The Ethical Implications of AI in Education

As the use of technology in education increases, so do the questions of ethics and fairness. ChatGPT and other AI technologies, while potentially useful in providing students with more answers to tests and writing essays, can also be seen as a form of cheating. This is especially concerning in light of the already existing issue of cheating in high schools and universities.

The larger problem here is not the use of technology, but our society’s obsession with testing. Education should not be about passing tests, but rather about learning and exploring new ideas. Too often, our educational system is driven by politics, leaving teachers and students feeling as though they are only being evaluated on the basis of their results on standardized tests.

Rather than relying solely on tests, we should be focusing on teaching students how to think critically and apply the knowledge they have learned. ChatGPT and other AI technologies could provide students with the knowledge they need to operate in the world, but it must be done in a fair and ethical manner. We need to shift our focus away from assessment and towards learning, in order to ensure that students are getting the best possible education.

The Evolution of Data Analysis: From Calculators to ChatGPT.

I was a sophomore at Clemson University in 1977 and was taking a course in probability and statistics. We learned the basics of statistical inference and we used our Texas Instrument calculators to compute means, medians, t-scores and more in our class.  The problems in our book were represented in this script which, we had to write out on tests and in our homework. For example, the sum of the numbers 2, 4, and 6 could be written as Σ(2 + 4 + 6) = 12. As we approached the end of the semester we received a very large set of numbers which required us to use the university’s computer center. Fortunately for me,  my roommate was a math major and volunteered to complete this assignment and I got a “B” in the course.

Thirteen years later I was a graduate student at the University at Buffalo. I took two courses in graduate level statistics where we regularly solved for ANOVA and ANCOVA along with a host of regressions and t-tests. We didn’t use Texas Instrument calculators. We were instructed to use IBM mainframes and we tediously entered our data into text files that had to be formatted “just so” so that they could run correctly and generate the data we were looking for. What a relief instead of manually pressing the ‘Sum key’ on the calculator and though formatting the text files was tedious it was far superior to the earlier method.

A couple of years later we were solving the same statistical analysis using Microsoft Excel. We could generate ANOVA and ANCOVA and all the other data without the tedious formatting. In the last fifty years we’ve seen tremendous changes in data analysis that came from improved methods of collection which include such as sensors, mobile devices and social media. We have big data tools driven by Python and R which didn’t exist 50 years ago.

We have improved data visualizations which were rudimentary and frequently inaccurate fifty years ago. These methods have improved as our tools have improved. This in turns has led to more accurate interpretation of results. The ability to use a variety of techniques and technologies has led to a greater understanding of the world we live in.

Now we have the development of machine learning,  learning algorithms and artificial intelligence that enable computers to do the work that was hitherto reserved for humans. These changes have enabled more sophisticated and faster data analysis.

ChatGPT can automate data preparation tasks, allowing data analysts to focus on higher-value tasks. It offers advanced natural language processing capabilities to provide insights, has a natural language interface for better user experience, and integrates with data visualization tools to present data insights more interactively. Ultimately, ChatGPT can revolutionize the way data is analyzed, leading to more informed decisions faster and more efficiently.

Should we return to 1977 with TI calculators and punch cards or dare we enter a new age that can enable us to have more diverse and accurate representations of the world we live in

The Benefits of Accessibility and Open Educational Resources

When creating and distributing open educational resources (OERs), it is important to consider accessibility to make sure that everyone can benefit from these resources, including those with disabilities. By designing and developing OERs with accessibility in mind, we can help make sure that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from these resources.

The use of alternative formats is an important aspect of accessibility in OERs. This includes providing text in a format that can be read by assistive technology, such as a screen reader, as well as providing captions for videos and audio content. Additionally, images and other non-textual elements should include alternative text (alt text) descriptions so that users who are visually impaired can understand the content.

An important aspect of accessibility in OERs is using web standards to make sure resources are usable by a lot of different devices, including the ones used by people with disabilities. This includes making sure the resources are responsive, so they can be used on various screen sizes and orientations, and that they work with different browsers and assistive technologies.

Creating OERs with multiple types of users in mind is key! By using uncomplicated language and summarizing key points, those with reading difficulties and non-native speakers can better understand the material. Furthermore, having videos, audio, and text available allows learners to pick the best way for them to engage with the content.

