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Audrey Watters

Writer

Full Disclosure...


I am always suspicious when I hear people invoke “objectivity” – whether they’re scientists or journalists or teachers. I am deeply implicated – me, Audrey – in all I write, in all I think. I try my best to be transparent about that. So here’s some things that situate my knowledge (and for you, dear reader, to situate me in turn):

Education


I went to public school in Wyoming through 11th grade when I was sent to a private boarding school in Oxford, England. (My dad’s from Wyoming; my mum’s from England.) I did not graduate from a US high school. (The State of Wyoming would not grant me my diploma as I didn’t have enough PE credits.) I have an International Baccalaureate instead. The IB was the best education I received in my entire educational career: from kindergarten through graduate school. I recognize the privilege of private school.

I dropped out of college when I was 19. I had a baby when I was 21. I went back to school eventually (mostly taking undergraduate classes via “distance education”) and stayed there for multiple degrees. I was widowed when I was 34. I dropped out of a PhD program a year later.

I taught university for almost 10 years, teaching a variety of classes in a number of departments: composition, Folklore, Women’s Studies, English, Film, Comparative Literature. During that time, I was a member of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, the labor union representing the University of Oregon graduate students and a local of the American Federation of Teachers. I am no longer a member of either union, as I’m no longer a grad student.

I wrote my Masters Thesis in Folklore on political pranks. It included a chapter on political pie-throwing, and at one time I was known as the scholarly expert on this act. (I have an autographed copy of Noël Godin’s book, and no, I will never take or receive Bill Gates’ money.)

I worked for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) for (not quite) two years before resigning to become a freelance writer. I have no financial interest in the organization and am not a member.

I have a 25-year-old son who’s opted not to finish college. I don’t believe that everyone should have to go to college; I think that times are incredibly tough for those who don’t. (That’s not a new thing; that’s sorta always been the point, right?)

Economics


I have freelanced for various publications, including The Baffler, The Atlantic, Educating Modern Learners, KQED’s MindShift, Inside Higher Ed, and The School Library Journal.

Mostly I write for my own ed-tech blog Hack Education. I refuse to run ads or take sponsorship dollars. Instead, the site is funded by readers’ donations.

Although I’ve also done some research to pay my bills, I tend to do quite a bit of speaking, and that is my main source of income. I don’t do consulting. So don’t ask.

I was a recipient of the Spencer Education Journalism Fellowship for the 2017–2018 academic year. I was a recipient of a Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant in 2014.

I currently have a book contract with MIT Press for Teaching Machines.

When my dad died a few years ago, I inherited enough money to pay off my student loans (about $20,000 from grad school). I also inherited a stake in some empty commercial lots in Casper, Wyoming that I should probably sell before it’s time to pay property taxes on that crap again. I also inherited an IRA (about $3000), which I really need to deal with as my dad had a real terrible politics of investing.

My husband Kin Lane is also a technology professional, and we’ve started a business (and a podcast) together called Contrafabulists. As the name perhaps suggests, we are interested in giving the stories told by the tech industry some well-deserved critical scrutiny. Kin works for F5 Networks in Seattle, where both of us have resided since January 2019.

Updated March 2019