Xerox scanner grades handwritten tests, scolds you for dangling modifier

We’re now one step closer to a completely automated classroom. Xerox recently pulled the wraps off a new program called Ignite that will turn photocopies into test grading machines.

And we’re not just talking about those bubble-checking Scantron machines that we've known about for far too long. The new custom software can actually decipher hand-written responses for everything from English essays to your math homework. In addition to checking if your answers are right, the software can also provide detailed reports on how a student is doing and mark any areas that need improvement.

“Xerox has handed our grade-school teachers the gift of data analytics,” Adele Bovard, superintendent of the Webster School District—one of the several districts piloting Ignite in New York—said in a release. “Instead of spending time scoring tests and making sense of the data, teachers can quickly access pertinent views of the data and focus on meeting the needs of individual students.”

Xerox says it developed the software so teachers can spend less time on manually grading papers and instead focus on planning lessons.

This sort of application isn’t impossible considering that you can already use optical character recognition (OCR) software to convert handwritten notes into a PDF document. I imagine this sort of automated scanning algorithm might work splendidly for math tests, but it could be dangerous for essays. After all, how many times have word processors completely dropped the ball when it comes to checking grammar?

Xerox plans to have complete commercial version of Ignite ready for schools for the coming 2013-14 school year.

[Xerox via Gizmodo]

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