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?

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.

Does cost really matter?

Earlier today I read a tweet from Phil Shapiro that suggested that the massive iPad initiative in Los Angeles Schools was in trouble. I did some “googling” and it does seem that the project is over budget. According to what I read the original estimates of cost per iPad were actually one-hundred dollars less than what the school district actually paid for the iPads.  How long will these iPads last and what is the replacement cost? Along with those thoughts are some of my own. I’ve been volunteering in the local library and there they have ten Dell computers which are now five years old.  I spoke with the librarian about upgrading them which would cost about $629 each on New York State Contract. Can the Blount Library afford that? Perhaps, but what will become of the units that are being replaced. Can they be refurbished and used elsewhere in the library? Yes, they could be and they might even serve as part of a “maker space.”  In one of Phil Shapiro’s tweets yesterday he stated that libraries could become local centers for the “Maker Movement.” This do-it-yourself revolutions which is sweeping across the country is gathering momentum and it’s one more purpose for today’s libraries.


Using Cell phones in a middle school classroom

I’ve been teaching middle school students how to use technology safely and effectively for three years now. It was a novel experience from the very start and it still continues to keep me on my toes looking for ways to help these young people how to learn all the while respecting each other but encouraging innovative information gathering. Recently I setup a blog for my students to “text” their pictures to. To encourage these young people I promised to pay $5 to each of two winners each week who submitted “winning” pictures. The children’s enthusiasm for the project has been quite encouraging and last week I actually paid out $25 to five winners. Their pictures are improving and this is proving to be a great way to encourage young mobile photographers. You can see their submissions here at our blog site, Enjoy!

What impact does technology have on your breath

“After a few days of these breathing exercises, [Linda Stone] noticed something interesting: just a few minutes after doing her breathing exercises, she’d head to work, check her email, and find herself holding her breath. Noting that there may be something wrong with that, she grabbed her gadgets and got to work finding out if she was the only one holding her breath in front of a monitor.
After about seven months, and about 200 interviews, Stone found that 80% of the people that she talked to and observed were holding their breath—especially when email came into their inbox.
So I decided to buy one of these devices and test myself during the writing of this book. I scheduled email checks only twice a day for one hour, and found that during those hours, sure enough, my breathing was more shallow and more irregular than during the hours in which I was writing.
Linda describes the problem with a term she coined: email apnea. But the irregularities go beyond email: I found that when I was dealing with all different sorts of incoming information online, my breath and heart rate became irregular. Any time I was dealing with something with a number by it or a queue, my breathing changed.”

–Clay Johnson, The Information Diet (O’Reilly Media, 2012), Kindle edition, 1693

It’s not just about technology

I use technology every day. Who doesn’t? We all flip on electric lights, Many of us drive cars. Others ride buses. Some of us have cell phones. Some of those phones are “smart” phones and others are “feature phones. Some people have PCs and some have Macs. There’s an emphasis on 21st century tools and 21st century schools. Will students be prepared to use this tool or that tool? How can they truly be prepared for college or the work force unless they know Microsoft Word or use an iPad or an iPod? What are the skills that they really need to be successful in this day and age? There are the same 26 letters and the same 10 digits now as there were forty or fifty years ago and there are a nearly infinite number of combinations and permutations of those figures. 

We emphasize Common Core and the NETS standards. We’ve got students who get benchmarks and schools that achieve AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) and teachers who are evaluated by APPR and test scores but we’re falling apart. We’re coming apart at the seams. Never in the last 40 plus years have I seen our country so stressed, so divided. Never have I seen schools, teachers, administrators, students and parents so stressed as they are now. 

So what do we need that’s way more important than high tech and high standards? We need heart. We need compassion. We need community. We desperately need community more than at anytime in our past. Without community the rest is just waste and consumerism. Jargon and bandwagons can’t prepare us or our children for the 21st century any better than community. Without community we cease to exist. We break down into warring fragments. 

Instead of iPhones and iPods we need I love you’s. Instead of text messages we need touch messages. We need people who can connect at the heart. We need people who can be present to each other. Wherever you are whatever you are doing make sure that you tell the people you’re working with or teaching with that you love them. Tell your children and anyone’s children that you love them. Love builds community and that is what we need more than anything else. 

I am not giving up

This post is a response to a wonderful educator from Saskatchewan who has written a very thoughtful piece on his blog expressing his frustration with his or his district’s battle to wean students from Youtube and Facebook. Let me preface what I’m going to say by letting you know that I teach middle school students about technology and I began with a charge to teach 7th & 8th graders digital citizenship a couple of years ago.

I also teach in a computer lab that was designed by someone who wasn’t teaching. It’s got rows of computers and the chairs all have wheels and the floor is hardwood. Every time a child fidgets in a seat there is a noise. When we have 15 to 17 students in the room it can get very distracting. If I was going to redesign the room I’d remove most of the computers and replace them with bean bag cushions some iPad and/or Android tablets and a few desktop Macs. My room would be bit less noisy the students would learn more and they’d be more comfortable and it would be a space that is more creative. I’d also remove the window shades and add a couple of skylights.

