Essay-Grading Software makes Professors a Slack Job

Description: Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the “send” button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program.


Date: April 4, 2013


The new service will bring the educational consortium into a growing conflict over the role of automation in education. Although automated grading systems for multiple-choice and true-false tests are now widespread, the use of artificial intelligence technology to grade essay answers has not yet received widespread endorsement by educators and has many critics.

Anant Agarwal, an electrical engineer who is president of EdX, predicted that the instant-grading software would be a useful pedagogical tool, enabling students to take tests and write essays over and over and improve the quality of their answers. He said the technology would offer distinct advantages over the traditional classroom system, where students often wait days or weeks for grades.  READ REST OF STORY

 Questions for discussion:

1. Comment on the following statement “The technology is available therefore we should be using it?”

2. What do you see as the two biggest benefits of this technology and what do you see as the two biggest detriments to using this technology?


30 thoughts on “Essay-Grading Software makes Professors a Slack Job

  1. Mark(Xiangyuan Ma)

    I disagree with “The technology is available therefore we should be using it.” It exist does not mean we should use it. Lots of technicals exist but have not been used in nowadays because they are not good enough and need to be improved. And this software definetly need to be improved. Essay is not as same as multiple choice. There is only one correct answer for a multiple choice. However, there is more than one acceptable answer for an essay. Also, there are a lot of personal opinions and emotional factors in an essay, which a system can not understand, at least not now. Thats why I think the professors need to read the essay and score it instead of a program. I admit that this technology can score much faster than human and can figure out more grammar mistakes; nevertheless, those are not the only standard to score an essay. I believe that the main purpose of writing an essay is to encourage student to analysis the information and write it out by student’s own words. Furthermore, it can encourage student to be creative and think an event from different ways. Those are the things a program can not achieve. Therefore, I do not think we should use this technology.

  2. Hayden Rintoul

    I disagree with the comment “the technology is there so we should be using it”. I believe that if the technology created helps better off what is trying to be accomplished then yes I think that we can go ahead and use it. On the other hand if the technology created has flaws and doesn’t seem quite up to par then it should definitely not be used until these problems are fixed.

    As far as benefits go for this technology it would free up massive amounts of time for professors to be helping students correct their mistakes instead of a good chunk of their time being taken up by marking the papers. Personally I enjoy getting my marks back as soon as I can and if I had some issues on the test or paper then I would be more inclined to go see the teacher to fix the issues for an upcoming test or paper where as if the paper came back a couple weeks later I seemed less inclined to fix my mistakes.

    The disadvantages of this technology is that students would learn how to create papers that get good marks from the “artificial intelligence” markers instead of actually knowing how to write a paper that would be read by a human being and be understood by them. With that being said people would figure out cheats or ways around this marking system and be able to write flawless papers without actually learning anything.

  3. Nothando Ngwenya

    There is a reason why computers are referred to as “artificial intelligence” and that is because they are exactly that…artificial in the intelligence that they portray. For a being to be called intelligence, that being needs to have a mind, a brain…this is one thing that computers do not have. Everything that a human being has comes as a source of nature;people are born with these qualities, whereas, computers and other forms of intelligence come as a result of natural human intelligence and will, therefore always be second best. When one steps into a university classroom, one expects to gain knowledge from either a more intelligent or more knowledgeable being. This is a task that can only be fulfilled through direct human interaction and not that of humans and machines.I, therefore, believe that computers should not be used for the grading of essays or any work of that nature.As was stated in the article, a computer does not have a brain, it has not the ability to analyse the meaning of words or phrases, or to justify the meaning of work put before it. This means that students will not be empowered in any way…as a matter of fact, even the institutions that are said to be the best may decline to being the worst if they rely on the use of machinery to grade students work. Throughout history students have been writing essays and waiting for their professors to mark them and hand them back in whenever they are done with the marking process. This has been resulting in hard working, critical thinking, knowledgeable beings of higher intelligence being key members of society and this has helped the world advance in the way that it has through the years. With the use of computers, students who are able to resubmit their work until they get it right are not given the incentive to actually think anything through and make the best decisions there are to make upon submitting a second piece of work, This will result in students who are lazy thinkers and a society that is ruled by machinery-artificial intelligence, instead of the society using this intelligence to help make their processing of tasks an lighter burden. The fact that there is technology out there waiting to be used does not mean that it needs to be used. The use of this technology does not guarantee great results either…as a matter of fact, less use of technology may be what is needed to help students excel in their courses. An example of this is the great results that are produced in certain third world countries that either cannot or will not use technology for every bit of work they have to do. An example is the country Zimbabwe…the tertiary institutions in that country use technology mainly for the sole purpose of students writing essays and yet many graduates from those institutions are found to be valuable in most nations in the world-the western world even-and not just in Zimbabwe. This is due to the fact that students are able to discuss grading reasons with their professors, amongst other things. I, therefore believe that using machinery to grade is not a necessity and can be ignored in many instances.

