Engaging Students with AI

While some parts of the education world are well on their way to banning everything related to AI, some of us are excited about the potential of showing students a tool that can drastically increase productivity and expand options for students to express their creativity and demonstrate learning.

One of the teachers in my teacher fellowship asked me about introducing the process of developing and marketing a mobile app to her third-grade students. They are working on a unit about economics.

I’m a fan of the 5E lesson planning framework. If you’re unfamiliar, The 5E lesson plan is a widely used instruction model consisting of five phases: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.

During the engage phase, teachers can use various strategies to encourage students to discover more about the topic, such as an attention-grabbing hook, a thought-provoking question, or a hands-on activity. The engage phase’s goal is to create an atmosphere of curiosity and excitement, as well as to set the tone for the rest of the lesson.

I thought about creating something for the first part of this 5E framework to get the students interested in the topic of mobile app development. Perhaps a little video of a mobile app developer giving students an overview of the process?

I know access to mobile app developers is easy to come by for schools in large cities, but my schools aren’t in a large city. And I don’t have any contacts immediately available to speak to a class, whether in-person or remotely.

Which, if you weren’t aware, is the situation that so very many schools deal with every day. Access to experts in some fields isn’t readily available.

But there’s a solution.

With a little help from a few AI tools, here’s what I did…

Writing a Video Script with AI

I began by using a tool I had just learned about called TeacherBot. The folks at TeacherBot aim to “build the tool every teacher deserves.” You enter an idea into the prompt space, and TeacherBot gives you a useful output.

The TeacherBot user interface
The TeacherBot user interface

I aimed to create a script for an overview video of the mobile app development process. Here’s the prompt I gave TeacherBot to begin:

You are a software programmer. You need to introduce the concepts of coding an app for Apple’s iOS to a group of third-grade students in the United States. Create a story talking about the different phases of mobile app design and development.

I asked for a “story” and specified third-grade students to hopefully keep the response at an appropriate grade level for the students

Here’s what TeacherBot gave me in return:

TeacherBot response to prompt
TeacherBot response to prompt

Is it rudimentary? Yes. But, it is designed for a 3rd-grade audience. And it’s just an overview. If I had the learning objectives for the lesson or the unit, I might have been able to craft a better prompt or tweaked the response myself. I wanted a female speaker, so I should have indicated that in the prompt. However, that was an easy fix.

Now, I needed to create my speaker.

Creating a Speaker Image to Deliver the Script

To create an image for my speaker, I headed over to Midjourney and entered the following prompt:

minority woman, photography, depth of field f2.8 3.5, 25mm lens, 8k, ultra-realistic — v 4 — q 2 — v 4 — s 750 — uplight

I won’t go into the crafting of prompts for Midjourney here. Linus Ekenstam inspired this particular prompt, and he has a wealth of knowledge on his Twitter feed on crafting prompts.

Here are the initial results from Midjourney:

All of these images would work perfectly for this task. I wanted female minority representation for this project. Why? Because students need to know that jobs in computer programming and software development aren’t just for white men.

I choose this image from the four at random:

Now, I have my script and my speaker. Time for the final step.

Creating a Video with AI

For the final step, I turned to D-ID. After creating an account, I opened the “Create Video” tool and added the image of my speaker, and pasted my script in the script box.

An image capture of the D-ID.com interface for creating a new video.
D-ID interface

I changed the language settings to give the speaker an appropriate accent but still speak in English. Here is the final result:

Now, we have a little something to use to engage our third-grade students.

Is it perfect? Of course not. Do we still have a long way to go in the world of AI? Yes.

Will we ever get to use this tool to its fullest potential if we block it in school because we’re worried about cheating?

No.

AI is a tool, just like anything else. Use it. Be aware of what it can be used for, both for “good” and for “bad” — and keep in mind that what defines those terms is highly subjective.

But always follow Brandon Sanderson‘s Zeroth Law: “Always err on the side of what is awesome.”


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How We Might Use ChatGPT in Education

Yes, there’s more to say about ChatGPT and how we can use it in education. I’m doing my best to develop productive uses of this technology to override all the Negative Ninnys out there in Luddite Land.

I won’t have an answer for everyone, but there’s a decent chance one of the ideas I share here could inspire you to use ChatGPT yourself.

Why Some Teachers May Fear ChatGPT and other AI Tools

never be afraid on typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

First of all, let’s start here: Anytime a new technology is introduced into the world, people are apprehensive. This phenomenon is not exclusive to the education world.

New technologies can be intimidating and scary because they represent change and the unknown. People may be hesitant to adopt new technologies because they are unsure how they will work or fit into their existing way of life.

Additionally, new technologies can sometimes create uncertainty about the future and its impact on society. This fear of the unknown can lead to resistance to change and skepticism about new technologies.

For instance, bicycles were once thought to cause insanity and something called “bicycle face” that was a danger to a person’s health. Weird, I know, but totally true. Fearing new technology isn’t new.

Technology enthusiasts have to keep things in perspective when talking about new tools. Not everyone gets as excited as we do about disruptive tools, and not everyone immediately sees the potential. Patience, brethren. Change comes slowly.

Teachers might be uncertain of how to effectively incorporate ChatGPT into their classrooms, making them feel uneasy. To ensure successful implementation, teachers should become well acquainted with the tool beforehand and develop a strategy tailored specifically to it.

