
Twitter: @audreywatters
Contact John Helmer
Twitter: @johnhelmer
Download the new white paper from Learning Pool written by John Helmer & Ben Betts – Suite Dreams: The Past, Present and Future of Learning Systems