Embracing AI isn’t just about using flashy edtech

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@add_rien_20?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Adrien</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/diagram-2IX3TlrCuZQ?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Unsplash</a>

Prince George’s County Public Schools, under the leadership of Superintendent Millard House II, is at the forefront of integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into their educational system. House believes that AI tools like ChatGPT can revolutionize classrooms by equipping students with essential digital-age skills.

House’s focus on technology and AI aligns with the district’s commitment to preparing students for a technologically advanced future. The partnership with the AI Education Project, as part of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s broader economic initiative, aims to provide cutting-edge education to students, teachers, staff, and school leaders. The district has also prioritized AI literacy and training, empowering nearly 1,500 educators to confidently use and innovate with AI tools. Addressing challenges such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, and ethical use, Prince George’s County Public Schools is dedicated to shaping a future where their community thrives in the age of AI.

AI is no longer a futuristic concept; it is a tangible reality with the potential to enhance and individualize the educational experience for a student population with diverse needs and teachers in our district. So far during the course of this school year, we have trained nearly 1,500 educators. It was amazing to watch the excitement on the staff’s faces when they got to engage with AI tools to support their work and help their students understand the power of AI.


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16 November 2023

Quote of the Day

"To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, Donald Trump does not appeal to “the better angels of our nature.”" (Michael V. Hayden, The Assault on Intelligence)

“To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, Donald Trump does not appeal to “the better angels of our nature.”” (Michael V. Hayden, The Assault on Intelligence)

Musical Interlude

Philip Glass has a new album releasing in January 2024, recorded at his home during the pandemic.

This is my piano, the instrument on which most of the music was written. It’s also the same room where I have worked for decades in the middle of the energy which New York City itself has brought to me. The listener may hear the quiet hum of New York in the background or feel the influence of time and memory that this space affords. To the degree possible, I made this record to invite the listener in.

– Philip Glass

Long Read of the Day

Taruna Goel highlights how digital literacy has transformed from basic computer skills to a complex skill set involving creation, curation, and critical evaluation of digital content.

This framework includes eight thematic competencies: ethical and legal; technology; information literacy; digital scholarship; communication and collaboration; creation and curation; digital well-being; and community-based learning. Through a scenario involving an educator, Professor Emily, and a student, Alex, the article demonstrates the integration of these competencies into the educational journey, emphasizing that digital literacy is crucial for academic, professional, and personal success in a digitally-driven world

The Digital Literacy Framework is a part of the overall B.C. Digital Learning Strategy developed by the Digital Learning Advisory Committee, a collaboration between the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills and the post-secondary system. The Digital Literacy Framework has been developed to enhance digital literacy knowledge, skills, and abilities across post-secondary communities. The framework includes eight thematic competencies within digital literacy: ethical and legal; technology; information literacy; digital scholarship; communication and collaboration; creation and curation; digital well-being; and community-based learning.

Photo of the Day

I didn’t realize it this morning, but it’s Red Cup Day at Starbucks. In my ignorance, I also didn’t know that many baristas walked out today to fight for better wages. Kudos to them. And thanks for my demon cups.

starbucks red cups

Final Thoughts

I love tools that let us learn more about our universe, especially when they are available online.

Astronomers have created the Siena Galaxy Atlas, freely available online. The SGA catalogs 383,620 galaxies, a small fraction of the estimated 200 billion to two trillion galaxies in the observable universe. This atlas stands out for its extensive coverage and advanced data collection, encompassing 7,637 downloadable pages with detailed information on each galaxy’s size, morphology, and images in optical and infrared wavelengths.

The data is drawn from three Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument Legacy Surveys, making it one of the largest surveys ever conducted. The SGA is noted for being the first cosmic atlas to feature light profiles of galaxies, providing a unique insight into their brightness changes from center to edge. It’s a valuable resource for scientists studying galaxy evolution, dark matter distribution, and gravitational waves, as well as for enhancing the public’s understanding of the universe.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Creating and Sustaining Change in Public Education

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“All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Change is good. At least, that’s what I’ve heard from any number of well-meaning people. Change often means growth and fresh ideas, but it also means the death and destruction of old ideas. And, change often means returning to another time or to other practices that worked.

Or maybe they didn’t. Perhaps we just long for a return to comfort and normalcy.

Regardless, every institution can and does experience change, whether people on the inside of the organization deliberately create change or outside forces create “jolts” in the system and force change (cite p. 330).