  4. Britney Anderson

    “The technology is available; therefore we should be using it.” I strongly disagree with this statement. There are many beneficial technologies that exist that have the potential to simplify processes and improve people’s lives. However, just because a technology exists, does not mean that everyone should use it. Before a technology is widely adopted, its costs and benefits must be evaluated. If the benefits do not exceed the costs, the technology should not be implemented. I think that the use of essay-grading software will actually harm the writing process and the learning that is involved. Everyone learns differently, and what works well for one student may not work well for another. I know that I would not like to receive feedback about my writing assignments from a computer. Throughout high school and my time at the university, I have learned a lot of valuable help and insight on how to write a good paper from my teachers and professors. A machine can interact with a student in the same way that a professor can, and cannot teach students to appreciate the English language.

    The article mentioned that the software allows students to “[resubmit their] work until they get it right.” This statement is concerning, because the software can negatively transform the learning process into a “game” in which students attempt to trick or beat the software, in order to receive the highest grade possible. Students may make changes to their papers, even if these changes do not improve the student’s mechanics or further develop their ideas, for the sake of a better grade.

    Some of the benefits of this essay-grading software include more timely feedback for students and cost savings for schools educational institutions, as it reduces the amount of time professors spend grading students’ written work. On the other hand, some of the costs of this technology involve a loss of human interaction in the learning process and accuracy issues. The marking of an essay involves a degree of subjectivity. As such, a machine lacks the subjective component of a human marker. Thus, the software cannot mark an essay with 100% accuracy.

  5. sophia burgess

    This statement has validity is some cases but in others it simply does not. Not everything needs technology nor does technology always have to be used. In this case, I think its ridiculous that this technology could be used in schools in the future. I believe everyone has their duties or roles and as a professor one of their roles is to mark and critique papers. Simply putting papers through a system seems lazy and inaccurate as some people said in the article.

One of the biggest benefits of this technology is that it provides grade very quickly. Often times in university, especially if it is a large class getting a paper back can take a long time. Also, sometimes there is no real critique on the paper or feedback which could help the student learn from their mistakes and do better the next time. The second benefit would be that students can keep trying the questions over and over till they get it right.Being able to correct your answers helps to get a better grade so why not.
One detriment to this technology is that students cannot connect with their professors. Its nice to be able to talk with a professor about the paper you have written and why you got the grade you received.Another detriment would be getting a low score on a paper. The EdX may not mark the paper efficiently.

  6. Bayo

    In regards to the statement “The technology is available therefore we should be using it?” I strongly do not believe that just because the technology is available we need to use it.
    There are millions of technologies that are available but do not and have not reached its expected goal. As much as I believe technology generally should be embraced, I believe it should be embraced at a stage where it has been proved to achieve its goal with little negative impact. Such is the essay grading software which is a good technology with remarkable growth , helping professors to save time and also ensuring essays are graded in a uniform manner considering the mind of humans can vary in emotions and state, where as the software would not be prone to any form of emotional fluctuations’, biased views and a lot more.
    As much as I believe this technology should be embraced and implemented into more areas of education, I don’t think it has gotten to that stage of artificial intelligence.
    One major benefit is that you don’t have to worry about the emotional state of your professor when going through your essay. And professors would have a wider reach of students to attend to.

  7. Karleen Clark

    In regards to question one: In class today (feb 26) we watched a video about a couple who worked using a wide variety of technological devices. They worked in the morning in bed, on the drive to work, at work, and after work. They went so far as to say they don’t even have real conversations at home anymore – rather they email or IM each other from separate rooms in their house. In this example they used the technology that was provided to them to achieve a higher level of work, but at the expense of the benefits of human to human contact. It makes me think of the book Into the Wild where he experiences so many cool things in nature and life, but without anyone by his side. He ends up dying alone and he quotes “Happiness is only real when shared.” There is no room for sharing with other people when your computer is in the way.
    In regards to question two: A clear benefit of this technology would be efficiency. Not only does it eliminate the need for a human to mark, but also provides instant feedback. Markers are not spending hours on multiple essays and students are not waiting on feedback from markers. Another benefit would be that professors would be more willing to branch beyond multiple choice questions. A deterrent from essay questions is the time it takes to mark them, so if that was eliminated students would see less multiple choice and more essay questions. This challenges students and forces them to think critically.
    I think a disadvantage is the lack of human contact. It is very beneficial to hearing criticism, and praise, from a human. If a computer tells you how to be better it may not have the same affect as if it is personally given to you. There is a disconnect between human’s and computers that would lead students to not take things as seriously. Secondly, there probably won’t be computers marking your work in the real world. Post-secondary school should be set up to prepare students to work effectively in the work force.

