Spotlight on Artificial Intelligence
Posted 2nd October 2023
Artificial Intelligence, Large Language Models and Chat GPT
For the past two decades, I’ve been teaching students about the Turing test for Artificial Intelligence. In the test, a human judge engages the computer and a human test subject in a conversation. If the judge cannot reliably distinguish between the machine and the human, based on their responses, then the machine is considered to have "passed". Until recently, the prospect of a machine passing was the stuff of science fiction and computer scientists were more concerned with jobs being lost to the automation of manual labour.
In 2015 the BBC asked the question “Will a robot take your job?” The future for secondary school teachers looked assured with only nine careers, out of possible 366, less likely to be automated.
Daniel Toms, NCCE Hub Lead
With the release, last year, of ChatGPT suddenly teachers’ future looks a little less certain, with some experts theorising that artificial intelligence (AI) will result in “fewer teachers being employed – possibly even none in the classroom.” https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/jul/07/ai-likely-to-spell-end-of-traditional-school-classroom-leading-expert-says
Some of these early pieces are hyperbolic and the actual impact of AI, in the past year, has been fairly muted. More recent resources even highlight the potential of AI to reduce teacher workload. https://tdtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/AI-for-UK-School-Leaders.pdf
When asked to write this article on the benefits of AI, the most obvious approach was to put ChatGPT to the test and get it to do the hard work.
Using ChatGPT is straight forward, just type your question in the box. This is what I asked for:
“Write a piece for secondary school teachers explaining the benefits of AI powered tools for student pedagogy and work life balance? Word limit is 1500”
The first article produced seemed well written. It had an introduction, a conclusion and focused on seven different areas in which AI could support teachers’ workload:
- Personalized Learning
- Efficient Assessment
- Content Curation
- Classroom Management
- Administrative Support
- Professional Development
- Work-Life Balance
Whilst informative, the piece was more like a report than a magazine article. Luckily, one of the features of ChatGPT allows you to refine a conversation towards a particular style. So, I asked it.
“Could you write this in the style of a magazine article”
ChatGPT responded and this was the new opening paragraph.
“In the fast-paced world of education, a silent revolution is taking place. Welcome to the era of AI-powered tools, where educators are unlocking new possibilities in teaching and learning, all while rediscovering their work-life balance. “
It was closer to what I wanted, but I felt it could do better, so I steered it in another direction.
“Re-write the opening paragraph to explain ‘what AI is’ and more specifically how a large language model works”
The new opening paragraph was much better, but as I read through the article it was clear that something was wrong as I’d never heard of the AI services that it was discussing and couldn’t find them on the Internet. ChatGPT responses are based upon the data it is trained on and if that data contains inaccuracies or biases, those can be reflected in its responses, in my case it simply made-up the examples.
One of the revolutionary aspects of ChatGPT is something called ‘prompt engineering’, where successive replies are considered in the context of the conversation. All I had to do to correct the article was add my own research to make it more relevant. For example, I replied
“Edit the section on Efficient Assessment with these details on Edpuzzle and how it uses AI ...”
“Add to your last answer with this second example of the AI assistant "Questionwell" …”
This additive approach worked surprisingly well and ChatGPT incorporated the new data seamlessly into the article.
The final article is not perfect, but it was generated in a fraction of time and drastically reduced my workload. You be the judge; does it pass the Turing test?
Decoding AI: The Rise of Large Language Models in Education
In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands as a beacon of transformative potential. AI, which allows machines to perform tasks that traditionally required human intelligence, has deeply permeated our daily lives — from the convenience of voice assistants to advanced industrial robots. Among AI’s numerous facets, "large language models" emerge as a distinct marvel. These are sophisticated digital entities, trained on vast swaths of human language, capable of understanding and crafting human-like text. They're more than mere tools — they're artists in their own right, challenging our understanding of creativity.
Large Language Models: A New Dawn in Education
Large Language Models, like ChatGPT, offer revolutionary implications for contemporary education. Their unmatched prowess in understanding complex concepts allows for the distillation of intricate ideas into understandable tidbits, leveling the playing field for students with diverse learning capabilities.
For educators, the possibilities are boundless. Want to craft an engaging set of comprehension questions? Done. Need to provide an in-depth analysis of a historical event from multiple angles? Simple. Dreaming of a new experiment for the science class? Consider it found. Whether it's language arts, history, science, or mathematics, these digital wonders can enrich and simplify teaching, transforming traditional educational practices.
Benefits Beyond the Textbook
While core curricula see undeniable enhancements through these models, the ripples extend beyond. Educators, often the unsung multi-taskers, can seamlessly craft newsletters, write tailored articles, or compose short stories for classroom use. By bridging the gap between creativity and technological efficiency, large language models offer personalized, dynamic solutions for diverse classroom requirements.
AI in Assessment: A Game Changer for Educators
Time, often the scarcest resource in education, is where AI can make the most profound difference. By optimizing repetitive tasks, AI tools empower educators to do what they do best: teach.
Edpuzzle's Transformative Leap in Video Learning
Edpuzzle has been a steadfast ally for teachers, enhancing video-based education by allowing them to embed interactive queries effortlessly. With the new AI-backed feature, "Teacher Assist," the game has changed. Teachers can now automatically curate questions for their video lessons, greatly streamlining the assessment phase. Be it a video from the internet or a teacher's own creation, Edpuzzle’s feature ensures relevant questions are at the ready, reducing preparation time and maximizing student engagement.
QuestionWell: Crafting Content Efficiently
Then there's "QuestionWell." This AI tool is a revelation in content creation. It streamlines the exhaustive process of question generation. Provide the material, and let the tool handle the rest. From Essential Questions to Learning Objectives, QuestionWell ensures that content meets instructional goals. With the ability to produce and export multiple-choice questions tailored to your content, the tool epitomizes efficiency.
When combined, Edpuzzle’s Teacher Assist and QuestionWell offer a formidable toolkit for educators. The duo encapsulates the power of AI in revolutionizing content creation and assessment.
Conclusion: The Future Beckons
Education, an ever-evolving domain, stands at the cusp of a significant AI-driven metamorphosis. By embracing tools like Edpuzzle and QuestionWell, educators can not only simplify their processes but also provide enriched learning experiences. As we navigate the educational challenges of the future, integrating AI promises a brighter, more efficient tomorrow.