On (not) automating ELT materials development

Today I was contacted by someone from an EdTech company. It’s unsurprising, seeing as I am a very online person.

I think they were trying to be earnest when they asked ‘what is the most boring, frustrating or tedious task when writing materials?’

In my reply, which possibly seems snarkier than intended, I wrote:

Nothing is tedious or frustrating. If there is anything boring, it is likely to be boring for students. Anything that is frustrating is normally due to software formatting problems. The materials writing process is not really something that can be automated, because if it were, the only possible responses would be automated. In that case, there is no point in having teachers or students in classes, and we could have two neural nets talk to one another. 

If this is an area that your company has identified as a niche market, I urge it to reconsider. There is already a ton of material out there, more than can plausibly be used. 

I know that somebody is likely to disagree, and that the disagreement likely stems from a different teaching approach. That is fine, I guess. But if you have a bunch of PPP drills and it’s tedious for you to come up with them, then it is highly likely that your students are going to feel the same.