  8. Devin Gerstenbuhler

    Just because a technology is available doesn’t necessarily mean we should be using it. With an extreme example, and of course beckoning debate, should we have used nuclear weapons in world war two just because we had the technology? As far as the modern example of machines doing traditionally human based jobs more efficiently, ethics plays a huge part. Is it really utilizing technology? Or is it educational bureaucrat trying to save a dollar by cutting the costly expense of pulsing markers? Going in a different direction, writing is about communication. One of the main things that every 15 year old attending grade 10 high school English learns is: catering to your audience. Like any other form of communication, when we write we have several things to consider: who will be the reader? What will they think? What are the implications of my words? (And largely, what will they grade me)? Regardless, communication is a skill that develops over a lifetime, and learning to write what your teachers want to hear is one of the biggest latent things learnt throughout school. If I’m writing a paper that I know is going to be read by a brick wall with antennas, how I’m I supposed to adjust my rhetoric? The answer is I cant. The human element in marking develops the communicating skill of the writer.
    Two biggest benefits: cost reduction and timely feedback (as stated in the article was a huge benefit to learning)
    Two biggest cons: job loss, potential accuracy loss

  9. Onyinyechi Dikeocha

    At the end of the day, innovative technology will continue to spring up and will probably never stop. The question should be, how good is this technology in rendering its services for whatever task or activity it was actually created for? Using this new software because it is available should not be the reason why schools go ahead in adopting it. It should instead stream from the question on how effective this software will be on actually exhibiting its positive potentials of making learning better for the students or how it will affect the jobs of professors. Is it perfect enough in grading these essays and how are the outcome of the student’s performance after feedbacks have been given by the software? These are the questions to ask and then used in making a decision on whether to use it in institutions rather than just using it because it is available for use.
    To answer the second question, I can understand its aim of making learning better for students which will really help in improving a lot of essay hating students because I know there are such students that exist. This is a major benefit, because it gives you the opportunity of actually re-doing the paper if it did not agree with the views of the professor. Second benefit is easing the busy work load of professors and I am sure they will be needed in many institutions. However, the down side to this is how accurate is this software. Human and machine think differently. When grading an essay, there are many times when the views of the professor is not needed. Rather the point of view of the student is what is important. How would that then be graded? It would be very difficult. A second down side is trying to get machines to become humans. From my own point of view, I agree on making life easy, however, from this creation and probably more to come, this is just another step in letting computers take jobs because, if we can have online classes, multiple choice exams can be marked and now essays can also be graded by a software, very soon, we would not be needing professor or instructors. We would probably be learning from computers. What then happens to employment in the economy?

  10. DongkaiZhang

    My opinion about the first question:

    Every new technology is available because that this new technology was create for one special need or a general need. We would like to take time and money to create, learn, use ,and develop a new technology is not because this technology is available. People use some “input” to create, use , and develop a new technology is because people want to get more output than the input.

    My opinion about the second question:

    The two biggest benefits is saving time and reducing cost.

    However, time and money is the two basic factors to a sacksful and effective higher education system.

    The two biggest detriments is waste time and create social cost.

    With using the new system, students will get chance to improve the skill of answer question but not solve question.

    From the story, I find that the higher education problem is not just happened in china, but also happened in west world. both students and teacher pay too much attention on the great of the exams and homework. that because we both think that the best way to judge a student is the greats. we should know that a better way always could be found if we believe it is true. the essay is just a tool that could help people to learn not the reason why we should learn.

    a great higher education may be like this:

    teacher tell students the question and the answer come from the people before. and students use their way to solve the question. students may get the same answer with the people before, but they also may find a different or a better answer. this the reason why we have higher education.

