Employing ChatGpt or other AI choices to simply generate assignments with minimal student input is ineffective to our goal of designing pedagically sound courses that nurture student skills and critical thinking.  Still, that does NOT mean that AI itself won't have a positive impact.  Perhaps the most difficult thing for teachers to understand is the rapid evolution that AI will undergo and how it can become a valuable tool for students and teachers to use.  

Strategy Evaluation Table

AI Uses and Benefits

(click on the strategy to jump to the explanation)

Strategy Efficacy Pros Cons
1.Personalized Tutor ★★★★

+ students have access to answers and responses outside of direct teacher interactions

+ can increase student understanding of content and concepts

+ student use of the AI tool could increase critical thinking opportunities

- reliance on the black box to come up with the answer

- Accuracy of information and data set limitations

- equitability of access

2. Summarization ★★★★★

+ Complex texts can be inputed into AI and summarized, pulling out main points, ideas

+ increases accessibility when reading skills may be limited.

- if students are not invested in their learning they can lean on AI to "come up with the answer".

- can reduce the creative element in student thought as they don't lean on their own experiences and thought processes

- avoiding dealing with complex ideas and text can limit higher level skills

3.Adaptations ★★★★

+ rewrite and adapt text at lower reading level

+ allow teachers/resource teachers a relatively easy method to adapt materials for students with learning difficulties or special needs.

- subtleties in original text can be lost.  
4.Research ★★★★★

+ can make connections to other research that the student may have been unaware of.

+Tools exist that allow students to organize and explore articles around topics

- students may rely on AI to find research, avoiding more traditional methods, possibly limiting what they access.

5.Language Learning ★★★★

+ students can hold conversations with AI in another language.

+ can ask to simplify or increase difficulty.  

- currently limited to text, but converstational AI is improving.  

- Costs - Google Cloud has an option, but you need to pay to use (free trial)

6.Conversation with a famous character ★★★★

+ can improve student engagement

+ allows students to explore time periods and ideas from a specific perspective

- limited in scope as the subtleties of thoughts and beliefs from the past are often at odds with progressive thinking.  

- There are safeguards to keep discussions ethical, but students should be aware of potential difficulties.  

7. Coding ★★★★

+ Allows students with limited coding skills access to create programs

+ Can increase the speed at which students can program as they can use the AI code as a jumping off point.

- students can learn to rely on AI rather than "learn to code",

- often need to edit the original code for errors.

8.Development of Learning Objects ★★★★★

+ speed up the development process for creating learning objects

+ potential to customize learning objects

- At present AI use is limited in the development of specific learning objects for education.
9. Data Driven Decisions ★★★★★

+ Ai has the potential to allow districts and schools to use the data within courses to improve learning outcomes.

+ teachers can use the data to gain a greater insight into the effectiveness of lessons

- science overwhelms the art?

- privacy issues around data ownership

- decisions made on data not always transparent. How does the algorithm decide?

10.Plugins ★★★★★ + speciifc plugins can help to use AI in targeted areas.  Prompt perfect, There is an AI for that are a few examples

 - time to explore and discover what is available

- do these plugins reduce the need to criticlly think?

1: Personalized Tutor AI Benefit  (★★)

Perhaps the most immediate benefit AI presents for students is the ability to act as a personal tutor.  From providing repetitive practice to simply being a voice for them to help navgate questions when they don't have easy access to a teacher, Ai has the potential to fill many gaps for students when they are not at school. 

The largest concern is simply building a reliance upon the tool to come up with the answers. shortcutting the students own thinking process.  Students must also be taught about the closed nature of the system, the inherit biases that are in the dataset that is being used, and a concern about if everyone will have equal access to the most effective tools.

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2: Summarization AI Benefit (★★★★)

AI can help make complex text more accesible.  AI can pull out main points and ideas and help students gain a deeper understanding of the material, perhaps pointing out new insights that the student overlooked. 

Again the fear with student reliance upon AI is that they are just using AI to "come up with the answer."  A sublter concern is that students and teachers lose out on the creative thought process and simply search for the "answer" avoiding the spark of discovery in forming new and creative ideas. 

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3: Adaptations AI Benefit (★★★★)

The benefit of AI for adapting material may well be the most impacted area in education the short term.  Being able to easily rewrite text at a lower reading level, and being able to explore alternate lessons around the main topic may allow resource teachers to help teachers deal with the growing variation of students in the classroom. 

Again the challenge here is more subtle as avoiding the use of complex or original works can limit the range of ideas and thoughts explore.

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4.Research AI Benefit (★★★)

AI will prove to be a massive boon for research for students and teachers.  The use of AI to explore and make connections amongst information and articles will prove invauable.  Tools like researchrabbit.ai organize and link similar subject matter and ideas.  The limitation is again the pool of articles that is available.  The question of access and equitability is one to pay attention here as well.

