Author Archives: Catrina Hunter
Bot to the Future
Tonight’s debate was another great battle. Both groups did a great job defending their side of the argument. Considering the information they presented, as well as my own research, my belief is that AI technologies like ChatGPT have the opportunity to enhance learning but I do not think the technology alone will revolutionize education for the better. For this blog, I have decided to focus on ChatGPT in particular and its potential impact on education What do the profs say? The explosion of ChatGPT into the mainstream has happened quickly. In January, CBC’s Jessica Wong wrote an article titled, “Curveball or game changer? ChatGPT, AI tools under watch on Canadian campuses.” According to Western University assistant professor of information and media studies Luke Stark, “ChatGPT is just one of many technological curveballs that higher education has had to deal with over the last few years.” Stark said teachers should not shy away from this new technology. He encourages teachers to “do a little research yourself and then bring it up in class.” Furthermore, he believes “the key thing is to be engaged [and] honest with your students, to remind them that they want to be here. They want to be learning.” UBC Okanagan psychology professor Liane Gabora agrees that teachers should embrace the new technology. She said she is encouraging her students to test its limits while reminding them that the school can detect AI-generated essays. According to Gabora, “we can’t go backward, right? It’s here with us and it’s going to stay.” However, associate professor of education at the University of Calgary Sarah Elaine Eaton also reminds us that “the human imagination isn’t going anywhere. Creativity isn’t going anywhere.” In another January article, Jon Parsons from the University of Waterloo wrote about ChatGPT and its potential impact on education. Marcel O’Gorman, a professor in the Department of English at the university said “the first thing you have to say is it’s super disruptive.” O’Gorman said the technology offers positives and negatives “because if people suddenly don’t know if something is generated by a bot, that might further exacerbate the erosion of trust we’re experiencing.” O’Gorman said there are also ways to prevent students from being tempted to use ChatGPT to cheat by adapting the types of assessment that teachers use, which seems to be a common thread in recent articles written on the subject of this type of AI in the classroom. Considering the points brought up in both of these articles, I tend to agree with what the professors are saying. We should learn about emerging AI, and incorporate it where we can but not expect it to replace what we do as teachers. What does ChatGPT think? If we want to find out if AI will change education for the better, we should probably go to the source. I asked Chat GPT, “Will ChatGPT and AI technologies revolutionize education for the better?” Before I finished my sip of coffee it spit out the following: AI technologies, including natural language processing and machine learning, have already begun to revolutionize education in many ways. Here are some potential benefits that could be brought about by ChatGPT and other AI technologies in education: Personalized learning: AI can help personalize the learning experience for individual students by analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. This can enable educators to tailor their approach and provide more effective instruction. Greater access: AI technologies can help provide greater access to education for people in remote or underserved areas by providing online courses and other educational resources. Improved assessment: AI can provide more accurate and efficient assessments of student progress, allowing educators to identify areas where students need additional support and provide targeted interventions. Enhanced collaboration: AI can facilitate collaboration between students and teachers, enabling more effective communication and feedback. More efficient administrative processes: AI can automate administrative processes such as grading, scheduling, and record-keeping, freeing up educators to focus on teaching. While there are certainly challenges and risks associated with the use of AI in education, there is also significant potential for positive impact. As AI technologies continue to advance and become more sophisticated, it is likely that they will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of education. What do I think? There you have it. Right from the artificial horse’s mouth. While I think the AI-generated answer holds some merit, I don’t think each point is as simple as the answer suggests. AI can certainly play a role in allowing greater access to education. It may also be able to personalize learning and help teachers grade and give feedback more easily. But many of the argued improvements or enhancements need to start with an educator and their connection with students. We are still discovering how AI technologies will impact our everyday lives. Developments seem to be moving faster than ChatGPT can fire off an answer to any question we might have. How can educators expect to keep up with this stunning technology? Well, maybe we can’t. But what we can do is educate ourselves about how to use the technology and how it can help our students learn. We must do this without forgetting we are human and not computers. Students need interpersonal relationships with their teachers and their peers to help them learn at their best. AI can be one of the many tools to help them understand the world and enrich their learning. But it will not replace the teacher-student learning environment that has lasted for centuries.