  11. Loraine MenicocheMoses

    It seems to be a good statement to say that since “the technology is available therefore we should be using it.” Today, there are many software and applications that are being developed that a person cannot keep up with all of them. At this time, we should consider not be buying into the EdX software for grading essays, until there are further studies and improvements are made on this software. The group of Educators who have made a stand against this software, have said that some of their criticism are that this software “cannot measure the essentials of effective written communication…[such as] good sense [and] ethical stance’. When a student is writing an essay answering questions, it takes a lot of thought to be able to put down exactly what a person is thinking, so how can a software, which is designed by an engineer, and is a program can really grade such an essay.
    The one benefit to the EdX software that grades essays is that there would an immediate feedback to the student about their grade on the essay. This could enable a student to make some decisions, especially if they were considering dropping the course and getting an immediate grade would expedite that decision. Also, to continue to rewrite the exam until a student obtains an acceptable grade is a wonderful tool especially for a high achiever. Also, this will free up the time for the professor to concentrate other pressing issues. The downside of the EdX software for grading essays is that there may be no leeway on the grading especially if the student is writing or answering their questions in a style that does not conform with the software system, but which can be addressed through the personal touch of the professor, especially when the professor knows the individual student and understands how the student think. Another detriment is that its seems that our society just jumps on the gun and believes in everything and anything that is fast and makes the work easier and sometimes these software systems are not thoroughly test and all the kinks worked out before it is utilized.

  12. Jessica Bermel

    Even though the technology is available, it doesn’t always mean we should always use it. Example, nuclear bombs. That doesn’t mean that I am totally opposed to the software though. I believe that there are certain aspects of the technology that are positive, that doesn’t make it entirely positive. In the U of L we use moodle or online programs associated with a class or text book for quizzes or instant feedback. Through Pearson’s online book system, it will walk us through step by step until we are able to get the question right which I have found very helpful.
    My thought would be that the technology is similar to Microsoft Word, where it automatically searches for misspellings and grammar mistakes. These functions can provide to be very helpful for creating documents but it is still up to the user to be able to control what is fixed and what isn’t. When writing a paper, you might for example mention an author like Irakly Andronikov, where both first and last name are shown as incorrect spelling in word. How will the essay grading technology know if it’s wrong or not?
    • The biggest benefit is that it gives timely feedback, when a student is in “the zone” so to speak. So when a student is in a headspace where they are totally focused on the paper at hand, they can continue to improve their paper while in the right mindset. Opposed to writing a paper and doing poorly on it. By the time they get it back, they might not even care to improve the paper as they are out of “the zone”.
    • The second benefit I see is that it allows more time for professors to spend more time with students and instruction and less time grading papers.
    The Negatives
    • For a student who doesn’t fully understand what they did wrong and where they can improve, I would imagine the program to be vague in determining where and how to improve and can cause confusion and frustration among students.
    • Leave an impersonal touch, everyone is graded and told where to improve, but there is probably a lack of encouraging words or statements congratulating students where there sentences were strongly written.

  13. shane grant

    First off I would be interested in taking one of these courses and see what the outcome of one of these classes would be. What I personally take from it and if I would recommend it to any of my fellow classmates, if the experience I had was either good or bad.
    If technology is available therefore we should use it, I believe to be wrong. I think in this modern age of technology there are things that still need the human element. I believe that a teacher’s feedback is way more valuable than a machine to tell you to try again but on the other hand see the convenience factor.
    The two biggest pros I see with this technology is convenience free teachers from their marking duties and making it easier for people to see what they need to improve on instantly and give it another try.
    The cons I would have to say is that a computer can’t take a human stance on what the writer is talking about and makes it harder to grade. Another con would be that even if the students answer was right, it wouldn’t be correct to standards of the software.

  14. Carmen Wu

    Addressing the statement of “The technology is available, therefore we should be using?”, the technology is available does not necessary means we should use it. There are tons of new software and application that are being developed each day, but not every single one is usable. According to this article, it suggests that more and more educational institutes are using this EdX software to grade students’ essays and short answers instead of simply grading on multiple choice or true or false questions. Multiple choices and True or False questions are tend to be more objective, there is only one right answer can be chosen in the question. However, on the other hand, essays and short answers questions are tend to be more subjective, these type of questions contains lots of different thoughts and opinions of students which in my opinion the artificial technology cannot compare with an actual human grader. I do believe that this software would help students with writing essays, because it allows students to write on one topic over and over again as they wish. Students can take advantage of these types of software to make changes to the essay before they hand in the actual paper to the professor. However, an actual graders or professors are replaceable. There are lots of concepts that this EdX software that does not know, such as the illustrations and statistic that given in the essays. Students paying large amount of money to attend school is not only using school’s facilities such as library, but also have to learn more concepts through professors that cannot be learned from textbooks. Overall, in my opinion, the automated grading system like EdX can definitely help with students’ school work, definitely an asset in writing an essays because it can give you opinion on how you did, but after all, an actual essay grader or professor is irreplaceable.