Kentucky public education has had two considerable jolts that I’m aware of (and I’m showing my age for one of them): the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) of 1990 and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. KERA was a jolt that began as the work of change agents, but that whole COVID thing… we’re still not sure who the change agents were (it was totally the bats), but it was still one heck of a jolt.

I was in high school when KERA became a thing. Along with it came these things called “portfolios” that were going to revolutionize Kentucky schools. Spoiler alert: they didn’t. That failure has more to do with the implementation of change than the idea of change.

What many public schools in Kentucky have been able to do since the days of KERA is to continue pushing for creative solutions to difficult problems. They’ve also continued to make space for change agents in various positions across the state and in local schools. Of course, without effective leaders ready to change the constructed reality within a school, any change efforts will likely fail, and the same cycle of “all this has happened before,” continues as it has so many times in education.

“What’s past is prologue.”

– Shakespeare, The Tempest

After the COVID-19 pandemic (has it ended yet?), I’ve seen more concerted efforts to maintain institutional change here in Kentucky. With many districts instituting graduate profiles, the structures needed to support and maintain change are moving into place.

With the environment ripe for change after the COVID-19 upheaval, small changes in institutional processes are making their way across the state and have the potential to sustain change for the future.

References:

Marion, R., & Gonzales, L. D. (2014). Leadership in education: Organizational theory for the practitioner (Second). Waveland Press.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Schooling for Democracy in a Time of Global Crisis

democracy
Photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash

And away we go…

“I am convinced that people are much better off when their whole city is flourishing than when certain citizens prosper, but the community has gone off course. When a man is doing well for himself, but his country is falling to pieces, he goes to pieces along with it, but a struggling individual has much better hopes if his country is thriving.”

Is that a line from the newest radical left-wing idealist politician?

Nope.

It’s Pericles. In Athens. In 431 BC.

If we choose to believe Thucydides.

Stewart Riddle emphasizes the importance of public institutions in caring, democratic societies, where markets and market relations are subordinate to the public good and the production of a thick democracy. He suggests that economic systems that foster individual wealth accumulation and rampant greed must be replaced with economic systems that foster sustainability and reindustrialization. Investment into people’s livelihoods within their local communities is emphasized, and people should be allowed to engage in meaningful, collaborative work.

Of course, for me, this sounds similar to the work of instituting a graduate profile in schools rather than relying on the tired, outdated, and ineffective measures of standardized testing. Connecting students with authentic learning opportunities, encouraging them to work on hard problems that don’t have simple answers, and contributing to their communities for the benefit of the many and not the few are key to shifting away from the late-stage capitalist disaster we live in now.

Marcus Aurelius said, “What harms the bee, harms the hive,” emphasizing that if we are harming anyone in society, the whole society suffers. This was never more apparent than during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as some cried that their individual freedoms were more important than the good of everyone, essentially placing themselves above everyone else.

Connecting students with opportunities to enact real change within the structures of education can only improve our society. Will we still have people who think they are more important than anyone else? Of course.

But maybe we can raise up a generation of action-takers who want what is best for everyone.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Top 10 Books for Teachers to Kickstart the New School Year

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As the new school year begins, it’s essential for teachers to equip themselves with the right tools to navigate the challenges ahead. Among these tools, books can be a great source of inspiration, guidance, and self-care. Here are ten books that every teacher should consider reading as they embark on a new academic year.

The Happy Teacher Habits: 11 Habits of the Happiest, Most Effective Teachers on Earth by Michael Linsin

This book provides practical strategies for teachers to maintain positivity and effectiveness in the classroom. Linsin emphasizes the importance of habits in shaping our lives and offers insights on how to develop habits that lead to happiness and success in teaching.

The Happy Teacher Habits: 11 Habits of the Happiest, Most Effective Teachers on Earth
  • Linsin, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages – 04/30/2016 (Publication Date) – JME Publishing (Publisher)

Quote: “Happiness isn’t something that just happens to you. It’s a choice. It’s a decision you make every morning, that you’re going to have a good day.”

Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56 by Rafe Esquith

Esquith shares his innovative teaching methods and the extraordinary results they have yielded in his classroom. His passion for teaching and advocating for his students is infectious.

Sale
Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56
  • Esquith, Rafe (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 243 Pages – 12/18/2007 (Publication Date) – Penguin Books (Publisher)

Quote: “Real success is when a teacher is able to work under the hardest conditions and still turn out to be a great person. That’s real success.”