Social Media for Social Justice?
Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent a significant amount of time reflecting on what each team shared in their arguments for whether or not teachers have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice. Amanda and Jacquie articulated the benefits of using online platforms to support students in becoming more socially aware and to help increase their understanding of social justice issues. Ramsel discussed the idea that teachers should remain neutral in order to help students develop critical thinking skills. After considering both sides of the debate, as well as the readings and research about this topic, I have come to the conclusion that teachers are not necessarily responsible for teaching students about social justice online, but most definitely should support this type of learning in their classrooms. What do the experts say about teaching social justice? In her blog post titled The Power of Teacher Neutrality, Taryn Bond Cleggfor shares helpful strategies that teachers can use with students when trying to promote critical thinking. These strategies also provide opportunities for students to use inquiry skills to investigate information on a topic and figure out answers with guidance, rather than the teacher giving students all the information and shutting down the thinking process. Bond Cleggfor suggests teachers do the following when trying to encourage critical thought: “ask probing questions, turn it back to the students, don’t be afraid of wrong answers, be neutral about the answer but still help to guide the learning, de-value the answer & re-value the learning” In another article, Kristen Parker shares research findings from a study that looks at whether political neutrality in classrooms is actually neutral. Lead researcher Alyssa Dunn and her co-researchers “argue that by remaining neutral, teachers are enacting the opposite of neutrality by ‘choosing to maintain the status quo and further marginalizing certain groups.’” Furthermore, “Dunn and her colleagues say the election is just one example of a renewed call for all teachers to consider the ethics of neutrality in the classroom.” The article, Teaching Social Justice in Theory and Practice by Caitrin Blake, makes no mention of using social media to teach about social justice issues. The article’s main focus is on the importance of teaching social justice in the classroom which I totally agree with. Blake explains that “social justice doesn’t manifest in a singular fashion, nor is it achieved through a specific means of instruction.” This statement leads me to believe that this type of learning does not necessarily have to happen through social media, although it should definitely be part of classroom instruction. Furthermore, she shares that “in addition to academic instruction, one of a classroom teacher’s most important roles is to help students develop the critical thinking, collaboration, and self-reflection skills necessary to foster a better society.” Teaching social justice is important…but does it have to happen online? I absolutely think teachers are responsible for helping students understand, discuss, and engage with social justice issues. Teachers should create a classroom environment that fosters the development of critical thinking skills and models anti-oppressive education; however, I’m not sure if this instruction also needs to be done online through social media or other platforms. When considering my own use of online platforms, I mainly use my personal social media accounts to post the occasional pictures of my family, and other than that, I am not particularly active online. I think I may be struggling with this topic because, from my own experience, I have not used social media in the way that’s being discussed in this week’s debate. Because of this, I don’t really see social media as the place where this type of learning has to take place. Based on this realization, here is where I have finally landed in terms of my position on this week’s debate. I believe teachers absolutely have a responsibility to teach the students in their classrooms to be socially justice-minded; however, I don’t think this necessarily has to be done online. In order to support students in this type of learning, I think a teacher’s presence and guidance are vital. According to Blake, “in order to foster classroom social justice, teachers must first build a safe, encouraging place where students can speak about their experiences and beliefs.” Furthermore, Blake expresses that “ideally, students should view each other as academic siblings or co-learners instead of competitors. This perspective allows students to understand that while disagreements may occur, they must work together to increase their knowledge.” Teachers should be there with students to help them through the challenges of learning about social justice-related topics, and I personally don’t think this can be done as effectively online as it can be in the classroom.
Whose job is it anyway?