Accessible OERs are essential to provide quality educational opportunities and experiences to all learners, regardless of their disability. Collaboration between OER developers, educators, and learners with disabilities is necessary to ensure that accessibility is taken into account throughout the process. Automated and manual testing with real users of different abilities should be implemented to evaluate accessibility, and accessibility guidelines and standards should be followed.

Moreover, accessibility is not only beneficial to learners with disabilities, but also to those with temporary impairments, older adults, and people with low internet connection. Furthermore, accessibility makes content more usable for all users. Thus, it is important to consider accessibility in the development of OERs to ensure that everyone can benefit from them.

Written with an assist from ChatGPT and WordSpinner.

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?

Be Relentless

Relentless: Changing Lives by Disrupting the Educational Norm

Relentless: Changing Lives by Disrupting the Educational Norm by Hamish Brewer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hamish Brewer is anything but typical. A tattooed skateboard riding principal whose zest for life and education transcends tradition, culture, place and every other impediment you could imagine. He grew up in New Zealand in poverty. He found school difficult and oppressive and even was retained a year. However from an early age he had a drive to distinguish himself and do something great. He believes that success in education is about relationships. He writes, “When you acknowledge, respect, empower, motivate, inspire, and believe in people, you can move mountains.” This book will have you on the edge of your seat and you will be hard pressed to put it down. Hamish loves his school and the children that attend there. He builds a culture of confidence and desire by telling children that he loves them. He says, “I challenge you to introduce the word love into the everyday vocabulary in your school. Relentless is a call for everyone to aspire to new heights. We all have it in us to be relentless and this book is an invitation to do just that.

EdCamp is is an opportunity for learning you cannot afford to miss

I became aware of the EdCamp movement over a year ago through one of my Twitter contacts, Christina Luce. Since that time I’ve done a lot of reading about the EdCamp movement and I’ve been very impressed by what I have read. Recently I attended and participated in the EdCampCNY. I found it refreshing to be sitting around talking with professionals about solutions to everyday educational needs. I recently learned that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the EdCamp Movement two million dollars to continue this seminal work and to grow the movement. Because of my positive experiences with EdCamp I’ll be attending another EdCamp next week in Canandaigua, New York. Like all EdCamps it’s free and you can register by following this link.

Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs.  Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference, edcamp has an agenda that’s created by the participants at the start of the event. Participants attending the conference are encouraged to have discussions and hands-on sessions. Sponsors don’t have their own special sessions or tables, all of the space and time are reserved for the things the participants want to talk about.

Built on principles of connected and participatory learning, edcamp strives to bring educators together to talk about the things that matter most to them.  Educators who attend edcamp can choose to lead sessions based on their passions, interests and questions, with an expectation that the people in the room will work together to build understanding by sharing their own knowledge, experience and questions. — Kristen Swanson in Edutopia

Learn more about the EdCamp Movement here.

Massively Open Online Course

A couple of days ago I signed up for my first ever MOOC and then I visited the and signed up for a course about Locating, Creating, Licensing and Utilizing OER (Open Educational Resources). MOOCs are potentially disruptive innovation.  They are free courses primarily from higher education institutions that have traditionally charged tuition for such opportunities. Regardless of the implications I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about open educational resources (OER). It’s an area that has interested me ever since I began to explore open source software and open source resources. I’ve found the course I’m taking to be very engaging and already I have learned a great deal. I’ve found out about Coursesites and Coursera. I’ve learned more about OER Commons and how to add your own open educational resource and license it properly using Creative Commons.  I’ve learned about resources that support the open educational resource community like and added to the knowledge I already had about other sites like CK-12 which allows teachers to create their own Common Core aligned texts which can be shared in a browser or on any tablet that can view portable documents (PDF).

Whether massive online courses are the future or not few can say. But one thing is for sure they along with pervasive broadband and wireless have changed the landscape of traditional higher education and will transform aspects of K-12 as well.

Yoga for teachers

In the past year I’ve discovered that there are many teachers who are stressed about a variety of things. For many it involves high stakes testing and tying their evaluations to the results of those tests. For others its a combination of raising a family, higher fuel prices, uncertain futures, children in college and more. I’ve been taking yoga classes locally and one at Bikram Yoga in Tempe, Arizona when I was on vacation this past February. I’ve found in all of this a relaxation and stress relief that not only works but also invites others to respond the same way. There are some in our society who classify Yoga as a religion and some go so far as to insinuate sinister forces in operation at its core. Those assertions are not grounded in reality but they do keep some from seriously investigating this practice and applying it to their own lives.

