Guest post by Joe Warner, 2nd-grade teacher at West Lafayette Elementary School in West Lafayette, IN
I am what most refer to as a “Techy teacher.” I love most things edtech and pursue a lot of edtech use in my classroom. I have been so driven by edtech that I pursued a master’s degree from Purdue University in Learning Design and Technology. The program has really helped me develop stronger edtech tools and designs for my classroom. When someone needs help with tech in our school, they usually come to ask me. I am not saying this in a bragging sense, it is merely to give the background that I love technology and see its benefits to our daily lives as human beings, especially as teachers.
All that said, I have some reservations about AI and the newly discovered ChatGPT (which I have only read about, and not used). Let’s first start with AI. For me, AI is an easier topic to discuss. I use Google Assistant on my phone to prioritize my daily life. I have even used IFTTT in conjunction with my Google Assistant to create a verbal command system that would award points to table groups similar to the house points in Harry Potter. So there are some great benefits of AI. My only reservation is something that I read about in EdTech Magazine. The title of this article is Empowering Teaching and Learning with Interoperability written by Douglas Konopelko. Interoperability was a new term to me but I have since embraced it. Interoperability in short is the ability of various programs and software to talk and work with each other seamlessly. My frustration with this topic and AI is how little companies are trying to accomplish this. The Google, Microsoft, and Apple battle are well known. None of those companies seem to want to work together and share their systems to work with each other. The same can be said for EdTech. If we are to fully be able to use the systems we have in education, we need them to have interoperability. The companies behind them need to embrace this. The question then turns to, can AI help us in accomplishing this? I am writing this post hoping to seek the answer to this question. There is so much overwhelming data in education and we need systems that can easily combine all the pieces we need into one system that makes it easy for teachers to use.
This brings me to the next tricky subject, ChatGPT. I have not used ChatGPT. It is blocked in my school and I have no desire to use it at home. I keep coming across Twitter posts with articles discussing the benefits of ChatGPT in education and for educators. I am extremely cautious to embrace this. The biggest issue I have with ChatGPT is originality and authenticity. In the article How CHATGPT is fast becoming the teacher’s pet from Forbes, a teacher is quoted saying that he lets the students use ChatGPT to write their first draft of code for them. But if ChatGPT is writing the first draft of code, then how is it “their” code or program? Other uses for ChatGPT in this article discussed are writing emails, comments for students, and creating tables and charts to name a few. And sure, automating these processes do seem like they would make my life as a teacher more efficient. The struggle I have is how can we confirm originality with these processes. How can we ensure there will not be mistakes? Yes, we all know “Skynet” is not taking over but when will ChatBot perceive the student, parent, or teacher as a threat and send the wrong message home? And maybe this is because I have some control and trust issues with the processes of my own classroom.
Let’s circle back to our topic of interoperability. What role does AI or even ChatGPT play in this term? If ChatGPT can create charts and tables, can it then provide interoperability for the systems that we use in schools? Can it gather all of the data from all the sources we use and make reports for schools to use? I for one am tired of chasing down data, copying it from one source to another. Could ChatGPT and AI automate and streamline this process for me? There are systems out there like Class Composer which let us take all of our data and put it into one place. I am a teacher so I am not on the backend of the data dump but I do know, I have had to enter my student data into Class Composer. So what can be done to make this process easier and eliminate my need to enter the data? We all know how much time this will save. Can ChatGPT solve this issue for us?
In this evolving world, I am more than happy to embrace change and technology. There are great benefits to using technology in our lives, especially in the classroom. And we can forget to take the time to measure the value of technology in the classroom. Our efforts should be on interoperability. How are we going to push all these systems to work together? How can ChatGPT help with that? How can I be assured of trust in ChatGPT’s originality or authenticity? I am just a techy teacher trying to navigate this evolving world and embrace the new tech.
Konopelko, D. (2020, July 9). Empowering Teaching and Learning with Interoperability. Technology Solutions That Drive Education. https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/07/empowering-teaching-and-learning-interoperability.
Whitford, E. (2023, March 27). How CHATGPT is fast becoming the teacher’s pet. Forbes. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/emmawhitford/2023/03/25/how-chatgpt-is-fast-becoming-the-teachers-pet/?sh=39c665de5177
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