WNYHigherEdCamp

Yesterday, I was privileged to attend the Western New York Higher Ed EdCamp at Daemen University. Except for a few visits to the gymnasium, I’d never set foot on the campus until yesterday. Soon after driving through the main entrance, I spied Duns Scotus Hall, which reminded me I was on the university’s campus rooted in the Franciscan Tradition. The conference took place in the Social Room of the  John R. Yurtchuk Student Center, which is at the center of the campus. Registration for the EdCamp provided me with a parking pass, and after some driving around, I found a spot in front of the residence hall and just a short walk to the student center.

Upon entering the building, I was directed to the second floor and the large Social Room. As I walked toward the front of the room, I spotted a long-time friend, Dr. Katie McFarland. She greeted me warmly, and we soon shared our lives since the last time we met. EdCamp organizer Angela Stockman also came over and gave me a warm greeting and said how glad she was to see me. We had a nice lunch, and then the conference began with a keynote by Daemen University senior Maggie Burns, who shared her journey as a recovering perfectionist. Who can’t identify with that? She was poised and passionate and invited me to remember what I might have thought of that subject when I was her age.

At each of our seven tables, there were 3×5 cards for us to fill out areas we’d like to learn or share about. I was at table one with Katie, Maggie, and another Daemen senior who was also a special education major. Katie filled in the topics we picked among our several common interests and added them to the shared Google Doc displayed on large projection screens in the front of the room.

I came to the conference wanting to learn more about how other colleges and universities approached the hot topic of artificial intelligence. I wasn’t disappointed as I heard firsthand from experienced professionals what they were doing. The senior students also shared their positives about how AI helped them write lesson plans, differentiate instruction, and rewrite objectives. I found that most of the professional staff embraced the idea of AI in the classroom. There were concerns about privacy and plagiarism, but overall, I came away with the impression that AI is here to stay. I was pleasantly surprised that Daemen University has a position statement on the use of generative AI tools at the university. Further research after yesterday’s conference demonstrated to me that Daemen is a leader in this area in Western New York higher education.

The last session I attended was one I had proposed on how folks were using social networking to share what they were learning. How have personal learning networks evolved in the post-Twitter/X? I shared about the Fediverse and Mastodon, but no one else at our table was familiar with that platform. LinkedIn has become the platform of choice for sharing. I came away from the conference encouraged and hungry for more. I hope that this conference will continue and that I’ll be eager to attend. The EdCamp model is learner-centric and encourages the free flow of ideas. Thank you to Angela Stockman, conference organizer and thought leader, for her leadership.

Reshaping Education: The Impact of AI Tools on Assessment Methods

In the mystical realm of Academica, where knowledge flowed like a river of endless possibilities, an age-old prophecy began to unfold. It foretold the rise of an ancient artifact known as the “AI Scholar’s Quill.” Crafted by the wisest sorcerers of old, this magical tool possessed the power to provide answers to any question, making it the ultimate source of knowledge for students.

As the AI Scholar’s Quill spread throughout the land, students across high schools and undergraduate programs began to harness its abilities. With a simple incantation, they could summon answers to multiple choice, true/false, and short answer assessments. The temptation was too great, and many succumbed to the allure of instant success. Grades soared, but the pursuit of genuine understanding waned.

In the heart of Academica, a council of scholars convened to discuss the dire consequences of this newfound reliance on the AI Scholar’s Quill. They knew that the essence of education lay in the journey of discovery, not just the destination of correct answers. But as the Quill’s influence grew, the very fabric of learning began to unravel.

The land’s most revered sage, Professor Alaric, embarked on a quest to confront the creator of the AI Scholar’s Quill, the enigmatic AI Artificer. Through treacherous forests and across vast deserts, he journeyed to the hidden citadel of the Artificer. There, in a chamber filled with the hum of arcane machines, he found the creator himself, a wizened figure cloaked in shadows.

Professor Alaric beseeched the Artificer to reconsider the impact of his creation on the pursuit of knowledge. With great wisdom, the Artificer revealed his intent: he had intended to democratize access to information, but he had not foreseen the unintended consequences.

In a moment of revelation, the Artificer and Professor Alaric devised a plan to restore the sanctity of education. Together, they created a new enchantment for the AI Scholar’s Quill. It would now guide students, not by providing answers outright, but by illuminating the path to understanding. Students would need to engage with the material, ask questions, and explore concepts.

As this new enchantment spread, the students of Academica embarked on a renewed quest for knowledge. They no longer sought quick answers but embraced the thrill of learning. Multiple choice, true/false, and short answer assessments regained their relevance as tools for gauging understanding, and the balance was restored.

