This fall, Ben Temple, Head of Upper School, and Denver Guess, Director of Curriculum Alignment and Instructional Practice, spoke to the grandparent and parent communities, respectively, about artificial intelligence and how the accessibility of AI-supported platforms impacts teaching and learning at Parker.
This article, summarizing the presentation given by Denver to the Parker Parents Association on November 6, was crafted by employing Rev, an AI transcription platform for transcribing audio, and Diffit, an AI content generator designed for teachers to access differentiation resources for any lesson. Diffit read the transcribed audio file from Rev and created a summary of the material at a Grade 10 reading level. Following this process, members of the Communications and Marketing team lightly revised the summary for publication.
In a recent presentation to the Parker Parent Association, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Denver Guess invited audience consideration of artificial intelligence (AI), focusing particularly on large language models like ChatGPT and their impact on teaching and learning. Denver first defined AI as computer programs that perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as language recognition. He then introduced two types of AI: strong AI, an advanced but non-existent concept, and weak AI, which we encounter in our daily lives. Large language models, like ChatGPT, are examples of weak AI and are designed to generate text responses when provided with text inputs.
When asked to reflect on new technologies that impacted their educational journeys, parents shared anecdotes ranging from overhead projectors to pagers. These personal stories bridged the gap between the technicalities of AI and the everyday experiences of the audience, contextualizing AI within a larger history of technological evolution.
The presentation then turned to the practical application of ChatGPT. Denver demonstrated the chatbot’s versatility using a series of examples, from offering tips on apologizing for forgetting a birthday to practicing for a driver’s license exam.
Naturally, the presentation also explored applications of AI for schoolwork, including a demonstration of AI-generated essay responses. Despite concerns about the potential misuse of this technology for coursework, Denver emphasized that Parker students should use critical thought and context clues for the interpretation of AI-generated content during their engagement with the tools, as oftentimes these outputs have severe limitations.
While AI tools, as demonstrated by Denver, are efficient and accessible, students should consider a balanced approach to ethical use. Some of the potential drawbacks mentioned include plagiarism, limited critical thinking, misinformation, and a potential loss of creativity. Denver then asserted that AI can be a valuable educational tool when used responsibly and guided by teachers. Other language programs, like DALL-E, were introduced and sparked a dialogue about ethical questions related to using art generated by these programs.
Ultimately, Parker’s position on AI use in education stresses the importance of preparing students for their future through conscious curiosity around emergent technologies. Parker has decided not to prohibit the use of AI; rather, teachers and students are encouraged to have open conversations about its strengths, limitations, and ethical considerations during use. Parker continues to find that stressing the importance of each student developing their own thoughts, skills, and voices, coupled with only using assignments produced in the presence of the teacher for evaluation, are the most effective measures to guard against academic dishonesty.
Amidst the ever-evolving landscape of technology, Denver reminded attendees that the fundamental human need for connection remains unchanged. As AI continues to shape the educational landscape, fostering understanding and responsible use becomes key to a harmonious integration of technology in the classroom.