The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter–One Month at a Time by Jennifer Ashton, M.D.

This book is a must-read for teachers who want to prioritize their health and well-being. Dr. Ashton provides a month-by-month guide to self-care that includes diet, exercise, and mental health strategies.

Sale
The Self-Care Solution: A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter–One Month at a Time
  • Ashton M.D., Jennifer (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages – 12/28/2021 (Publication Date) – William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

Quote: “Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

The Power of a Positive Team: Proven Principles and Practices that Make Great Teams Great by Jon Gordon

Gordon’s book is a guide to maintaining positivity and unity within a team, making it a great read for teachers who want to foster a positive learning environment.

Sale
The Power of a Positive Team: Proven Principles and Practices that Make Great Teams Great (Jon Gordon)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Gordon, Jon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages – 06/13/2018 (Publication Date) – Wiley (Publisher)

Quote: “A positive team is not just about being connected to each other. It’s about being committed to each other.”

Educated by Design: Designing the Space to Experiment, Explore, and Extract Your Creative Potential by Michael Cohen

This book encourages teachers to advocate for creativity in the classroom. Cohen provides a roadmap for designing a creative space that encourages students to explore their potential.

Educated by Design: Designing the Space to Experiment, Explore, and Extract Your Creative Potential
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Cohen, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 248 Pages – 12/31/2018 (Publication Date) – Dave Burgess Consulting, Incorporated (Publisher)

Quote: “Creativity is not just about making ‘stuff’, it’s more importantly about developing a creative thinking mindset.”

The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life by Parker J. Palmer

Palmer’s book delves into the heart of the teaching profession, exploring the inner lives of educators. It’s a powerful read for teachers seeking to reconnect with their passion for the profession.

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The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Palmer, Parker J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 09/05/2017 (Publication Date) – Jossey-Bass (Publisher)

Quote: “Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.”

Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom by Meena Srinivasan

Srinivasan offers insights into how mindfulness can help teachers manage stress and foster a peaceful classroom. It’s a practical guide for teachers seeking to achieve work-life balance.

Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness in and out of the Classroom
  • Srinivasan, Meena (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages – 08/10/2014 (Publication Date) – Parallax Press (Publisher)

Quote: “When we cultivate our own mindfulness, we’re actually benefiting our students indirectly because we’re modeling what it looks like to be present.”

The Burnout Cure: Learning to Love Teaching Again by Chase Mielke

Mielke’s book is a lifeline for teachers feeling the strain of burnout. It provides strategies for maintaining enthusiasm for teaching and advocating for the profession.

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The Burnout Cure: Learning to Love Teaching Again
  • Mielke, Chase (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 230 Pages – 03/19/2019 (Publication Date) – ASCD (Publisher)

Quote: “We can’t control the kids or the content or the new initiatives or the old initiatives, but we can control how we think and feel about them.”

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

Miller’s book is a testament to the power of reading and the impact a passionate teacher can have on their students. It’s a must-read for teachers who want to inspire a love of reading in their students.

Quote: “There is no program, no method, no teacher who can create readers. What we can do is provide the conditions that allow reading to happen.”

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Brown’s book explores the concept of vulnerability and how it can lead to greater connection and a more fulfilling life. It’s a powerful read for teachers who want to foster deeper connections with their students and colleagues.

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Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Brené Brown (Author) – Brené Brown (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/26/2018 (Publication Date) – Penguin Audio (Publisher)

Quote: “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

Each of these books offers unique insights into the teaching profession, self-care, and maintaining a positive attitude. As you prepare for the new school year, consider adding these books to your reading list. They may provide just the inspiration you need to make this year your best yet.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Revolutionizing K-12 Education: The Role of Generative AI Tools

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The world of education, specifically K-12, is on the brink of a significant transformation. The catalyst? Generative AI tools. These tools, such as Large Language Models (LLMs) and ChatGPT, are heralding a new era of automation, promising to reshape how we approach administrative and teaching tasks in schools.

Generative AI tools are a generational leap in what we can automate with software. They are not just about replacing human effort but also about creating entirely new kinds of automation. The potential impact on jobs and people is profound, and the pace of change is rapid. For instance, ChatGPT has already amassed over 100 million users in just six months.

The world of education is no stranger to automation. Over the past two centuries, we’ve seen waves of automation that have eliminated certain jobs while creating new ones. This process, while sometimes disruptive, has ultimately led to increased prosperity and efficiency.

