Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Title: Navigating the Controversy: AI in the Classroom - Challenges, Cheating, and Benefits

AI grapic - Looks like meteor with AI on it.
If there's one topic that's been buzzing around the teacher's lounge lately, it's the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in our classrooms. As we stand at the intersection of tradition and innovation, let's dive into the exciting yet somewhat controversial world of AI in education. Today, I'm sharing my thoughts on the concerns about cheating, along with the incredible ways AI can be a game-changer for us in K-12 and higher education.

The Cheating Conundrum: Addressing the Elephant in the Room

First things first. I get it. The thought of AI potentially leading to more cheating and academic dishonesty is unsettling. We've all worked tirelessly to cultivate a fair and honest learning environment. The idea of students exploiting AI to ace tests or assignments is worrisome. But here's the thing – technology isn't the villain; it's all about how we guide its use.

Instead of crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, let's proactively set up guidelines and ethics that show students the value of genuine effort and learning. It's our chance to shift the focus from rote memorization to meaningful understanding. By encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills, we're making cheating less tempting and helping students develop the skills they'll truly need in life.

AI: From Worry to Wow for Educators

Now, let's flip the script and talk about the exciting side of AI in education. Brace yourselves; this is where it gets interesting. AI isn't just a buzzword; it's a tool that can transform the way we teach and interact with our students.

Picture this: personalized learning pathways that cater to each student's strengths and needs. With AI, we can dive deep into analyzing how our students learn best and serve up lessons that match their unique learning styles. It's like having a teaching assistant who knows your students inside out, making your lessons more effective than ever.

And speaking of assistants, how about getting some help with those time-consuming administrative tasks? I'm talking about AI-powered grading tools that free up your precious time. This means more one-on-one interactions, more time for creativity, and more of what drew us into teaching in the first place – connecting with students.

Let's not forget about those learners who might need a little extra support. AI can be a game-changer for students with disabilities, offering real-time captions, translations, and other tools that level the playing field. It's all about creating an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.

Striking Gold: Balancing Tradition and Innovation

So, what's the bottom line here? Yes, the AI debate is real, and yes, cheating is a concern. But as educators, we've always been champions of balance. We're used to finding the sweet spot between old-school wisdom and new-age technology.

As we navigate this journey, let's keep our hearts open to the possibilities. Let's be proactive in teaching our students about the responsible use of AI, helping them see it as a tool for growth rather than a shortcut to success. And hey, let's stay curious – let's embrace training and professional development opportunities that keep us at the forefront of this ever-evolving landscape.

In the end, AI in the classroom isn't just about algorithms and data. It's about us, the educators, guiding its potential to empower our students and reshape education for the better. So, let's take that leap, blend tradition with innovation, and lead the way into a future where technology and teaching go hand in hand.

BTW, This posting was written almost completely by ChatGPT.  I made some modifications, but they were minimal. I have posted it as an experiment. I want to find out what reaction there might be to it and I want to see how I will react to using it.   Will write about these in the near future.


Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Sometimes Educators can be their OWN Worst Enemies.

Abstract Picture of a Book
I am an associate professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Northern Iowa. 

One of the classes I teach is an educator preparation course where we prepare future teachers to use technology to support learning in their classrooms. This course is provided in a T-Th 50-minute session format. 

A couple of years ago, we changed our class into a blended format. We provided the weekly lectures online so we only needed to meet for 2 days to work in our labs.  The learning strategy was that our students would read, watch, or listen to the foundational material for the week and then watch the video lecture which was between 20 - 40 minutes long. On Tuesdays, the students would break into their working groups of 3-4 individuals and discuss what they learned in preparation for this class session. 

At the beginning of the semester, this worked well. Most of my 35 students followed the learning strategy and came to our Tuesday class prepared to discuss the topic at hand.  It might be Global Collaboration, Digital Citizenship, Systematic Instructional Design, Classroom Computing, or any of a large selection of topics. 

Today's Discovery
Today, I noticed the discussions seemed strained and asked how many of my students had read the material and watched the lecture. Only 6 students raised their hands. I asked why, and they told me that they did read and watched the content after our Tuesday class. They learned a great deal in the lecture/discussion I held on Tuesday so they could use that knowledge as background for their learning.

I examined how I had run the Tuesday classes.  Instead of asking my students to provide the content for the discussions, I was providing an overview of the content in a slideshow.  This provided a source for content other than the aforementioned resources . This meant that I was completely undermining the classroom discussion pedagogy because my students were not coming prepared.  

Having realized the problem, I discussed the situation with my students.  I made it quite clear that I was not criticizing them or blaming them for the situation.  I pointed out that this was an example of a teacher working against themselves. They needed to pay attention to situations like this when they have their own classrooms and are organizing their learning environments. 

From Here Forward
One of the things that my students liked was discussing content with their group. I pointed out that if they didn't prepare for the discussion properly, they wouldn't have anything to discuss. I didn't want to deprive them of their discussion.
Before we moved on to the rest of the class, I told the students that I would be changing my teaching strategies for the rest of the semester. I would no longer present the content material but rather discuss the content with them after they had had a chance to discuss it with their group members. 

I look forward to next Tuesday to see how the discussion goes and whether or not their quiz scores have increased.   Will keep you informed.

                                                                                image: pxfuel