  15. Ekow Botwe

    Regarding the availability and the usage of this technology, I think there’s not enough evidence for it to be used in a very delicate sector as educational, particularly grading of essays. Factors such as accuracy, reliability etc should be a contributing factor in the acceptance of this technology. The education sector requires a good and even distribution of weight in terms of human effort and technology. Not every technology is good. Its availability does not mean it should be used. Also there is no concrete evidence or statistical inference which deems the grading software accurate and reliable as compared to humans.
    There are various advantages both for student and professors. Of course these systems in a way will be to the advantage of professors since their workload is reduced and therefore do not have to deal with large number of papers. This will help them to have time to do other research rather than grading essays. Students on the other hand is disadvantaged since the software can be flawed or bugged rendering it inaccurate an inefficient. These software’s are developed by humans so they be subject to misguided judgments like miscalculation, errors, omission etc.
    Students getting instant feedback is another benefit since they don’t have to wait two weeks or more for essays to be graded and it at least eliminates the anxiousness of awaiting essay grades for the most part. Moreover it will reduce the duties expected of a professor. Also the software allowing student to rewrite until a better mark is acquired is not good enough. This will make students lazy since they have unlimited attempts and will not ensure preparation since deadlines and time management is eliminated. In my opinion, for the software to be introduced, it should be further accessed and go through adequate testing and evaluation measures to be introduced in schools. If adopted, regular upgrade and maintenance should be ensured.

  16. Chelsea Minor

    “The technology is available therefore we should be using it?” I agree and disagree with this statement. I believe that technology has improved many aspects of the way teaching and grading is conducted. Responding to articles such as this and the use of online website and testing centers have greatly improved the type of education professors can offer us. This can also help professors and institutions spend the time they would marking students work on improving the lectures and programs they offer students, however every technology isn’t always a benefit. With the introduction of the Easy-Grading software it could be detrimental to students grades. A big issue is they did not have any valid statistical test comparing the software directly to human graders. This could cause this software to mark students work easier or harder then a professor would if they were marking it themselves.
    The first advantage to this technology is that it provides instant feedback to students and may allow students to resubmit their work until they get it right. This allows students to take an active approach when it comes to their education and doesn’t have them waiting weeks for a grade on their work. The second advantage to this technology is that it allows professors to spend time improving other aspects of their program, or allows them to become more available to meet with students especially for professors with large classes. The first disadvantage is that students may be able to manipulate the system to get a better grade then they should. They could use key words or expressions that makes the program grade their work higher then a professor would. The second disadvantage would be that “Computers cannot ‘read.’ They cannot measure the essentials of effective written communication: accuracy, reasoning, adequacy of evidence, good sense, ethical stance, convincing argument, meaningful organization, clarity, and veracity, among others.” This could cause students to receive lower marks then a professor may give them and eliminates that personal connection that professors acquire when reading a students work.

  17. Courtney Minor

    In regards to the statement “The technology is available, therefore we should be using it?” I do not agree with this. This is because not all technology is good technology and just because it is available doesn’t mean it is the best product. When looking at this article I believe that just because there is Easy-Grading software available for professors to use that does not mean that it is the best way for students to have their tests marked. There has been no research that has done valid statistical testing comparing the software directly to human graders. This is a huge issue because there is no way of comparing how that essay would have been marked if the professor marked it instead of the software program. Another disadvantage of this Easy-Grading software is that students know how to manipulate the software to get the high grades they want. Instead of knowing the information that is needed to write a efficient essay it turns into a game with students resubmitting their work until they get it right. Another disadvantage would be that the system is new and is most likely flawed. This could result in students receiving inaccurate grades. The advantages of this software is that it will free up time for professors to do other work such as research instead of marking papers. Another advantage would be that students receive immediate feedback instead of having to wait days to to get their marks back. Students also have the opportunity to write their essays multiple times which is an advantage for them.

  18. Anton Golubin

    1.“The technology is available therefore we should be using it?” – I do not think that we have to use every available technology, especially if it consernes education. In my opinion, education is a realy fragile sphere for using cutting edge techologies because by uttilizing these technologies one can shutter the main principle of education itself: connection between students and teachers. This is the most valuable asset that student can derive from traditional education. By using an easy grading system, both students and teachers will be separated from each other. Thereby, student will not be able to receive a feddback from their teachers, and teachers will not be able follow after their students’ progress ( development) – which, as for me, one of the main part of teachers work and motivation.
    2. Drawbacks and advantages of easy grading systems
    2.1. Easy grading systems facilitate teachers work by reducing the amount of paper to check. Many teachers have more than 300-400 papers to grade during each month, and with assomption that each work takes at least 10 minutes, one can easy understand the amount of time which teachers need to spend ( app. 50 hours). With easy grading systems teachers can spend more time on preparation, self sevelopment and so forth.
    2.2. These systems can be used not as final checking systems but as system which can help develop writing skills and aleviate preparation for tests and papers. There are many exercises In physic and calculus subjects student can practice.Futhermore, they have the right answers as a measure of their skills. However, it is impossible to do the same with essayes or short answers which in almost all cases require human participation for grading. Easy grading systems can be distributed as systems which can provide students with a powerful tool for checking structure and grammar of written essayes.
    2.3. On the other hand, one can revert of a purpose of using these systems from checking to writing essayes and wiil take an unfair advantage.
    2.4. Computers cannot distinguish emotions hence they cannot understand a really poetic language. Students have to adjust their writings techiques to systems requirements in order to receive highest marks. It can cause a deterioration of writing skills.