I’m a lifelong learner and teacher. I started teaching my brother when we were in pre-school and when I got old enough I used to make up tests for him with my Dad’s old mechanical typewriter.  Moodle is a dramatic improvement over that arrangement. I’m curious by nature and I’m almost always reading something. In the pre-internet days if I couldn’t find a good book I’d curl up with an encyclopedia. I’ve taken encyclopedias to lunch and to the restroom with me. I had the good fortune to grow up next to a public library and I lived in that place when I wasn’t in school or doing chores around the house.

I did reasonably well in school, but unlike my brother and sister I was not a valedictorian. I failed algebra, geometry and trigonometry. I excelled at spelling, but continue to struggle with grammar. I love to read and I loved American history. I liked science but had nothing to do with computers even in the punch card days because of my frustration with mathematics. I found school interesting at times but boring much of the time and much of my day was spent looking out the window. Much of what I loved to do they didn’t teach in school.  My teachers liked me. Even the math teachers liked me. It wasn’t lack of effort in mathematics. I spent hours with my Mom who has a masters degree in mathematics. I couldn’t “see” math. I’m a visual learner and it wasn’t until I was teaching a young man geometry using Apple LOGO that I had an epiphany about that area of my life.  As an undergrad I excelled at statistics and I still find statistics are far more interesting field than other forms of mathematics.

When I went to school there was a more of less discrete body of knowledge. Information was more difficult to come by. There was no Google or Yahoo and when I wanted more information which was nearly all the time I had to spend hours in the library or write the Library of Congress which I did once upon a time.  School then as now was really about socialization. It’s about learning too but when I think back to those days at St. Pius X, Archbishop Walsh and Pioneer Central I remember people not facts. I remember relationships and common experiences. I remember Mother Emily bursting into our sixth grade classroom to tell us President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. I remember Mr. Douglas’ wonderful American history class that almost everyone loved because of his wonderful stories.  I graduated from high school with a 92.5 average and membership in the National Honor Society. I had a Regents Scholarship. I had a high verbal and low math score on the SAT. Today those numbers are only memories and almost meaningless. High school and even college are terrible predictors of future success.

Education is compulsory in the United States and Canada. Our students come to us not because they choose but because they must. They come to our classes from an endless variety of homes and cultures. Some are interested in learning what we have to offer but others are not too interested at all. They come from homes and and environments that are information rich and very social. Most 7th grade students are Facebook members even though they are not old enough. They are drawn to this medium for a variety of reason but most of them are social. Bullying and violence are a part albeit an unwelcome part of life. Man’s savagery to his fellows did not begin with the internet. Youtube is titillating for a variety of reasons. Children much like myself are curious and they are fascinated with games, Youtube and Facebook. Wouldn’t you love it if your students found your class as engaging as Facebook?

Educators used to be the gatekeepers of knowledge or at least they could make a better claim to that 40 years ago when I graduated from high school. Now, K-12 is a distraction for most students. Do we teach meaningful skills? Yes, we do! Who could function without reading or basic counting skills?  We have a captive audience who are required by law to attend our institutions. If education were a free market enterprise like McDonald’s we’d be forced to be a lot more creative. We’d spend more time trying to engage students in curricula meaningful to them rather than forcing them to learn what we value. We’d spend more time asking them if we are boring them and then re-tooling the processes to ensure that they are engaged.  Youtube and Facebook are social and that’s what people are by nature. We’re social creatures.  Our cafeteria is social, the drinking fountains are social and so are the after school activities.  You can filter the internet, you can remove all the wiring from your school too. You can trying locking the doors and nailing plywood over the windows too to focus their attention on your subject matter but it won’t solve all your problems and in the long run it will create an even greater dilemma.

We need to teach children and adults how to use technology for their good. The horse is out of the barn and nailing the door shut is only a temporary solution. Students don’t need our networks. Most of them have cell phones and they can message each other without our permission. They can access Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks without our knowledge or permission. It’s high time to re-think how we educate and deliver instruction. More interactive white boards and gadgets attached to boring content is like painting a turd.

There are ways to engage students and I’m spending much of my summer preparing content that will do that. I’m glad you wrote because you’ve helped me to focus much of what I’ve been thinking about.

Happy Fourth

We are still enjoying the heat and near constant sun. It’s a nice change of pace from our home where we have long periods of overcast and cold in the winter. I’ve long enjoyed South Carolina dating to the late 1970’s when I first experienced their abundant warmth and hospitality. I had hoped to squeeze in a couple of side trips but family must come first. We’re all getting older and time together is more important. I’ll have to schedule another trip to get in my other sightseeing. It’s 95F here today and that heat can be oppressive if you don’t move slow I’ve always loved being near the water and spending the last few days lakeside have been a treat. I’d like to canoe or try a small sailer like the one crossing the cove just now. I’ve written often lately of being refreshed by still waters and Lake Murray is part of that journey.


Wednesday will see us heading home but I’ll carry these memories with me for a long time.