Are Teaching Machines Making A Comeback In 2022?

Are Teaching Machines Making A Comeback In 2022?
Disclaimer: Image featured is possibly an early prototype. Not to scale. The actual TM22 may or may not look anything like this.
Summary: Are teaching machines making a return in the world of online learning in 2022? Read on to find out about the next big thing in eLearning!

Are Teaching Machines Making A Return In The World Of Online Learning?

Online learning is a constantly evolving field with new tools expanding its capacities every few years. Most recently, Learning Management Systems have taken the world of online learning by storm. We see them being used in businesses, schools, and other organizations that want to offer training. But now, it seems like our beloved LMSs have a new competitor. Or should we say old? Teaching machines, much like the ones created by renowned psychologists B. F. Skinner and Sidney L. Pressey, are making a triumphant return.

A Few Facts About Learning Machines

Teaching machines have played a crucial role in the history of eLearning. But if you're new to the industry, allow us to educate you briefly. The first teaching machine was created in the mid-1920s by American psychologist Sidney L. Pressey, and it was used for rote-and-drill learning. In the 1960s, fellow psychologist B. F. Skinner introduced a more modern teaching machine that paired learning with positive reinforcement. And this exact learning machine is the one we will start seeing in online training courses very soon.

Why Invest In A Teaching Machine?

Skinner's machine was a genius invention of the past that can add so much to the world of modern online training. So, ignore all your doubts and become part of this new world. There's no need to worry about the budget you will need to allocate to incorporate it into your training course—and trust us, you'll have to spend a lot! For one, the great reputation and high-quality construction of teaching machines make them quite pricy pieces of equipment. Additionally, it's very possible you’ll need a moving team to bring them into your office, as well as an extremely niche support team. Finally, seeing as only one person can use them at a time, you'll have to consider buying multiple, as well as figuring out a few different rooms to place them.

However, these are only one-time costs that can't compare to the numerous benefits that await on the other side. Let's see why teaching machines will become a necessary part of your online training course.

Learner Engagement

Teaching machines provide learners with immediate feedback by letting them know right away if they have picked the correct answer. As a result, they enhance knowledge acquisition and keep learners engaged. One could say teaching machines are even more engaging than smartphones and laptops, as the versatility of these devices can distract trainees and affect their learning progress. On the other hand, how can you not stay focused when learning on a teaching machine? Its sheer size immerses learners in an educational bubble that not even the clanky typing sounds of their colleagues can break. Don't be discouraged by the inability to connect headphones to the teaching machine to reduce noise in the room. Instead, install them in different rooms in your business or establish a rotation system so that your employees can use them one by one.


Don't be fooled into thinking that teaching machines lack personalization features compared to LMSs. On the contrary, they have been designed to allow for various adjustments based on learner performance. For example, when a learner punches in too many wrong answers, you can manually reprogram the machine to give easier questions on the next round, thus boosting learner confidence and encouraging them to keep going. In addition, teaching machines promote individual learner pace, as there is no time limit. Although, we wouldn't recommend that you give your employees all the time in the world, as there are other trainees waiting in line (remember the rotation system we suggested above).

Are You Ready For Teaching Machines' Triumphant Return?

If you have made it this far, I guess it's time to say...April Fools! The technology behind online learning has developed by leaps and bounds in recent years. Therefore, no matter how genius the invention of Skinner's teaching machine was, it can stay in the history books of eLearning where it belongs. Nowadays, modern technology allows us to have all the same benefits that this machine introduced, plus countless more, without any of its limitations.

And as time goes by, more trends will undoubtedly emerge in the field of eLearning. What do you think the next big thing in online learning is going to be? Post an article on our website to share your insights about the future of eLearning!