Waiting weeks for exam results may become a thing of the past.
EdX, a nonprofit company founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently unveiled auto-grade software. The software uses artificial intelligence to automatically grade essays and short-answer questions.
So far, the technology is reported to have a positive effect on the exam process, with students receiving instant feedback, according to The New York Times. But it’s unclear whether the program would be a welcome addition to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Exactly when the software will be released remains unknown. Whenever that is, it will become available for any university to use for free.
The system’s functions are simple. An instructor must first manually grade 100 essays or other written pieces. The EdX system then bases its grading on how the instructor previously graded.
“I would use it in a limited capacity,” said Alan Eno, a journalism lecturer. “It would be good for feedback on drafts.”
The UNL Faculty Senate Executive Committee has also thrown the idea around.
Mathias Schubert, a committee member and professor of electrical engineering, said he’s not sure if anyone at UNL intends to make use of the software. “As a physicist, I oppose the idea of using machines to grade the product of a human mind,” Schubert said. No modern technology has or can replace a normal classroom setting, he said.
Some UNL students agreed.
Sophomore Spanish education major Mykayla Lofgren said that while EdX might be the easier option, human grading is necessary.
“I feel like it takes away half of the professor’s job,” Lofgren said. “You need human feedback and human compassion.”
With the program, students have less contact and professors can be left out of the loop.
“The value I find in (essays) is that they help me better than anything else to understand how well students are learning and what they’re not learning,” journalism professor John Bender said. He said even if the test grading could be 100 percent accurate, he would be deprived of the valuable information that he can get from his students.
Spanish lecturer Jill Gnade-Munoz said she would not use the system.
“Better technology doesn’t mean better education,” Gnade-Munoz said. “I feel like we are starting to lose human contact in the classroom. I care too much about giving my feedback – I’m responsible for it.”