Who is responsible for helping students create their digital footprint? After listening to and considering both sides of this debate, I would argue that schools, parents, and teachers all play an important role; it is our collective responsibility to work with young people to help them understand the complexities of the online world and how to exist within it. The digital world is completely intertwined with our everyday lives, whether we want it to be or not, making it difficult to differentiate between someone’s online and offline identities. I have been thinking quite a lot about this debate topic since last week. Not only have I considered the importance of teaching young adults about creating a positive digital footprint, but I have also considered my own digital footprint and what that means for me as an adult and parent. I have considered this topic from multiple perspectives and the more I think about it, the more I agree with the idea that teachers have a responsibility to help students develop a digital footprint. What is my role as a teacher? Although Jessica and Rahima brought forward a strong argument against this week’s debate topic, I still believe teachers should take some responsibility in helping students understand their digital footprint. This article states that “as learning becomes more digital, educators at all levels are instrumental in building students’ understanding about how their online presence impacts both their personal and future professional lives. Educators are also instrumental in helping students develop lifelong habits to create and maintain a positive online identity.” The article continues to discuss the importance of equipping students with the appropriate skills needed to manage their online presence. When I consider this responsibility, I don’t necessarily feel equipped to educate students on a topic that I am not completely familiar with; however, my lack of knowledge doesn’t mean I can just avoid teaching about it altogether. Moving forward, I will seek out opportunities to learn more about digital literacy so that I can provide students with a better understanding of the topic. This article provides a starting point for fostering digital citizenship in the classroom giving advice about how “schools can train students to be safe and well-informed, responsible digital citizens:” Design a robust digital citizenship curriculum. Counsel students that “what goes online stays online.” Craft an empowering acceptable use policy for students. Teach students their digital rights. Advise parents of new social media and online trends. Provide an easy-to-understand guide for online behavior. Equip teachers and parents with EdTech programs and practices to manage children’s Internet use. Do parents have a responsibility? In addition to teachers, I believe that parents should also play a role in helping their kids learn about digital citizenship. In his TED talk “Accountability & Responsibility in a Digital Age,” Paul Davis discusses how parents and students need to take on some of the responsibility that comes with being a good online citizen. Parents, teachers, and schools can work together to help students navigate the online world. Davis discusses that we are all responsible for what we post and do online. Bringing in a speaker like Davis to address students and parents in a school setting would be a great way to help students and adults alike get a better handle on the issues surrounding digital citizenship. Analyzing my own digital footprint After watching Keegan Korf’s TED talk I decided to go online to check out my own digital footprint. I don’t consider myself particularly active on social media or other online platforms but wanted to make sure I felt comfortable with my online presence. When searching my name on Google, I did not find anything too concerning. My name is fairly common, so only a couple of search results actually related to me. However, one thing that surprised me was a picture of me and my daughters that came up in the image search results. I am fairly thoughtful about not posting photos of my kids to any public platforms so I was surprised to see this particular photo show up. I realized that the image had been shared on a public Twitter account a few years ago. I tried to delete it from Twitter but I wasn’t able to clear the image from the search. Hopefully, my kids aren’t too upset with the fact that this photo of them is shared online for anyone to see (after reading this article, I am concerned about a possible negative reaction). I did find it interesting, however, that I couldn’t find any results online when searching for my maiden name, likely because I changed my name right around the time social media gained popularity. Navigating New Territory So much of our lives are spent on our phones and computers. Students and adults alike need to gain a better understanding of how to exist as digital citizens. My husband is a journalist for CBC. I asked him his thoughts on this topic. This is what he shared with me based on his experiences: “I can find so much information about you so quickly…even if you’re not posting about a topic, it’s easy to find out what someone is liking on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s easy to find multiple examples per day of people not understanding their digital footprint. We are underselling how important learning this skill is.” Here is a news article that shows just how little some adults understand about their digital footprint. Students definitely aren’t the only people who need help navigating the online world. The devices we use on a daily basis can be incredible tools if we know how to use them properly. The technology we all have access to is fairly new, and as a whole, we haven’t necessarily been taught the best ways to use the powerful tool we have been given. Moving forward, it will be important to consider how we (re)educate people regarding their digital footprint, and I believe teachers have an important role to play in this.
