Supporting Student Digital Identities

Following Dr. Couros’ presentation on digital citizenship, I found myself engaged in several timely discussions concerning the roles and responsibilities of teachers in shaping student digital identity. While the discourse was professional and engaging, I walked away feeling as though many colleagues harbour a resentment towards technology. In speaking with fellow practitioners this week, I was met with many familiar comments about the overuse of cellphones, the constant disengagement from learning, and a seemingly greater concern with social media than school. The usual suggestion to ban phones outright was followed by a decree that “things have never been so bad for us teachers” and “students just don’t want to learn”. Perhaps both statements are true, retrospect alone will judge that, but we must not resist the opportunity to promote  ethical, safe, and responsible online usage. The reality is, technology isn’t going anywhere and we must capitalize on it to draw students back into learning.

If Charlie Brown saw anything that was mean of humiliating he wouldn’t retweet it, he would fill people’s buckets, or cyber buckets

– Marialice Curran

Marialice Curran analogizes Charlie Brown as the ideal digital citizen. In her TedTalk, she suggests that Charlie Brown is emblematic of a student who takes the moral high road and does what is right regardless of the space that he occupies. Impressionable students can fall into a trap of presenting themselves as one way in person and another online. Teachers must find ways that build empathetic communities that operate parallel to their in-person classroom.

A common assumption regarding lack of engagement centres the notion that students just don’t want to learn. I refuse to see this as pessimistically as some and suggest that a multitude of reasons contribute to engagement issues in the classroom. Students arrive in our classrooms with personal stories that are traumatic, emotional, and sometimes neglectful. For many, digital spaces offer reprieve and gives them a sense of belonging and identity. In this sense, it becomes so closely tied to who they are that their immersion within totally disconnects them from the real world. For me, as an educator, I am curious about three overarching questions:

  1. Why are students preoccupied with their digital spaces, so much so that their reality is impacted?
  2. How can we educators better understand the nuances of technology to best engage students in learning?
  3. What does a healthy digital-literate learning environment look like?

As an aside, I don’t have a magic answer to any of the aforementioned questions, but I hope this post acts as a conduit for curious minds to consider the reality that students face a complex series of external stressors that significantly impact the way in which they engage with technology.  that it is not a crucial responsibility to create nurturing and safe environments in which students flesh out their digital presence.

While educators embark on their own digital learning journey, it is important to remember that we are integral in shaping our students’ digital identity. Educators are tremendously influential in the lives of students and must be cognizant of how conversations around digital spaces are approached. In considering this, I am reminded of the as the advice imparted to a young Peter Parker by uncle Ben, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Teaching in the digital age as complicated. On the one hand, it is exhilarating because students are afforded learning opportunities that alluded many of us when we were in school. Access to information has never been as fast or as readily available as it is today. Furthermore, the advent of technology has shifted the role of teachers wherein the focus is less on content and knowledge keeping. Alternatively, we resolve to act more as facilitators of critical thinking. In this sense, educators pose questions and guide students through problem solving and offer the skills necessary to navigate the digital world.

However, for as much wonderment as the digital age has ushered in, its ethical and legal parameters are of constant concern. Increased screen time, digital relationships, social media, cellphones, cyber-bullying etc. bring forth emotionally and socially detrimental effects. Our students struggle to navigate authentic online spaces because they are inherently bombarded by unattainable or unrealistic representations of who they should be.

For any generation, the journey through puberty into adulthood is one fraught with anxieties, insecurities, and self-doubt. But at least students twenty-five years ago had some reprieve when they went home. Today, the globalized world combined with the dopamine-induced instant-gratification society driven by social media severely limits the amount of time our students have to themselves. Empowering students to establish boundaries with digital spaces requires risk taking because it challenges the modern paradigm. Creating safe and inclusive learning environments extends beyond the walls of a classroom into a digital sphere..

If educators don’t feel they play as important a role in guiding students in digital citizenship, where will it come from?

 

Grade 10_11 BC Curriculum

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AI in Education

Today, I want to write about AI. I have already heard this word before in different contexts but unfortunately, I did not have enough information about it. 

“I am interested in AI because it is changing the world of gaming.”

“I am curious how AL can learn.”

“AI is a new revolution in the world.”

AI? What does AI actually mean? According to Russell and Norvig (2010), Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a sub-field of computer science that can carry out tasks like speech recognition, language translation, visual perception, and decision-making that require human intelligence and the mind.

Really?!?!?!

It is hard to believe it. We have learned many useful and practical information about AI from Dr. Alec Couros in ED830 class.

First, the meaning of GPT3 should be clarified. GPT3 stands for Generated Pre-trained Transformers 3. It uses internet data to generate any types of texts. As Dr. Alec Couros said: “ It has learned the patterns of human speech and generates the probability of the next word in sequence.” GPT3 is able to perform various natural language tasks including translation, answering questions, and summarizing texts. It was developed by OpenAI which is an American artificial intelligence research laboratory. 