For school administrators and teachers, generative AI tools could automate many tasks, freeing up time for more strategic and student-focused activities. For example, these tools could automate administrative tasks such as scheduling, record-keeping, and communication with parents. They could also assist teachers with tasks such as grading, lesson planning, and even providing personalized learning support for students.

However, the adoption of these tools is not without challenges. The tools that people use to do their jobs are complicated and very specialized, embodying a lot of work and institutional knowledge. Replacing or automating any of these tools and tasks is not trivial. There’s a huge difference between an amazing demo of a transformative technology and something that a big complicated organization can use.

Moreover, while generative AI tools can answer ‘anything’, the answer might be wrong. They are not databases but pattern matchers. They can produce answers that fit the pattern of the question but may not be factually correct. This means that while they can automate many tasks, their outputs still need to be checked.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of generative AI tools in K-12 education are immense. They could lead to more efficient administration, more personalized learning, and ultimately, better educational outcomes for students. However, it’s important to remember that these tools are not a magic bullet. They are just another wave of automation, and their successful implementation will require careful planning, training, and adjustment.

In conclusion, generative AI tools hold great promise for automating tasks in K-12 education. However, their adoption will require careful planning and a clear understanding of their capabilities and limitations. As with any new technology, the key to success will be in how well we integrate these tools into our existing systems and processes, and how well we adapt to the new ways of working they enable.

FAQ

  1. What is generative AI? Generative AI, including Large Language Models (LLMs) and ChatGPT, represents a significant change in what we can automate with software. It’s not just about replacing human effort but also about creating entirely new kinds of automation.
  2. How fast is the adoption of generative AI tools like ChatGPT? The adoption is happening very rapidly. For instance, ChatGPT has amassed over 100 million users in just six months.
  3. What is the potential impact of generative AI on jobs? Generative AI tools have the potential to automate many tasks, which could lead to job displacement. However, similar to previous waves of automation, they could also create new types of jobs.
  4. What challenges are associated with the adoption of generative AI tools? The tools people use to do their jobs are complicated and very specialized, embodying much work and institutional knowledge. Replacing or automating any of these tools and tasks is not trivial. Additionally, while generative AI tools can answer ‘anything,’ the answer might be wrong as they are not databases but pattern matchers.
  5. What is the potential of generative AI tools in the education sector? In the education sector, generative AI tools could automate many administrative tasks and assist teachers with tasks such as grading, lesson planning, and even providing personalized learning support for students.
  6. What is the future of generative AI tools? The future of generative AI tools is likely to involve more automation, but also more integration with existing systems and processes. Their successful implementation will require careful planning, training, and adjustment.
  7. What is the ‘Lump of Labour’ fallacy? The ‘Lump of Labour’ fallacy is the misconception that there is a fixed amount of work to be done and that if a machine takes some work, there will be less work for people. However, if it becomes cheaper to use a machine to make, say, a pair of shoes, then the shoes are cheaper, more people can buy shoes, and they have more money to spend on other things besides, and we discover new things we need or want, and new jobs.
  8. What is the Jevons Paradox? The Jevons Paradox suggests that as technological progress increases the efficiency with which a resource is used, the total consumption of that resource may increase rather than decrease. This paradox has been applied to white-collar work for 150 years.
  9. What is AGI (Artificial General Intelligence)? AGI refers to a type of artificial intelligence that is as capable as a human at any intellectual task. If we had AGI, it could potentially change everything, including overriding all the complexity of real people, real companies, and the real economy. However, as of now, we do not have AGI, and without that, we have only another wave of automation.
  10. How can generative AI tools help in personalized learning? Generative AI tools can provide personalized learning support for students by adapting to each student’s learning style and pace. They can provide additional explanations, practice problems, and feedback, making learning more effective and engaging.
  11. Can generative AI tools replace teachers? While generative AI tools can assist with tasks such as grading and lesson planning, they are not a replacement for teachers. Teachers play a crucial role in motivating students, managing the classroom, and providing emotional support, among other things. These are aspects that cannot be automated.
  12. What is the role of generative AI tools in administrative tasks? Generative AI tools can automate administrative tasks such as scheduling, record-keeping, and communication with parents. This can free up time for school administrators to focus on more strategic tasks.
  13. What is the difference between a database and a pattern matcher in the context of generative AI tools? While databases store and retrieve factual information, pattern matchers, like generative AI tools, generate responses based on patterns they’ve learned from data. This means they can produce answers that fit the pattern of the question but may not be factually correct.
  14. What is the importance of careful planning and training in adopting generative AI tools? The successful implementation of generative AI tools requires careful planning and training. This is because these tools must be integrated into existing systems and processes, and users need to understand their capabilities and limitations.
  15. What does it mean that generative AI tools are not a magic bullet? This means that while generative AI tools hold great promise, they are not a solution to all problems. Their successful implementation will require careful planning, training, and adjustment. They are just another wave of automation, and their impact will depend on how well we adapt to the new ways of working they enable.
  16. What is the potential impact of generative AI tools on educational outcomes? By automating administrative tasks and assisting with teaching tasks, generative AI tools could lead to more efficient administration, more personalized learning, and, ultimately, better educational outcomes for students.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