Equity through technology? It’s not that simple…
Technology has provided society with access to some pretty amazing tools. Kennedy and Ummey’s opening statement presented several examples of this. They both did a great job describing the positive impacts technology can have on people’s ability to learn, raise awareness or funds for important causes, stand up for social justice issues, and connect with people from other places or cultures, just to name a few. I was impressed with the depth of their research; however, Graeme and Jeff’s argument as well as the articles and information shared for this week’s debate topic have convinced me to stick to the position that technology has not led to a more equitable society. If certain people are excluded from the benefits of technology due to socio-economic status, location, or race, then it is clear that not everyone is getting the same benefits from the technological tools that are available in today’s society. In their posts this week, both Jeff and Will made reference to the concept of the Digital Mattew Effect which according to Neuman and Celano is “the tendency for early advantages to multiply over time” — which is to say that people who start off with more skilled exposure to technology will have an exponentially greater advantage over those with less exposure. This same article states that tech is actually “increasing the gap between rich and poor, between whites and minorities, and between the school-ready and the less-prepared.” In this Harvard Political Review article by Alyvia Bruce shared by Graeme and Jeff, the concern with technology is that students “are facing even more challenges as the technology gap widens. A student’s ability to have at-home learning resources is largely dependent on factors such as location, socioeconomic status, and race.” Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic and the forced shift to online learning highlighted this inequity within my own classroom and school. When students were sent home in March 2020, some students did not have the technology or internet access needed to participate fully in online classes. Even though teachers did their best to make sure school work was still accessible to all students, the impact of virtual learning affected some students in a more negative way than others. In her article, Bruce continues by advising that “it is important to recognize that certain groups of students have many more obstacles to overcome to be on equal footing with their peers.” When making the gradual return back to in-person learning, there was a noticeable disparity between the students who had access to online learning technology and those who did not. The inequity caused by access to technology was evident. So, where do we go from here? Is there any way to close the gap? Bruce’s article states that increasing funding, expanding at-home technology access, and creating community partnerships are all needed along with full-scale education reform. With these changes feeling rather large-scale and out of reach, what can I do in my classroom (if anything) to bridge the gap? According to Abdullah Masmali, “ it is crucial that technology use starts from kindergarten through secondary education. This will help to address differences between students who have the ability to use technology and those who are unable to use it” which goes back to the idea presented earlier in my post. Helping students to learn the appropriate skills at school on the devices provided is a small step that can help with more equitable access to technology.
When I was a teenager…
In a blog post I made earlier this semester, I shared my sincere sentiments regarding social media use as it relates to my own children. I know the idea of hitting the blue or red button Alec mentioned in class is completely hypothetical; however, if I could choose one or the other, I would be totally fine with social media just going away by the time my daughters are at the age where they want to set up an Instagram / Snapchat / whatever-new-platform-exists-by-then account. I was — and maybe still am — of the opinion that social media is playing a large role in ruining childhood. My girls are seven and ten years old, and the idea presented in the BBC article by Sean Coughlan stating that childhood is technically over by the age of twelve — or even ten as some respondents in the article indicated — is disheartening. I want nothing more than for my kids — or anyone’s kids for that matter — to be able to enjoy as much of their childhood as possible before having to take on the stress and anxiety associated with adult life. Kids deserve more time to be kids without worrying about things like their appearance or weight. The ESPN article “Split Image” was particularly concerning and difficult to read. I worry about how young people’s mental health will be affected by constantly seeing their peer’s highlight reels on social media because even as an adult, I find this aspect of social media hard to navigate. I remember life as a teenager without social media and it was tough back then (ok…this is making me sound really old). A few of my friends had cell phones — which were used for making phone calls back then — and I did not. I was always worried about missing out and it was hard to hear about the fun people were having without me. Now, instead of just hearing about it, what you’re “missing out on” is in your face every time you open a social media account. As an adult, I find it difficult not to feel envious at times when I see people posting about their extravagant trips, new homes, and fun outings. I know this constant comparison to other people’s postable moments has a negative impact on my own mental health and I’ve taken steps to clean up my own social media accounts to prevent myself from feeling this way. I can imagine this constant exposure to other people’s highlight reels is even more challenging for young people to deal with. In my logical brain I know that what I see on social media is not the full picture; however, trying to help teenagers understand this is an important piece of learning that must be connected to their use of social media. Going back to what stood out to me from Debate #1 is that, just like technology in the classroom, social media is here to stay so we need to figure out — and help our kids figure out — how to use it in the most positive way possible. As a parent and teacher, I know helping students understand how to be responsible digital citizens is imperative to them having more positive experiences online. I know I will have to have challenging conversations with my kids to help them navigate this world that I was not exposed to as a teenager. I appreciated Laura and Alec sharing “Gregory’s iPhone” contract with the class as I will use it when my girls finally wear me down and convince me they should get a phone. Age 20 seems like a completely reasonable age for that, right?