ChatGPT is a chatbot built upon GPT3. It can be used in many different ways such as summarizing a text, composing music, producing various types of written work, providing specific information, etc. Please watch the following video to know what ChatGPT is:

Wowwwww! I could not believe it. How is it possible? After the class, I decided to check it and I typed some job interview questions related to teaching ESL and their answers. The answers are: 

“What inspired you to become an ESL teacher?

Answer: My passion for languages and cultures, and my desire to help others develop their language skills, led me to pursue a career in teaching English as a Second Language. I find it incredibly rewarding to see students make progress and achieve their goals, and I love the challenge of finding creative ways to engage and motivate them.

What is your approach to teaching grammar and vocabulary in the ESL classroom?

Answer: I believe that grammar and vocabulary are best learned in context, through meaningful and authentic activities and tasks. I also believe in incorporating a variety of teaching methods, including individual, small group, and whole class activities, to cater to different learning styles and to make the learning process more interactive and engaging.

How do you assess and track student progress in an ESL setting?

Answer: I assess student progress through a combination of formal and informal assessments, including quizzes, tests, oral presentations, and writing assignments. I also regularly observe and take notes on their participation and engagement in class, and use this information to inform my teaching and provide individualized feedback. To track progress, I maintain detailed records of student performance and regularly meet with students to discuss their goals and achievements.

Can you provide an example of a successful lesson you’ve taught to ESL students?

Answer: I once taught a lesson on describing people and personalities, which involved students working in small groups to create short skits and role-plays. The students had to use vocabulary related to physical appearance and personality traits, and present their skits to the class. The students were highly engaged and had a lot of fun, and it was a great opportunity for them to practice their speaking skills in a creative and low-stakes environment.

How do you handle challenging behaviors or disruptive students in the ESL classroom?

Answer: I believe in addressing challenging behaviors in a positive and proactive manner. I first try to understand the root cause of the behavior and then use a variety of strategies to address it, including redirecting the student, providing positive reinforcement, and setting clear expectations and consequences. I also communicate regularly with students and their families to keep them informed and to build positive relationships that foster a supportive and inclusive learning environment.”

Interestingly, it is important how to write your sentences and questions. You can see some prompt templates if you want more accurate results using ChatGPT:
Act as <role-name>
I will provide you with <info-on-input>
You will <detailed-test>

One of the most important issues that must be considered is “AIgiarism” which is a created word from plagiarism. Plagiarism is an important issue because detecting a generated text by ChatGPT seems challenging however some companies can detect these generated texts. Therefore, people in the world have many different ideas about using AI in education. Look at the following examples (from class):

We also discussed Quillbot as well which allows users to paraphrase a text. Most students use this bot to paraphrase different texts. The following video is a tutorial video showing how to use Quillbot in academia.

Other AI tools such as DALLE-2 and Playground are image creators. They can easily generate images based on your instruction about 10 seconds. I was so curious so I asked DALLE-2 an oil painting of a girl who has ginger red hair who is reading storybooks. This is the result:

 

The last AI tool that I want to introduce here is Tome which is a storytelling tool. It generates stories based on your instructed words and is capable of adding details. In the following you can see the story of a girl who has ginger red hair interested in reading storybooks generated by Tome:

I have not used AI tools in my classes before. I think using them has its pros and cons such as. Let’s talk about ChatGP. Regarding its advantages, one of them is increased efficiency and speed. It can grade assignments and provide feedback to students. Therefore, It saves most teachers’ time. However, there are also some disadvantages to using it in education. As mentioned before, one of the most concerns is plagiarism. It may be challenging to detect a generated text. Many other AI tools are interestingly useful in education such as LEX, Synthesia, Descript, etc.

Have you ever used them in your classes? Please share you experience here.

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. 

Artificial Intelligence, Actually Indisposed

Listing to Dr. Couros talk and walk us through a variety of online Artificial Intelligence tools was a trip. I felt like a bobble head, just nodding my head from side to side in a range of emotions – wonder, awe, disbelief, amazement, even a little bit of fear. When exploring ChatGPT, I was amazed

Continue reading Artificial Intelligence, Actually Indisposed

Technology in 3rd world countries

With an outstanding progress taking place in technology, there are still countries which have access to very limited opportunities hence leading to a gap in global revolution. Due to which many of the world citizens still are left behind due to political , economic and social reasons. Material deprivation and less qualified instructors being the primary factors in creating this societal learning gap.

At one side where AI is making breakthrough progress, on the other side huge part of the world is still struggling to either equal opportunities or the knowledge for the correct usage of technology. In todays day and time technology is the only way towards sustainability and to be able to benefit from it developing countries should also be provided with basic rights to civilization and progress.

With more investment in research based projects youngsters, lower enrollment rates in higher education and thus limited supply of trained professionals of the countries in discussion can also prove their abilities to be utilized in the right direction, which may lead to better chances for the current and upcoming generations.  Technology will bridge the third world countries to the rest of the world and make them more approachable. A sustainable technology department will offer better opportunities and raise the standard of living of the people living there. It will also create more job opportunities and will enhance the education system to achieve a sustainable economic wealth.