What I’ve Been Reading

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Photo by Vincenzo Malagoli on Pexels.com
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Secret Project #3, Yumi and the Nightmare Painter, was a fun dive into a new corner of the Cosmere
  • Street Data has added so much to my thinking and work toward my dissertation
  • The Civil Rights Road to Deeper Learning has also been an excellent companion in the past few weeks
  • I finished up the Licanius Trilogy this week. What a complex, mind-bending journey into a new realm of fantasy and magic. I came away with a couple of favorite characters and a new way of thinking about how to write epic fantasy.

If you’re on Goodreads or Storygraph, let’s connect and see where our reading journeys take us.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Rethinking AI in Education: The Unintended Consequences of AI Detection Tools

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In the rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence (AI), we are constantly faced with new challenges and ethical dilemmas. One such issue has recently been brought to light by a study published in The Guardian. The study reveals a concerning bias in AI detection tools, particularly against non-native English speakers.

These AI detection tools are designed to identify whether a piece of text has been written by a human or generated by an AI. They are increasingly being used in academic and professional settings to prevent what some consider a new form of cheating – using AI to write essays or job applications. However, the study found that these tools often incorrectly flag work produced by non-native English speakers as AI-generated.

The researchers tested seven popular AI text detectors using 91 English essays written by non-native speakers. Over half of these essays, written for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), were incorrectly identified as AI-generated. In stark contrast, when essays written by native English-speaking eighth graders in the US were tested, over 90% were correctly identified as human-generated.

The bias seems to stem from how these detectors assess what is human and what is AI-generated. They use a measure called “text perplexity”, which gauges how “surprised” or “confused” a generative language model is when trying to predict the next word in a sentence. Large language models like ChatGPT are trained to produce low perplexity text, which means that if humans use a lot of common words in a familiar pattern in their writing, their work is at risk of being mistaken for AI-generated text. This risk is greater with non-native English speakers, who are more likely to adopt simpler word choices.

The implications of these findings are serious. AI detectors could falsely flag college and job applications as AI-generated, and marginalize non-native English speakers on the internet, as search engines such as Google downgrade what is assessed to be AI-generated content. In education, non-native students bear more risks of false accusations of cheating, which can be detrimental to a student’s academic career and psychological well-being.

In light of these findings, Jahna Otterbacher at the Cyprus Center for Algorithmic Transparency at the Open University of Cyprus suggests a different approach. Instead of fighting AI with more AI, we should develop an academic culture that promotes the use of generative AI in a creative, ethical manner. She warns that AI models like ChatGPT, which are constantly learning from public data, will eventually learn to outsmart any detector.

This study serves as a reminder that as we continue to integrate AI into our lives, we must remain vigilant about its potential unintended consequences. It’s crucial that we continue to question and scrutinize the tools we use, especially when they have the potential to discriminate or cause harm. As we move forward, let’s ensure that our use of AI in education and other sectors is not only innovative but also fair and ethical.

For more details, you can read the full article here.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

“The Precipice” – A Call to Action for Modern Education: Embracing Existential Risk and Our Students’ Future

"We need to take decisive steps to end this period of escalating risk and safeguard our future. Fortunately, it is in our power to do so. The greatest risks are caused by human action, and they can be addressed by human action." (Toby Ord, The Precipice)

In the sphere of educational research, we continually aim to find ways to deepen student learning, foster student agency, and promote equity. As we delve into this task, we encounter a range of theories and viewpoints, all of which provoke thought and prompt reevaluation of our established norms. A recent encounter with Toby Ord’s book, “The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity,” has stimulated such reconsideration, expanding the discourse on the role of education in navigating existential risks.