Teachers Enhance Learning, Technology Can Help
Technology in the classroom enhances learning – do you agree or disagree? My debate partner, Janeen Clark, and I were committed to finding out how to defend the argument that technology does not enhance learning in the classroom — although we may have been the only two people in our class voting that way pre-debate. When starting our research for this debate topic, we were both…a little nervous. Although I have had some minor struggles with technology use in my classroom over the years, I still believe in the positive impact it has on student learning. Janeen and I had our work cut out for us, but we were fully committed to learning as much as we could about our side of the debate and took our position very seriously. By the time we presented our debate topic, I think I had almost convinced myself into believing our arguments, or at least to be more critical when considering the ways in which I incorporate technology into the classroom. If I think about all of the tech-based resources and tools I have used over the years to support learning in subjects like ELA, Dance, Performing Arts, Phys Ed, etc., I would never be able to give them up — they are ingrained in how I teach. The tech tools I’ve implemented make lessons more engaging, meaningful, and accessible to students. My personal experiences would side with the research from this article stating that technology “can produce significant gains in student achievement and boost engagement, particularly among students most at risk” when used in pedagogically sound ways. The idea that technology does not enhance learning seems hard to dispute. The students in my classes are currently using audiobooks and google read and write to support their learning in ELA, they are viewing and engaging with video examples on YouTube or other streaming platforms and using online dance training/tutorials in Dance, and they are connecting with guest speakers/artists from around the world in the BAC program. Implementing these tools most definitely enhances learning for students. However, there was research that helped to sway my vote and make me think more critically about how to implement technology in more effective ways in my classroom. Here are the arguments that impacted my thinking the most: Technology is a distraction. Even while writing this blog post, I have been distracted by technology approximately 100 times. And let’s be clear: there is no one to blame for this but myself. I could very easily turn off my phone and close my email, but because I am addicted to technology for whatever reason, I don’t have the willpower to disconnect. If I can’t self-regulate my own tech use, how can I expect my students to have this skill mastered? According to a study conducted by Associate Professor Barney McCoy discussed in this article, “students are more distracted than ever” and “tend to check their digital devices, particularly, their smartphones, an average of 11.43 times during class for non-classroom activities.” “Fighting boredom” is the main reason cited as to why students are distracted which circles back to the idea that engaging lessons and sound teaching practices are needed to capture student attention and in turn enhance their learning. Technology could definitely be one of the ways to engage students, but it needs to be used thoughtfully and in pedagogically sound ways. Too much screen time is bad for your health. As stated in our debate “roughly half of children and youth exceed the public health screen time recommendation of 2 hours per day or less. Evidence suggests that screen time is deleteriously associated with numerous health indicators in child and youth populations, including obesity, aerobic fitness, quality of life, self-esteem, pro-social behavior, academic achievement, depression, and anxiety (2017).” This information was presented in a master’s thesis written by Amanda Strom outlining “The Negative Effects of Technology for Students and Educators” with a focus on the negative health outcomes of too much screen time. Furthermore, the thesis states that “the technology expectations and amount of screen time that students are required by their teachers on a daily basis is negatively impacting student mental health, physical health, and the learning process as a whole.” If I think about the classes I teach, including Dance and Physical Education/Wellness, I want to find ways to enhance the health of students. I want them to be active and interactive, while moving their bodies, building relationships, and collaborating in person with other students. The classes I teach are a way for students to do something other than sit and stare at a screen. Based on this information, I will be mindful of how much time students spend using technology as a way to support the various aspects of their health. Technology is not a replacement for good teaching. I think this may have been the point that helped us sway the post-debate vote. Teachers are the most important piece of the learning puzzle, not the tools they use. Letting a group of teachers know that what they do with their students has the biggest impact on learning likely worked in our favor when it came to voting. This article states that “technology doesn’t replace good teaching” and provides good advice for teachers about how they can implement technology in effective ways to support students learning. Another study done in