Another reason could be that they are concerned about the potential for the tool to be misused by students, for example, by using it to cheat on assignments or exams. Also, some teachers may be concerned about the impact of using a tool like ChatGPT on students’ critical thinking skills and ability to engage in deep learning and reasoning.

I should probably also mention that every input is being tracked, especially during this “research” phase of ChatGPT. OpenAI doesn’t hide this at all; they tell you that everything you type and every conversation generated is being tracked when you sign up. They even ask you for feedback when you get a generated response. Be aware of what is going on when using a tool like this.

Finally, there may be concerns about the ethical implications of using a tool like ChatGPT in the classroom, particularly with regard to issues such as privacy and the potential for bias in the tool’s responses. We’ve already seen the impact of widespread disinformation and how social media can influence opinions.

In case you’re curious, ChatGPT has some left-leaning and libertarian political bias.

How Can Teachers Use ChatGPT in the Classroom

smiling male mechanic repairing details in garage
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

On the other hand, teaching with ChatGPT offers educators many opportunities. The technology can be used to help students outline or organize their papers, and at its best, can serve as a powerful, fun-to-use digital tutor that works like an improved version of Google. 

Erik Ofgang

There are several ways that teachers can effectively use tools like ChatGPT in the classroom. One way is to use the tool to provide students with additional support and guidance as they work on assignments or projects.

For example, a teacher could use ChatGPT to help students brainstorm ideas, conduct research, or organize their thoughts. Additionally, the tool could provide personalized feedback to students on their work, helping them identify areas for improvement and providing them with guidance on making progress.

Another way that teachers can use ChatGPT effectively in the classroom is by incorporating it into activities designed to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For example, the tool could be used as part of a debate or discussion activity, where students could use it to generate and evaluate different arguments and perspectives on a given topic.

This can help promote deep learning and reasoning and encourage students to think more critically about the information and ideas they encounter.

Additionally, teachers can use ChatGPT to create engaging and interactive learning experiences for their students. For example, the tool could be used to create interactive quizzes or games where students can ask questions and receive answers in real time. This can help keep students engaged and motivated and provide a more dynamic and interactive learning experience.

Overall, the key to effectively using tools like ChatGPT in the classroom is to be creative and to find ways to integrate the tool into teaching and learning activities in a meaningful and engaging way. This can help to enhance students’ learning experiences and promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


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Monday Assorted Links

  1. You’re just learning about GPT-3, but folks are already working on GPT-4. Here’s what it might look like (emphasis on might)
  2. The end-of-year recommended book lists are beginning to appear. I’ll have mine out closer to the end of December. Here are a few from reputable sources:
  3. Creative consumption

Today’s Quotes

Sale
Greenlights
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Matthew McConaughey (Author) – Matthew McConaughey (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/20/2020 (Publication Date) – Random House Audio (Publisher)
Sale
Thinking, Fast and Slow
  • A good option for a Book Lover
  • It comes with proper packaging
  • Ideal for Gifting
  • Kahneman, Daniel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Sale
Fahrenheit 451
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ray Bradbury (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages – 06/16/2024 (Publication Date) – Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

Rethinking Student Work Amid AI Advances

Seth Godin has a point (as usual):

When AI is smart enough to write an essay, then what happens?

GPT3 is back in the news, because, as expected, it’s getting better and better. Using a simple chat interface, you can easily ask it a wide range of questions (write a 1,000 word essay about Clara Barton) that certainly feels like a diligent high school student wrote it.

Of course, this changes things, just as the camera, the typewriter and the internet changed things.

It means that creating huge amounts of mediocre material is easier than ever before. You can write a bad Seinfeld script in about six minutes.

It means that assigning rudimentary essays in school or average copywriting at work is now a waste of time.

But mostly it reminds us that attention and trust don’t scale.

If your work isn’t more useful or insightful or urgent than GPT can create in 12 seconds, don’t interrupt people with it.

Technology begins by making old work easier, but then it requires that new work be better.

Seth Godin

I think it’s always important to consider the work we ask students to do in our schools. As my teacher cohort works through implementing the 4 Shifts protocol, we ask questions around deeper learning and authentic work like:

  • Is student work deeply rooted in discipline-specific and -relevant knowledge, skills, and dispositions?
  • Do learning activities and assessments allow students to engage in deep critical thinking and analysis?
  • Do students have the opportunity to design, create, make, or otherwise add value that is unique to them?
  • Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by experts outside of school? 
  • Are students utilizing authentic, discipline-specific practices and processes?
  • Are students creating real-world products or performances for authentic audiences?

Of course, not every lesson or activity can be (nor should it be) an exercise in critical thinking and authentic, real-world application. But if our biggest concern about AI is whether or not students will use it to cheat, perhaps we have work to do on our classroom plans.

Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning (A Quick Guide to Educational Technology Integration and Digital Learning Spaces) (Solutions for Creating the Learning Spaces Students Deserve)
  • Scott McLeod (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 80 Pages – 09/21/2018 (Publication Date) – Solution Tree Press (Publisher)
Sale
Teaching for Deeper Learning: Tools to Engage Students in Meaning Making
  • McTighe, Jay (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 130 Pages – 01/22/2020 (Publication Date) – ASCD (Publisher)