  19. Mia Angelica Alcantara

    1. Comment on the following statement “The technology is available therefore we should be using it?”
    Absolutely! And it would be great if it’s free too. I think that teachers and students should be able to use new technology in any setting (open online courses, traditional schooling, etc). Fear of certain errors in grading should be set aside as these can be part of the learning process of exploring new ways to grade essays or use technology to enhance education. It’s definitely time to change the old ways of learning in a classroom, grading essays which in most ways are inefficient use of a teacher’s time. Technology has a big potential in enabling teachers to reach more students and still be able to have a work life balance.
    2. What do you see as the two biggest benefits of this technology and what do you see as the two biggest detriments to using this technology?
    One of the biggest benefits would be reaching more students in 3rd world countries which an education is fairly limited and good teachers are hard to find. Open online education would grant anyone access, through the internet, to well-known experts in their fields and become not just teachers but mentors to anyone in the world.
    Second, would be decreasing the cost education for most of the countries and even be able to offer it for free for others. One of the limiting factors of getting an education is because of its cost. Anyone will be willing to learn but they need to have money to invest it in education. By lowering the cost and even giving education for free will allow more people to learn and educate themselves.
    The toughest hindrance for using technology in education is the fear of technology itself. Since education has been fairly straightforward and “manual” for hundreds of years, the sudden shift of using technology to teach becomes daunting to most people. Added to this is the relative new concept of “letting the machines do it”. Some tasks (like grading essays) are seen as non-machine programmable because the algorithm is fairly new and of course people resists new things.

  20. Jared Arsenault

    This technology has benefits and disadvantages. I could see it being used in specific circumstances, like these blog entries or other short response answers, in which little weight is given to the students overall grade. One of the statements in the article mentioned that multiple choice tests do not develop student’s critical thinking skills. This statement is probably true but I would argue that professors don’t give multiple choice tests to enhance this skill. The tests are a way to grade students understanding of material and help determine if adequate understanding of class material has been achieved. I find professors use class discussion and large assignments to help develop critical thinking skills so the statement has little relevance whether it is truthful or not. I think students prefer human markers for written work because they can get constructive feedback and with minimal writing assignments in the curriculum the wait time isn’t a huge issue. The paper can only be written one time and if there is only one paper to write not much is going to change throughout the semester regardless of the timeliness of the marking. This system could be very useful at bigger school where enormous class sizes make giving written work impossible. This would provide professors that have large classes with the opportunity to incorporate some aspects of written material. If this technology were to be used I think is should be restricted to large schools and only used on assignments with little weighting attached to the overall grade for the student.

  21. raeesa jiwa

    I think that the availability of technology does not mean that we must use it for every possible avenue in life! There are amazing advancements in technology and this analysis does not focus on the particular software of automated marking rather on the appropriate or inappropriate usage of technology. Certain aspects of society such as healthcare and education require a balance of technology and human interaction. How can a software be equivalent to the opinions, emotions and nonverbal cues of human interaction? The answer is that it cannot. Just because something is available does not mean it should be used. As an member of the generation of the ‘technological boom,’ I see the blurred line between appropriate usage of software and a completely skewed usage of it. Creating softwares to eliminate professors marking requirement is not a good thing, and the article even refers to it as ‘good enough,’ softwares should be used to advance the standard of living not replace it with mediocracy. Certain things are increased with the value of technology and others are not, this particular software is an absolute no go in in my opinion, and experience as a student.

  22. Vanessa Kerychuk-Matus

    I can see why this particular technology is extremely controversial. As a student, I see multiple pros and cons relating to this new technological development. Firstly, because learning and adapting to various professors’ styles and preferences comes in handy in the work force. When I need to learn how my professors want me to communicate and I am required to adapt to variation between professors, I am more likely to learn that very important skill that is used daily in the working environment. With increasing reliance on team work, the need to change your working style based the preferences of others is huge and the first place you get a chance to learn this skill is through writing different tests and projects for different professors with different teaching styles. Additionally, the idea of resubmission “until we get it right” seems both positive and negative. I like the idea of being able to perfect my work and immediately learn what I’ve done wrong. However, committing that amount of time to resubmission could be costly for students (especially those working full-time or with other serious commitments). Lastly, if this technology were implemented, would students see a drastic reduction in tuition fees? Post-secondary education is extremely expensive but we pay for the knowledge and opinions of the professors we learn from. When learning from an automated system, the quality and dynamic nature of that information may be reduced. As such, it seems reasonable that the cost should go down as much as the quality.