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5:  Language Learning AI Benefit (★★)

Using AI as a language learning tool holds much promise.  AI is a patient cooperative tutor that allows you to increase or reduce the complexity of language use.  Setting up scenarios with the AI can allow you to explore realistic conversational situations.  Through the use of careful prompt selection you can also set the parameters around how you would like the conversation to progress. 

Currently, this is limited to text, but conversational AI is improving, but this may be an area where you will need to pay to gain access.

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6:  Conversations with a Famous Person/Character AI Benefit (★★)

An interesting opportunity is to prompt Ai to take on the personality of a famous character or person.  Students can engage with the AI to get a sense of motivations, insights and rwationalizations for the characters actions.  This can be effective tool to engage students and allow them to explore the past etc in a more natural and relevant manner.

AI is limited based on the dataset, but also in it's ethical programming.  There are safeguards in place to prevent specifics discussions around sensitive subjects, but students should be aware that AI may still say something inappropriate.  Also, the ethical programming piece does hamper the ability to delve into the subtleties of human nature.  Literature and history allow us to glimpse the tragic flaws and aspirations of himanity and AI may have difficulty exploring topics, themes that are at odds with a progressive mindset.

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7:  Coding AI Benefit (★★)

AI has had an immediate impact in the world of programming and coding.  The economist has a subtitle of an article that the software engineers of the future may themselves be software.  AI can help make coding accessiblefor students, and speed up development of completing programs.  Students who may have been put off by the complexity of learning a computer language may find using AI to help soften the introduction to the programming world.  For teachers using AI can allow them to create scenarios for students to problem solve and find errors. 

The concern will be if students again lean on AI to do the work, while they learn little or avoid digging in to assess issues or problems. 

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8:  Interactive Learning Objects AI Benefit (★★)

As AI impacts the world of coding the ability for teachers to develop learning objects for use in the class will increase.   Currently, the online world is still heavily based on a textbook model (both secondary and post secondary.)  The development of learning objects to help customize experiences for students will increase the interactivity and engagement that is possible.

Districts will need to work on providing server space that meets the demands of programs that become more media rich and balance the development of these technical pieces with the personal connection of student to teachers.

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9:  Data Driven Decisions AI Benefit ()

While the is nothing out of the box yet for education, AI will be incredibly useful in pulling data from leaning management system to aid districts, schools and teachers in assessing their program and courses.  Having access to a tool that can sort and pull relevant information from the myriad of inputs in the online world will be a bit of a game changer when it comes to improving student engagement (what works, what doesn't), evaluating the effectiveness of the lessons or assessments and potential sugggesting ways for student improvement. 

Concerns around privacy and access to student information need to be kept in mind as we move in this direction.  Also, the transparency of the decisions and how they came about needs to be part of the process, lest schools also reduce their evaluation to just "trust in the black box."  The piece that  may be of largest concern is the over reliance of data.  Science overwhelming the art of teaching so to speak.  Data can be incredible useful, and may give the sense that there is a "right way" to do things.   While trends and outliers can be incrediblly useful to know, we also need to remember that every learner is unique.  Students are not widgets that provide identical output with similar inputs.   

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10:  AI Plugins AI Benefits (★★)

Along with the well known AI ChatGpt there are AI driven plugins that provide specific insights or tools that can allow to more fully utilize AI.  Whether it be helping to organize reseach(research rabbit), to help clarify your prompts (prompt perfect), or to design original artwork from text prompts (myjourney) these specific AI plugins allow the user a more focussed tool and specific outcome. 

Finding and exploring useful tools in a technology space that is so quickly evolving is going to be one of the challenges.   The other large issue will be around access.  Myjourney is a good example.  Myjourney is a text to image generator.  You put in your prompt via text and myjourney will create original art based off the prompt.  initally, there was a free trial, but now it is eight dollars a month (if you pay for a year). 

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AI Benefits

AI is a tool that will prove to be a massive benefit to education.  What was only science fiction years ago is playing out in front of us.  Our role in exploring these tools will prove to be vitally important.  How we use the tools or the systems we design will decide how benefical or detrimental they become.

William Gibson (Science Fiction author of Neuromancer and the person who coined the term cyberspace) has this to say about technology.

I think that technologies are morally neutral until we apply them. It's only when we use them for good or for evil that they become good or evil.

Taking this approach to AI in education could be helpful.  What do we value?  How do we want to use the tools?  Are there unintended consequences?  How can we use AI for the good of students, teachers and education?

Last modified: Friday, 1 September 2023, 12:34 PM