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"Never have there been so many people grabbing at what they perceive as opportunities to use technology in education, and yet most have little understanding of the consequences of such applications, especially the changes in teaching methods and institutional structures that are necessary if technology is to have more than a marginal effect on learning. Ferster’s engaging, original argument—that knowing what happened when older technologies were used should be of great practical and academic value today—is one of the most exciting ideas I have encountered for a very long time. Teaching Machines adds a historical and conceptual perspective to the hoopla surrounding contemporary technology-driven innovation. I would love to see every teacher in training read this book."

"With wit and lucidity, Bill Ferster shows how technology has always been deployed in service to education, though not always with successful results. He demonstrates how early mechanical devices—books, telephones, radio, television, and computers—have been used to make education more effective, efficient, and profitable. His lessons speak volumes about our latest attempts to use machines to educate and enlighten."

"This interesting book explores the history of teaching machines and the reasons they have not lived up to their promise of revolutionizing education. The book draws the reader in by providing a story of the people who were prominent in developing each technology and their hopes for improving education. The final chapter discusses lessons learned from these past failures and provides suggestions for developing more effective technologies. This should be required reading for all instructional designers and computer engineers interested in teaching machines and/or education."

"A valuable history of educational technology, Bill Ferster takes us from PLATO to MOOCs, B. F. Skinner to Sebastian Thrun with elegance and healthy skepticism."

"This sweeping overview of teaching tools from the hornbooks of the seventeenth century to the cloud-based apps of the twenty-first provides rare and necessary perspective on a topic of perpetual debate."

"Provides valuable historical background, memorable stories, and a thoughtful tour of today's landscape. Those working towards an initial, but informed, opinion of the possibilities of educational technology will find the book helpful."

"Teaching Machines' readability and its appealing mix of theory and narrative, historical and contemporary developments make it a valuable choice as a course reader for lecturers, instructional designers and indeed for anyone engaged in the business of education. It will sit in a prominent place on my bookshelf, thanks to its engaging, insightful and comprehensive review of the evolution of educational technology."

"What Ferster’s readable history shows, at some fundamental level, is a need to rethink the real capabilities of educational technology."

"... an accessible account of "teaching machines" enlivened by the author’s personal anecdotes, his reflections and many photographs and illustrations."

"... Teaching machines contributes a highly readable analytical guide to a world that many historians of education have tended to dismiss."