Columbia by Corredor and Olarte (2019) showed that “technology itself cannot increase student learning.” Pedagogy is an important factor in the equation. Closing thoughts. Debating this topic was a great learning experience. Of course, I will still use technology in my classroom; however, having to argue this side of the debate has reminded me that technology in the classroom is only as useful as the teachers who choose to use it. As stated in our closing arguments, “Technology is here to stay, and we depend on it. However, the question we should focus on is this: how can we ensure we are using technology effectively, and that we are preparing students to use technology critically? Like any resource we use – a textbook, an abacus, a microscope, it’s not about the tool, it’s about the teaching. Technology isn’t a replacement for good pedagogy, and technology can’t enhance learning without good teaching practices.” So now I’m curious. What was the most valuable information you took away from this debate and how will it impact your teaching practice?
Teaching Students to Be Kind Online
By the time my kids are old enough to use social media, I am hoping that it somehow becomes uncool or just goes away it. I realize that this hope is…highly unlikely; however, my maternal instinct is to protect my daughters from anything that might be harmful to their self-confidence, knowing all too well that some kids (or adults) base their self-worth on the number of likes they receive on a post. When my oldest daughter asks me when she is allowed to have a phone, I tell her she can get one when she is 20, which sounds similar to what my dad used to tell me about when I was allowed to have a boyfriend. When I was 13, I thought his dating rules were “totally unfair” but now as a parent, I completely understand where he was coming from. He wanted to keep me safe from anyone who might hurt me, in the same way I want to protect my girls and keep them safe. But thinking about this topic from the perspective of a parent just solidifies how important it is for students to learn the skills to be responsible digital citizens (even though sometimes I wish I could raise my daughters in a time before social media existed). Here are two ways I have approached the topic of digital citizenship in my classroom. Last year, our school was asked to create a submission for SaskTel’s “Be Kind Online” campaign which “aims to end bullying and cyberbullying in our communities” and “help empower those committed to changing online behavior for the better.” The requirements for the project included making a video to post to our school’s Instagram and TikTok accounts showing how our students spread kindness in our school, both online and in person. My colleagues and I were excited about the opportunity to take part in the campaign knowing that it would be a great way to approach the topic of digital citizenship in our classroom. In the process of creating this video, students had the opportunity to collaborate, laugh and have fun with their peers while also reflecting on what it means to be a kind and respectful digital citizen. The project was an engaging way for us to discuss the important topic of digital citizenship with our students as it opened up conversations about the importance of treating others with respect regardless of whether you are behind a screen or face-to-face. Earlier that same school year, another colleague of mine stumbled upon an Instagram account created by students from our program, about our program. Once she found the account, she obviously had no choice but to check it out. Most of the posts were completely harmless — funny memes, cute pictures, inspirational quotes — but, after scrolling a little further, she came across an anonymous post criticizing me and my colleagues. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say the post was not an example of students “being kind online” and we as teachers were all hurt by what our students had posted about us; however, because we are also mature adults, we knew we had a responsibility to help our students learn something from the situation. Even though it was uncomfortable, we recognized that addressing “the post” was a teachable moment related to appropriate and respectful online behaviour. We wanted our students to know that even though it was likely more difficult to talk to us in person about their concerns, that it would be more appropriate and less hurtful than posting something critical about us online. We also discussed how it can be easier to say something hurtful online (not just about a teacher, but about anyone) when you aren’t saying it to that person’s face. Although the conversation was tough, I am glad we were able to guide our students and give them some tools to navigate similar situations in the future. I am looking forward to finding new ways to teach about digital citizenship in my classroom more consistently. I am teaching a Wellness 10 class this semester, and supporting students in the development of their digital identities would be a perfect connection to the curriculum. As I think ahead to planning this content, I would love to know what other teachers are doing to support student learning in this area. What are some ways you approach digital citizenship in your classroom? What resources have you used? What strategies have worked well for you? And finally, what resources should I be using at home with my own kids?