  23. Emmanuel Makoni

    First and foremost, just because a resource is available does not mean that it should be utilized. It is essential to assess the benefits as well as the disadvantages of the resource. For example, just because one has money does not mean they must buy everything that they want. Instead, they must assess the value and impact of what that item will have on the individual’s life, and whether or not it is worth it. That being said, there are obviously two sides to this automated grading system. One benefit of this software is that students are able to get instant feedback. This is good because the student is able to learn how to better their essays while his or her thoughts about the ideas of his/her essay are still ‘fresh’. Another benefit is that teachers or professors are able to focus on other aspects of their job, and not have to worry about the essays that usually take them a lot of time to grade – and some of that overtime is not paid. A detriment of this is that the algorithm might not always be able to grade fairly as writing styles differ and different points can be portrayed differently. This would lead to people essentially writing the same. Another detriment of this is that this is a way of machine slowly replacing humans. As extreme as it may sound, it’ll get to a point where teachers are not doing as much as they should be. In conclusion, the software must be assessed further and must be perfected first before schools can be willing to adopt it.

  24. Megan Plummer

    Not all technology is as amazing as it is portrayed to be. Just because this software is available definitely does not mean it’s meant to be used. I think that it’s neat that this software is available to be used but would rather a human still marked my exams that are not multiple choice. Artificial intelligence can’t dictate what is and isn’t quality writing. I imagine the parameters would be set to pick up on key terms throughout ones exam, but that doesn’t mean a student has used the terms correctly or even in a logical factor. In today’s society we are becoming to dependant on technology and its capabilities. It’s redefining our standards on what the true quality of work is and this isn’t necessarily positive.
    This type of software does have advantages of course. From the professors stand point, it sure makes their lives simpler. They would have a heaping amount of extra time with a system that grades exams and essays in seconds for them which could be applied to a variety of things. As a student I do like the idea of instant mark, I am always anxiously awaiting my exam marks the moment I finish writing it. The fact it would be there as soon as I hit submit sounds extremely appealing , but at the same time there is nothing like getting an amazing mark handed back to you, or helpful suggestions on how to improve. The biggest deterrent I see is that this technology is far from perfect; the fact that it can be manipulated and tricked into marking bad essays with high marks is frightening. It’s not fair to students or the education system for that matter. This technology can never honestly be the same as a real human marking them; the error level is too high for it to be an effective form of technology. The next deterrent in my eyes is the lack of feedback one would receive. It’s not an honest reflection of a students work or improvement during the course of a semester when an exam would give the student incite as well as the professor. Myself personally, would rather it remain human marking all the way.

  25. Philomen Kadima

    Not every available technology is good or appropriate to be used; the internet for example is used for both good such as efficiency in the workplace but also for bad reasons such as cyber bullying. This technology is also very new and requires lots of testing and I really do not want to be the piggy pig for it. I prefer my one on one time with my professor if I need it and do not want a build-in response to my essay. We are asked to hand in a draft most of the time for our essays these days anyway and the professor will give feedback on where to improve and how to approach the changes and such on the essay. The system also does not have the personal touch a real life professor can give his or her students; and college is hard enough without the support of the professor when it comes to my work.
    The two biggest benefits of using this technology would be the fact that time would be saved for professor or assistant professors who usually have to grade these essays, and the instant result a student gets is also nice.
    The two biggest detriments of using this technology would be the fact that it is taking away jobs and additional duties of certain people.
    I absolutely would not endorse or want to use the technology; it is further and further distancing students from the professor. I also do not like the fact that it lets students re-write the essay as often as they may wish to because it is taking away from deadlines and need to put in enough energy on what one hands in as final product as they have so many tries now using this technology.

  26. Josh MacNevin

    The term artificial Intelligence by definition is flawed. A computer can’t see effort, or overall topic knowledge. It can’t determine if the student is able to get to the correct conclusion in a round about way that possibly wasn’t the way the computer was programmed.. True intelligence, is not artificial and can’t be duplicated. I think there is a time and place for technology, and I personally benefit everyday from these advancements (as do most) but I think that we are getting carried away with the convenience of technology. On the other hand this system would give the professors much more time for other academic pursuits which could benefit the students and possibly out weigh the negatives of having a cold, completely rational, machine correcting exams. Technology is available but does not mean that it should be used without some regard for the ways it affects those involved.