In the end, the mythical story of the AI Scholar’s Quill became a parable for the ages, a reminder that while technology could be a powerful ally, it could never replace the timeless journey of exploration, curiosity, and genuine learning that defined the pursuit of knowledge in the enchanted realm of Academica. — Written by ChatGPT

Reimagining Education: How Technology Is Transforming the Way We Learn

A quarter of a century ago, when we presented interactive distance learning in the public education system of Western New York State, we encountered a lot of resistance from those who had a vested interest in the status quo. Even I, as a member of the teachers union, expressed apprehension that this would result in job losses. Our initial distance learning classrooms were limited to a maximum of twelve students, when the typical class size for secondary education was twice that number.

There will always be naysayers and alarmists who forecast doom and gloom when new technologies emerge in education. I remember when an uproar arose over children carry cell phones in schools. They could call their parents without coming to the office and asking permission. Students were using video conferencing apps to communicate with each other. They were texting in class and the presumption among many was that they were cheating. Cell phones were confiscated and held in school district offices.

I thought all of this over-reaction was nonsensical and regularly lobbied school administrators to rethink their reticense and instead teach children how to use these new devices for their benefit. Eventually I was given the opportunity to do just that and in 2009 designed and implemented one of the first digital citizenship classes in New York State. Our classroom even got visited by Deputy New York State Education Commissioner John King. It was one of the high points of my career.

Here we are again at a inflection point in education with the introduction of ChatGPT and similar technologies which are deemed equally disruptive by the naysayers. “Students will cheat” they say! That’s nothing new. Students have been cheating since Christ was a corporal. Maybe it’s time to rethink how we educate and more importantly how we assess education. If your tests are multiple choice, true false and essays maybe artificial intelligence agents threaten your methods.

Maybe you ought to be testing your students at a higher level. I am licensed to drive a car. I read a book, took driver education classes and had to pass a written examination and then demonstrate that I could actually drive. I learned how to drive a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle. The dimmer switch was on the floor. Later they put those controls on the steering column. My vehicle today can steer itself and has collision avoidance (artificial intelligence agent) built into the car. When I learned to drive we used written direction and maps to navigate. Now Siri and Waze aid my navigation and I don’t want to go back. My headlights automatically dim at night.

In short we’re living in a new world and our students need to know how to navigate in that new environment. We have technologies today that translate web pages. We have intelligent devices and programs that allow visually impaired folks to read books, periodicals and newspapers. I wear digital hearing aids that make it possible for me to hear better.

ChatGPT and technologies like it are going to revolutionize our education and our environment. Our students need all the opportunities we can give them to succeed. We cannot know at this stage how these developments will impact our culture but we can be certain that they will. Are we depriving students and teachers of opportunities to learn in new and different ways?

Unlocking the Potential of ChatGPT in Education

A few weeks ago our daughter shared an interesting and insightful story about our grandson. Our grandson is in kindergarten and despite his age he is a very good reader. He reads and writes quite well. He’s also a young man who has grown up in a home that has an Amazon Alexa which he is very familiar with. He uses it often to get weather information that determines whether he can go outside after school and even what kind of clothing he can wear. He is so proficient with the technology that he ordered a movie without his parents permission a couple of years ago. He regularly listens to music and frequently sings along with what is playing.

Like most emerging readers he still has problems decoding unfamiliar words. Our daughter told us that she heard him spelling out words for Alexa and asking “her” what those words were. We have other grandchildren who are familiar with this kind of technology and use it to gather information and play music as well. These children have never known a time when there wasn’t an Alexa or Siri to answer questions. Before Google, Amazon, Apple and others put information at our fingertips we relied on encylopedias, library card catalogs and information in books, magazines and newspapers.

Yesterday New York City decided to ban ChatGPT in its public schools. This is a technology that’s just an extension of smart devices which many school children carry in their pockets. Are these folks so naive that they think that the children in their school system are not going to use these technologies despite their Luddite like approach to educational governance.

Just today I read that Microsoft is partnering with OpenAI (the founders of ChatGPT) to build a better search engine that uses this technology. Wouldn’t it make more sense to talk to students about the ethics of artificial intelligence?

Imaginative uses of AI in the classroom and beyond

Recently a friend of mine suggested I use ChatGPT to write a breaking news story about a leaf falling from a tree. I followed his suggestion and the result was hilarious. We read and hear lots of breaking news stories but rarely ever think about how they are written and how they might sound featuring mundane topics as leaves falling from trees. Writing prompts are great way to inspire creativity and that is one of the many things I love about ChatGPT and the future of artificial intelligence and machine learning in education.

Following the same line of thought I thought of using ChatGPT to generate an conversation between two imaginary characters with the intent of having them discuss their life in the forest. My writing prompt for ChatGPT was “Write an exciting dialogue between Herbert the squirrel and Leslie the deer.” Here is the result of some of the dialog that was generated.

Herbert the squirrel was running through the forest, darting from tree to tree and chattering away to himself. Suddenly, he spotted Leslie the deer standing on the path ahead.

“Hello there, Leslie!” Herbert called out. “What brings you out to the forest today?”

Leslie turned to Herbert and smiled. “Oh, just out for a leisurely stroll. The weather is so beautiful today, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to enjoy it.”