AI Technology: Cheating tool or my new personal assistant?
One day last month my husband was playing around with ChatGPT and he asked me to enter a prompt. I didn’t know a whole lot about this technology, other than what he had explained to me at that moment, and I wasn’t sure what to ask it to do; however, knowing I would be taking EC&I 830 in a few weeks, I asked it to write a 1000 word essay on the contemporary issues in Educational Technology. In literal seconds, ChatGPT produced a five-paragraph essay with compelling information about the topic. Strangely enough, the essay didn’t make any mention of the impact AI would have on the future of education. For as good as ChatGPT was at creating a well-written essay, it may have missed a fairly key point related to current issues in this field. I was honestly blown away by the AI tools Alec shared with us last week. My initial reaction to this technology was pure and utter amazement. Again, I knew very little about ChatGPT and AI technologies before starting this course but after seeing them in action, I was intrigued to learn more. After realizing the possibilities, I immediately signed up for a few accounts and started trying them out. The first AI technology I attempted to use was Tome. I prompted it to create a slideshow to promote the Balfour Arts Collective to incoming students. This task was on my to-do list for an upcoming Information Night we are hosting in February, so I thought Tome could save me a few hours of work. For whatever naive reason, I didn’t think this tool would know anything about the topic I selected, but in a matter of seconds it produced a totally usable slideshow with a pretty convincing sales pitch. I mean, after reading it, even I was convinced I would be a great fit for the program. Of course, the product needed a few edits, but overall Tome completed this task in record time. Check out the rough version of the slideshow here. Not too shabby for 20 seconds of work. The next thing I played around with was ChatGPT. I am a dance educator and I wondered how this tool might be used by my students (or myself) to create dance choreography. Knowing that ChatGPT wouldn’t be able to create a visual representation of movement, I wondered if it could provide a description of a dance, similar to how I write out my choreography when I want to remember it (i.e. step touch R/L x2, pose for 4 counts arms in a v, walk forward for 4 counts R/L/R/L, walk back for 4 counts R/L/R/L). Here is my initial prompt and the response I got: Not exactly what I was hoping for. So after talking to my colleagues and trying their suggestions, I tried again prompting ChatGPT to use a form of dance notation called Labanotation. This yielded an interesting response. Check it out: So, although this AI-generated “choreography” is not super innovative (maybe even a bit cheesy), ChatGPT did a fairly decent job of describing a dance phrase that could be followed and performed by someone with a basic understanding of dance. Pretty cool if you ask me. But more importantly, this got me thinking…a dance choreography AI tool could be my claim to fame and my next million-dollar idea. Now I just need to find someone with the tech skills to make that happen. After testing out a variety of prompts in ChatGPT, I have to admit I LOVE IT. Initially, I viewed AI tools as something students would use to cheat on essays (this article provides an interesting overview of these challenges), but I never thought of them as tools I could use to make my job as an educator easier. Over the past few years, I have struggled to find a work-life balance; new tasks are often added to teachers’ plates with no additional time to complete them. But the idea that these AI tools could save me time with prep and marking is pretty amazing. Of course, as teachers, we will need to learn to navigate this technology and understand the impact it will have on the subject areas we teach. We will also have a responsibility to teach our students how to use these tools in appropriate ways. But for right now, I’m just going to enjoy having a few more minutes of free time thanks to this amazing new technology.
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