  27. Kelly Bateman

    In regards to the question “if the technology is available, should we therefore be using it?”, i think just because it is available, doesn’t mean it has to be used. Society is becoming very dependent on technology and i think taking a step back would be for the best interest. I’m all for improving technology to help with certain aspects, but having it as an artificial intelligence system with marking essays is definitely not my forte. When a teacher grades a paper, they are reviewing how the student has upgraded or downgraded, the grammar and punctuation issues, as well as seeing what needs improvement. I think using technology to mark multiple choice exams is A-OK, but essays are definitely to be marked by the teacher at their discretion. Two biggest benefits of this technology would be time saving and for the students to have their mark back instantly, but drawbacks are that it’s a machine doing the marking, not providing feedback, and not being able to be personable with the teacher.

  28. Sidney Bouma

    In regards to the statement, “The technology is available, therefore we should be using it?”, I would say that we shouldn’t be pressured into using it just because its there. I dont think that it would the the most efficient way of doing things. In todays world, teachers need to keep up with technology but at this rate we will barely need teachers with online modules already available. The in class experience is slowly being replaced by automation. This does lower costs for the institutions but i strongly believe that a computer cannot perfectly understand the words and ideas that go into writing reports or essays. With this new technology, i think that professors will not trust it completely and will end up grading them them-self anyway and the technology ends up being a waste. With all the different subject areas, i think that teachers need to adjust their marking and thinking strategy accordingly. I dont think these computers will be able to adjust their marking scheme with each essay. The two biggest benefits would include lowering marking costs since teachers would need less time or student aids. Another benefit is the time saved from personally marking since computers can do it in a day. Two big detriments of this technology would be the computer errors that would take place. There is alot on the line in school. Another one would be the lack of personal feedback from the teachers. i find that personal feedback from a teacher is very helpful. Then we can talk about the paper and work out ways that i can improve.

  29. Cory Hoffner

    In regards to the statement “The technology is available therefore we should be using it?” I too believe that just because the technology is available does not mean we need to use it. I am all for teachers having access and using tools to help them teach more efficiently and effectively. I myself want to be a teacher in the future and will be looking for unique and innovative tools to help improve my teaching methods and efficiency, but I think Edx has gone to far with implementing artificial intelligence into the classroom. I firmly believe that a computer cannot grade an essay as well as a teacher can. There are too many variables in marking grammar, structure, and content that a computer can miss. Will a computer recognize if an individual student is improving over a semester? I think not, but a teacher who physically marks essays will. I also do not agree with being able to rewrite until you get a better score. The purpose of exams and papers is to test your knowledge that you have gained throughout the course. You must study and prepare yourself before exams in order to receive good marks. By allowing students to rewrite multiple times, I think students will lack motivation to study and prepare. If I knew that I could rewrite an exam or paper multiple times I would not put much effort into preparing for it. Although immediate feedback is great for students, I think there is too much risk implementing this program in our education.

  30. Easton Smith

    To address the statement “The technology is available, therefore we should be using it?” I believe that just because something is available, does not mean it is the most effective or ethical way of handling the situation. There are many tools available to help cut costs, however, keeping expenses to a minimum (although important) should not be at the forefront of the educational agenda. I believe that the two biggest benefits of this technology are obtaining instant feedback, and freeing up professors time for use in other areas such as research. As a student, obtaining instant feedback is always nice. It lets you know how well you prepared, and can let you know what areas you need to work on to improve. For professors, this technology would undoubtedly give them much more time for other areas, like research, which would benefit students by being taught what is currently happening in the area and the direction in which it is headed. In my opinion the two biggest detriments of using this technology are that students get a chance to rewrite the test to improve their grade, and that the stakes of error in grading are simply just too high. You may wonder why I used the first of these as a negative consequence, as it was stated as a positive one in the article. Although it would be nice to keep trying to improve in order to get better grades, doesn’t that defeat the whole point of a test in the first place? Test results show you how well you prepared, and your level of knowledge before hand. I think the idea of being able to “keep trying” defeats the whole purpose of testing. We’re in university, not middle school. Secondly, the stakes are just too high for computer error in grading these written materials. We pay a substantial amount of money to attend post-secondary education, and the outcomes of these classes have a huge impact on our future. The fact that Dr. Agarwal (president of EdX) stated that “This is machine learning and there is a long way to go, but it’s GOOD ENOUGH and the upside is huge” is enough to put me on the No side of the fence. The idea of ‘good enough’ in university, in my opinion, just doesn’t cut it.


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