Week 2: Reflections on AI and Education

“All technological change is a trade-off. For every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage” (Kottke, 2018, para. 2)


Last winter, sitting in a class on theories of teaching literature, we discussed the ways that technology was changing and shaping the educational sphere. With a particular focus on the rapid (or at least it seemed to be that way) development of AI technologies, we hypothesized and considered the ways that these new, advanced technologies were going to impact how people read, write, and understand ourselves in relation to art, literature, stories, and ways of knowing.

Fast forward, a couple months and again I found myself in discussions with my colleagues in the English and Humanities departments– it had been brought to our attention that a number of students had been utilizing AI (specifically ChatGPT) to complete a range of assignments including formalized essays, presentations, and even personal reflections. Though our immediate reaction was to simply ban the use of AI and threaten to go back to only pen and paper style assignments; the reality was that this new technology was requiring us as educators to reevaluate our own philosophies on learning, education, literacy, and our pedagogical practices. We were left to consider the advantages and subsequent disadvantages that were to come with the development and improvement of AI as it related to education and learning. As described by McLuhan (as cited in 2004, Federman), the “medium” changed and developed, but the scope of the “message” has yet to be fully understood.

This linked article from CBC, “The ‘godfather of AI’ says he’s worried about the end of people” provides an interesting (and worst case scenario) perspectives on AI as it develops further. Though, I am uncertain about the assertion that we are moving towards the realities of a science fiction type dystopian world, the question remains how is and will AI influence the ways that we think, learn, and understand ourselves in relation to others and the world around us? If ChatGPT can produce personal reflections that mimic our voices and ways of understanding concepts and themes, then where does the human lie within learning and expression?

Works Cited

Federman, M. (2004). What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message? Retrieved September 19, 2023 from https://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm.

Kottke, J. (2018). Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change. KOTTKE.org.  https://kottke.org/18/08/five-things-we-need-to-know-about-technological-change.

4 thoughts on “Week 2: Reflections on AI and Education

  1. Your comments about AI and the process that teachers went through after it’s discovery were spot on. The teachers in my circles went through the exact same process from discovery to the thought of banning and moving completely to paper and pen. Ironically, it is our own current practice in education that makes technology like AI an evil commodity. I call this the process vs. product or outcomes vs. assignments debate. I believe that we need to spend more time on the learning and less time on the product/assignment.

    • I appreciate the distinction that you make between process vs. product. I would agree that the focus of education ought to be on the process of learning rather than the product. For example, as an English department we have had a number of discussions about the importance and prominence of “the essay” in the high school ELA classroom, questioning whether essays are realistically the most important ways that students communicate their thinking. Or if emphasis ought to be more on the process of how students organize their thoughts and perceptions while recognizing that the systems of communication that our students are and will be using in their day to day lives have are constantly transforming and are reflections of the technologies they have access to.

  2. I like the word choice in referencing students “utlizing” chatGPT in their classes instead of other words. I believe we are in the start of a paradigm shift in regards to technology and teaching (ie. chatGPT). Even though we have been living in an era with internet in our classroom for a few decades now I believe internet really just replaced the rush to the library to make sure you grabbed a certain letter of the encyclopedia Britannica before your classmates or made a presentation more appealing on PowerPoint versus Bristol board. In regards to the last question on your blog, I believe chatGPT can produce the script for us but we still have to act out their words!

  3. So true that our instinct is to possibly ban or try to find ways to get students to write in class. But I think you’re right that we need to rethink our pedagogy and ask ourselves what these advances mean for education. How can we plan learning and assessment with this technology in mind? If students can easily Google a topic, we know that the topic isn’t requiring deep thinking. So what does this mean with the advancements in AI? What skills do our students need, and how on earth do we plan enriching tasks that will encourage them to think deeply while also taking advantage of the technology of today.

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