For some time now I’ve worked on an essay titled “Disrupted by Algorithms”. I’m not ready to publish it yet, but the general direction of the essay is a focus on how technology (the algorithms) might do a better job (or more efficient job) at teaching some things than, well, myself as a teacher. Especially lower level, rote learning.

As an educator, I find this incredibly liberating. But somewhat scary. My value as an educator is in crafting a compelling narrative that engages students and directs them in the learning process.

Anyway, I keep seeing little bits in my home life proving the power of the algorithms. Take spelling words. Remember how we used to learn spelling words? You’d create flashcards, write them 10 times on a neat line, have your parents quiz you on the proper way to spell those words.

Now we have the iPad and the Aplus spelling app. The general gist of the app is

  1. Create the spelling words set
  2. Record yourself saying the words
  3. Let the app turn the list in games, quizzes, and fun practice for your daughter. Fold laundry while they do “homework” in a fun way.

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September 18, 2012

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