My approach to this discourse has been Franciscan. I have let my activity, actions, reactions and other people’s reactions to me be the testimony of my practice. I’ve found other Franciscans who practice Yoga too. Of much greater importance is a natural method to deal with stress and improvement of one’s life and the lives we touch each day. Who among us doesn’t witness the reactions of our pupils to these incessant high stakes tests. Add to that the normal stresses of growth and maturation and you have a climate that invites bullying and other negative behavior.

This year I used some simple practices like mindful breathing to reverse these conditions with students. Each class period we began with six deep breaths. This mindful moment focused the children and calmed them too. It provided a natural break between the excitement of passing from class to class to the learning environment and it brought more oxygen into their blood which helped them to be more alert and focused too.

Each day prior to class I spent a few minutes in downward facing dog and forward bends along with mindful breathing to help me relax and prepare for my time with the students. I know that this was reflected in my teaching and my other interactions with them each day. Recent interactions with some of my peers invited me to consider how I could share my experience with other teachers and encourage them to consider yoga for themselves and their students too.

Deo Gratias

That’s Latin for “Thanks be to God.” I learned that years ago as an altar boy in the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church. Two years ago I began a course of study at St. Bonaventure University in Educational Leadership. Two years ago about this time I was still quite uncertain of that direction and what I have come to regard as the “Good Journey” at St. Bonaventure. I graduated in May 2011 with a 4.0 and an MSED in Educational Leadership at the top of my class and then began the certification process to obtain official credentials as a School Building Leader and School District Leader. Today, shortly after 5 pm I received email that indicated that I had passed all tests for certification. I am very relieved that this part of the journey is over with. I found the certification tests difficult and a real test of what I had learned. The tests concentrated on skills found at the upper end of Bloom’s Taxonomy and they were designed by psychometricians who knew how to design difficult tests. That’s past and now I’ve passed one more hurdle on the road to school leadership at a crisis moment in American education. I have no idea what the future will bring. I’m listening with the ear of my heart. Thank you to everyone who prayed for my good test results. I’m grateful and hopeful. I’m grateful to my advisor, Dr. Greg Gibbs, my other professors at St. Bonaventure and to those in my cohort who encouraged me throughout our time together.

Sign of the times

It’s been incredibly hot and essentially no rain here where I live and it’s gotten me to pondering what it means. I’m not inclined to think that God or the Gods are punishing us for a misdeed. The earth may be reacting to fossil fuel emissions and the climate this summer has certainly changed, but not sure what that means for the long term. None of us can be sure what the future brings or even if there is a future. Nonetheless times like this do make me wonder what the future holds. Last week I attended a seminar for principals and supervisors and it was basically how to insure that teachers are teaching and that students are learning. Looking back over my own life I see what a crap shoot that really is. Sometimes it has taken years to learn simple lessons and then other learning is accomplished relatively quickly. Addition, multiplication, and division facts that I learned in primary school are still with me as are parts of the Krebs cycle that I learned in high school and later re-learned in college. I can still remember Polonius’ advice to Laertes which we were forced to memorize in high school English. I have a talent for remembering strings of numbers and I never realized I had that talent until I took a battery test prior to entering the US Navy. That skill serves me well in a field where I need to remember TCP/IP addresses and strings. I even learned how to make change in my head when I was a bartender over thirty years ago and I am still good at that skill. I find myself using it when I’m checking out at the grocery/convenience store and watching the clerk make change. What then are the skills that schools ought to emphasize that will serve students well?

Is it really necessary to learn how to use an iPad or more useful to learn how to express oneself regardless of technique? Is painting with a brush or doodling with a pencil just a beneficial with an inexpensive device as it is with an iPad? How do we encourage creativity and entrepreneurial skills? In a day of standardized testing how do we really prepare students for the future. Is socialization one of the most important skills of schooling and do how can we foster a more thoughtful school that encourages community?

Can charter schools provide public education/educators/students with a more authentic choice or do they degrade from the overall process? I’ve been pondering these ideas. I’m interested in how we can create community and sustainability in schools. How can that best be accomplished? My own background of mixed private and public education has caused me to question if it’s possible to create a school where learning in celebrated, people are educated and transformed and a culture is consecrated as it were. If you’ve got thoughts along those lines I’d love to hear from you. Peace-Shalom-Salaam!