Wednesday, August 09, 2023

The Acting Professor

When I taught Programming for Engineers at Northwestern in 2008, the textbook gave access to PowerPoint slides I could use to teach the class. Since C++ is not a specialty of mine, I tried using the slides for the course. It just felt wrong and lazy--it wasn't me teaching and the students were picking up on it. So I went back to teaching my own way and even though I would occasionally make a mistake (or two or ten), they were my mistakes and the class learned better with me.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ran a series on Courseware where it goes much further.

Romano’s instructor was using a courseware product from the publishing titan Cengage. In a departure from traditional supplementary class materials, like textbooks, many courseware tools offer the “soup to nuts” of an entire course: Not only the digital version of a textbook, but homework assignments and assessments that an instructor can select from a bank of premade options. Educational videos, slide presentations, and study flashcards. Auto-grading and performance-analytics capabilities.

It all made for an underwhelming, and often frustrating, learning experience. “There were never ways we could learn from the instructor,” said Romano, who double-majored in political science and environmental science. “It was just a really weird class.” 

At what point are lecturers just actors, reading the material and running the course on autopilot? Is this an advantage over pre-recorded online courses?

With AI perhaps you remove the instructor completely and a course just becomes a fancy computer game. Will the students learn? Will they want to?


  1. Not just professors. with ChatGPT and other tools soon many jobs will be acting. Even acting

  2. On valentines day I got my girlfriend choclate, roses, and a card. Why? Because thats the script. People acting pre-dates AI