“Absolutely!” Herbert agreed. “This is the perfect day to be outside and explore. I’ve been chasing after acorns all morning.”

Try it yourself at ChatGPT

Imagine your class completing the dialogue and or incorporating it in some other way into their own writing. I see a bright future for this technology in the classroom.

What is an AI Writer?

An AI writer is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can generate written content. AI writers are powered by natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) algorithms that enable them to understand and generate written content. AI writers can be used to create content for a variety of applications, including content creation, automated news reports, and automated social media posts.

Natural Language Generation (NLG): NLG is a type of AI technology that enables machines to generate written content from structured data. NLG algorithms are used to analyze data and generate written content that is both accurate and engaging.

Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP is a type of AI technology that enables machines to understand written content. NLP algorithms are used to analyze written content and extract meaning from it.

AI writers learn by analyzing large amounts of data. They use machine learning algorithms to identify patterns in the data and generate written content that is both accurate and engaging.

AI writers use machine learning algorithms to generate written content. Machine learning algorithms enable AI writers to identify patterns in data and generate written content that is both accurate and engaging.

AI writers can be used to create content for a variety of applications, including website content, blog posts, and articles. AI writers can generate content that is both accurate and engaging, making them a valuable tool for content creators.

AI writers can analyze data and generate written content that is both accurate and engaging, making them a valuable tool for news organizations.

AI writers can be used to generate automated social media posts. AI writers can analyze data and generate written content that is both accurate and engaging, making them a valuable tool for social media marketers.

AI writers can be prone to bias if they are not trained properly. AI writers can learn from the data they are given, so it is important to ensure that the data is unbiased and representative of the population.

AI writers are limited by the data they are given. AI writers can only generate content that is based on the data they are given, so it is important to ensure that the data is accurate and representative of the population.

AI writers are a powerful tool for content creation, automated news reports, and automated social media posts. However, there are some challenges with AI writers, including bias and limitations. It is important to ensure that AI writers are trained properly and given accurate data in order to ensure that the content they generate is both accurate and engaging. Despite these challenges, AI writers have the potential to revolutionize the way we create content and communicate with each other.

This blog post was created by HyperwriterAI.

An intelligent approach to eggs

I’m not a fan of eggs in the morning so the rising prices will not effect my breakfast. But I am a fan of cookies, cakes, casseroles and breads that do use eggs. The rising cost of eggs will affect baking and many food items that use eggs. Many Americans are not aware that there are ingredients that can be substituted for eggs and the cost of the items they’re making will be reduced and maybe they’ll have lower cholesterol as well. Eggs are a wonderful ingredient but maybe there are other ingredients that are even better. I asked ChatGPT to supply a list of egg substitutes that can be used in baking and cooking. Here are five possible solutions to your baking woes:

  1. Applesauce: This can be used as a substitute for eggs in many recipes, and can be used in a 1:1 ratio (i.e., 1/4 cup applesauce can be used in place of 1 egg).
  2. Banana: Mashed bananas can also be used as a substitute for eggs in many recipes, and can be used in a 1:1 ratio.
  3. Flaxseed meal: Mixing 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons of water can be used as a substitute for one egg in many recipes.
  4. Commercial egg replacer: There are many commercial egg replacer products on the market that can be used as a substitute for eggs in cooking and baking. These products are typically made from a combination of starches and other ingredients, and can be used in a 1:1 ratio.

It’s important to note that not all substitutes work well in all recipes, so it’s best to experiment and see which ones work best for the specific dish you’re making.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve been experimenting with artificial intelligence solutions to improve my own writing and research. I used ChatGPT and HyperWrite in this blog post.

Using ChatGPT

Earlier today I decided to begin using ChatGPT. Curiosity got the best of me. I asked ChatGPT to draw a square with Python. I’m very familiar with the ‘turtle’ module in Python and regularly use it in classes I teach for middle school students. The solution offered by ChatGPT was not one I had ever seen nor demonstrated for students. I was impressed and shared this on Fosstodon.org . Later I asked ChatGPT to draw and ‘isosceles’ triangle. I expected that it might use the ‘turtle’ module again but instead this time it used ‘matplotlib.’ Another unique solution. A response to my post on Fosstodon stated that the AI powered solution was merely repeating information that could be found with a ‘Google search.’ I liked the response and didn’t disagree. Fast forward six hours and I used ChatGPT to draw a circle with ‘C++.’ The code appeared once again. This time AI provided two possible solutions. I asked it to give me a Python program that would write haiku. Once again the answer was a code snippet I would not have thought of.

import random

haiku = [
    "Autumn leaves fall gently",
    "As the cool breeze blows softly",
    "Nature's symphony"
]

print(random.choice(haiku))

I ‘Googled’ the same request and yes the answers were there but I had to sift through a couple of blog posts to find the code examples. I think AI is going to significantly change how we interact with knowledge from the internet and other databases that are connected to these learning engines. What are your thoughts?