Ord’s masterstroke lies in the urgent need to address existential risks—threats that could cause our extinction or irreversibly cripple our potential. These risks include natural hazards, such as asteroids and supervolcanoes, but are mainly human-made perils, like nuclear war, climate change, and potential drawbacks of advanced AI. Our task is to translate this narrative into the context of our educational mission.

Sale
Precipice
  • Ord, Toby (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages – 03/23/2021 (Publication Date) – Hachette Books (Publisher)

Reimagining education involves recognizing that the stakes have never been higher. With humanity on the precipice, the school system must incorporate deeper learning, fostering an understanding of complex, real-world issues such as climate change, artificial intelligence, and geopolitical tensions. Students need to grasp the gravity of these issues, discern the links between them, and understand how their actions can contribute to solutions.

Ord’s ideas also resonate strongly with the need to enhance student agency. As we navigate this precipice, the active participation of students in their learning becomes paramount. They must be involved in problem-solving, decision-making, and value formation regarding the issues at hand. Incorporating project-based learning and collaborative problem-solving into the curriculum are ways to prepare our students to address existential risks and steer humanity away from the brink.

The theme of equity is an undercurrent in “The Precipice,” particularly when considering who suffers most from these existential risks. It’s a stark reminder that educational equity is more than just an ideal; it’s a necessity. Students from all backgrounds must have equal opportunities to understand and confront existential risks. To achieve this, we must remove barriers to high-quality education, ensure diverse representation, and empower students with the skills, knowledge, and tools to shape the future positively.

Toby Ord’s “The Precipice” is not a book about education per se, but it holds an urgent lesson for all educators. Our current education system, with its emphasis on standardized testing and rigid curriculums, falls short of preparing students for the existential risks we face. But by embracing deeper learning, promoting student agency, and ensuring educational equity, we can better prepare our students to navigate and shape their futures in this uncertain world.

To paraphrase Ord, we are the stewards of humanity’s future. It’s our responsibility to educate our students with this in mind. Let’s not shrink away from this precipice but rather use it as a springboard to leap toward a more informed, engaged, and equitable education system. It’s not just our students’ futures at stake – it’s the future of all humanity.

FAQ

Q1: What are the main themes in “The Precipice” by Toby Ord?

A1: The primary themes in “The Precipice” include existential risk, the future of humanity, artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war, and the responsibilities of our generation to future generations.

Q2: What does Ord mean by “existential risk”?

A2: By “existential risk,” Ord refers to potential threats that could cause human extinction or drastically hinder our ability to reach our potential. These threats could be natural (like asteroids and supervolcanoes) or human-made (such as nuclear war, advanced artificial intelligence, and climate change).

Q3: How does Ord propose we should respond to these existential risks?

A3: Ord suggests that humanity needs to recognize these risks and take coordinated, strategic action to mitigate them. He emphasizes the need for comprehensive research, international cooperation, ethical decision-making, and the prioritization of long-term sustainability over short-term gains.

Q4: How does the book relate to the concept of “student agency”?

A4: Although not directly about education, “The Precipice” can be related to student agency in the context of preparing learners to navigate, understand, and act on existential risks. It advocates for empowering students to become active participants in their learning, equipping them with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed to confront these global challenges.

Q5: What is the connection between the book and the concept of educational equity?

A5: The existential risks outlined in the book have unequal impacts on different populations, reflecting the broader issues of global inequality. In an educational context, this underscores the importance of providing equal opportunities for students of all backgrounds to learn about, understand, and address these risks.

Q6: How can “The Precipice” be used to inform educational practices and policies?

A6: “The Precipice” can guide educators towards integrating deeper learning about real-world issues into the curriculum. It encourages the promotion of student agency, collaborative problem-solving, and project-based learning. Moreover, it underscores the necessity of ensuring that all students, irrespective of their backgrounds, have equal access to quality education and the tools needed to shape the future positively.


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UK universities set out plans to use AI in teaching

The Russell Group, a collective of 24 public research universities in the UK, has published new principles outlining how its institutions will responsibly and ethically use AI technologies like ChatGPT.

The guidelines, agreed upon by all the group’s vice-chancellors, include training staff to help students use AI tools and adapting teaching and assessment methods to incorporate AI technology. The group believes this could enhance student learning experiences and prepare them for real-world applications of these technologies.

However, there are concerns about students using AI to complete coursework and assessments, which some academics view as undetectable cheating. As a result, all Russell Group institutions have updated their academic codes of conduct to reflect developments in AI and clarify when its use is inappropriate. Read the full article here.