Robots are taking over?! It seems like the stuff in a Will Smith movie, but here we are facing very real implications of artificial intelligence in every aspect of our life, from the self check out at the grocery store to chatbot that helps when we are trying to get in touch with our cell phone company.
Historically, education is one area where the adoption of new technologies has been behind the curve. Understandably, naysayers lament the loss of the teaching and learning of yester-year. “When I was a kid, we had to :
- go to a physical library,
- look up information in actual books,
- write notes by hand in cursive,
- type on a typewriter and the keys didn’t even all work!”.
These comments do underscore how learning has changed dramatically and with the advent of AI, the change appears to be even more rapid.
But, for better and for worse, AI isn’t going away and it’s going to impact all aspects of education, including both the teaching and the learning
One strategy might be to avoid the inevitable, and bury our head in the proverbial sand.
Another strategy might be to embrace the change head-first without thoughtful consideration of the benefits and blunders inherent in this incredibly powerful technology.
Our recommendation would be neither to fully ignore or fully admire, but to lean into the potential discomfort, learn the possibilities of AI and (hopefully) avoid the pitfalls.
Recently, we gathered as a staff to grapple with questions about AI, to be honest about our fears and also to try out some features of one language based tool, ChatGPT. We started with one provocation and had a conversation for almost an hour about our experiences or lack thereof, our worries for the future and our doubts about any positive outcome with AI. Then, in a move of artful adult facilitation, after our concerns were expressed, but before they were solved or resolved, we were given a chance to try out ChatGPT.
The exploration moved our group from a mood of fear, to one of possibility. We tried out many different scenarios, like the ones below:
- “make up a story about a teacher’s first day of school”
- “write a letter to a principal advocating for more teacher prep”
- “adapt the letter to sound like kids wrote it instead of an adult”
- “Write a decodable text using short a CVC words”
In seconds, we were given templates, ideas, and five paragraph essays with clear thesis and supporting evidence. As classroom teachers are prone to do, we jumped immediately into thinking about how we could adapt this for the classroom.
In future posts, we will share with you some of our ideas and ways that we are using this tool to support teachers.
But we need(ed) to reflect on the shift in our thinking. What we initially thought of as intimidating at best and sinister at worst, we now came to see for its potential. Like a child who is trying a new food for the first time, we’d prefer to take little bites. We imagine school leaders and teachers might be feeling any or all of the above.
While we are still wrestling and grappling with the technology itself and wouldn’t consider ourselves experts or even ardent amateurs, we do know how to partner with others to facilitate deep learning. We’d invite you to journey with us.