AI in Education – Incorporating it into my course creation

AI in Education – Incorporating it into my course creation

Watching the video presentation by Alec Couros helped bring some clarity to the confusion surrounding the use of AI in education. Dr. Couros used the term “AI literacy” at one point in the video, and to me, this is the short answer to a long question. I’ll circle back to this later.

In my own course, as noted in my previous blog post, there are a number of changes I need to make. I will definitely be using AI in a few different ways for this. In the initial construction of my course, I only used AI to create the guidelines for discussion etiquette. But as Alec pointed out, using AI as a tool is all about knowing (and using) the correct prompts to get what you need in a streamlined way.

One of the first areas I could have used (and now will use) AI to enhance my course is having it generate rich thinking tasks that are the crux of my lessons.  This is something I was struggling to find in an internet search. I was using Illustrative Mathematics and nrich to locate inquiry questions, but even these slightly missed the mark of the learning experiences I was trying to create for students. Something that was helpful to know was that, as Alec pointed out, ChatGPT is the AI tool that is integrated into many different platforms. This was relieving because I felt a bit overwhelmed with knowing which AI tool was best for the classroom. But by the sounds of it, it’s less about the tool and more about knowing how to input the right prompt. So that took me back to trusty ChatGPT to see what new inquiry questions it could come up with to launch my lessons. Here was my attempt:

I need an inquiry question for math to launch a lesson. The students are in grade 7. The topic is terminating and repeating decimals.
“In what ways can we identify, compare, and convert terminating and repeating decimals, and how do these concepts relate to real-world applications?”
This is too broad. Could you make it more specific?
Of course! Here’s a more specific inquiry question for your grade 7 math lesson on terminating and repeating decimals:

“How can we determine whether a decimal will terminate or repeat, and how does this knowledge help us solve real-world problems involving measurements and calculations?”

…Okay, not bad. I still felt like this was too advanced based on my experience with grade 7s in math, especially when attempting more open-ended thinking tasks such as this.

This is too advanced for my students. Can you make it simpler?
Certainly! Here’s a simpler inquiry question for grade 7 students on terminating and repeating decimals:

“How can we tell if a decimal will stop or keep repeating, and how does this affect our understanding of fractions and everyday calculations?”

That’s better! I will tinker with it a bit more and definitely consult ChatGPT for my future questions.

Man giving thumbs up
The Good Place Thumbs Up GIF by NBC on Giphy

It seems that the major concern in student access to AI is around using it to enhance writing and create text. But it can obviously be helpful in any subject area. My course is for grade 7 math. Students completing the course fully online could, in theory, input that lesson’s inquiry question into a generative AI tool and come up with a phenomenal answer. And, as Alec pointed out, the many “AI checkers” out there are hardly reliable. So where does this leave me, the teacher, when I’m trying to decide if my student completing this course fully asynchronously and remotely does in fact understand the concept?

I think this is yet another situation where being open, honest and upfront with students is crucial. Starting the course by explaining that yes, AI could allow you to sail through this class and probably get a great mark, and no, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you “cheated” might be the key to mitigating it. Having a conversation with students and reframing the use of AI as support instead of cheating could remind students that the end goal is ultimately learning, not getting the best grade. I understand that this argument has a lot more clout with middle school students versus those in high school, where marks have a greater impact. But seeing as it’s the middle schoolers I’m working with, I think it’s reasonable to approach the issue from this angle.

In terms of safeguarding my course from the misuse of AI, I think that the JAM (Journal About Math) element is helpful in ensuring that students are speaking “from the heart” about their experience. From what I can tell, it is difficult to use AI to generate answers to prompts that are authentic to the person trying to generate them when the questions are of a very individual and personal nature, like one’s feelings, for example. Also, the beauty of JAM is that there isn’t really a wrong answer, or way to feel, about math. Thus, the temptation to use AI to complete this task should be nullified.

Still, I understand that for students completing the course fully online who choose to heavily rely on AI, I might need stricter boundaries and a more specific assessment plan. As noted in my ADDIE model outline, the summative assessment in my course is project-based. Though it is not fleshed out yet, I hope to address how students can use AI appropriately in the construction of this final project. I imagine that guidelines around AI will be a common inclusion in many assignment and assessment guidelines moving forward.

3 thoughts on “AI in Education – Incorporating it into my course creation

  1. Hey Christina,
    thanks for the reflective blog. I appreciated the suggestions for incorporating AI into your course prototype. It had me thinking about my course prototype and how AI could be applied by students. Although students are creating a soundscape, a final reflection could be assigned OR students could use AI to brainstorm ideas for sounds. Ultimately, we know our students best. We need to still maintain a baseline for written data/work and include, like you said, enriched, questions or tasks for students to think beyond AI. I’m still hesitant to use AI as it is so new to me, but Dr. Couros’ video helped me learn and familiarize myself better. I still have a lot to learn and I hope to begin with small steps in appropriately utilizing AI with my students to provide them an additional learning tool.

  2. Hey Christina!

    Your journey through the complexities of AI integration reflects balancing technological innovation with ethical considerations. I agree with the emphasis on AI literacy as both a means for enhancing educational content and a skill set for students in the age of AI – as we function as facilitators of learning and guides in navigating the ethical landscape of digital technology.

    As educators, we need to engage with AI thoughtfully and critically, ensuring that its integration into the curriculum serves the overarching goal of enriching student learning while fostering responsible digital citizenship.

  3. Ironically, AI’s utility lies in the user’s ability to prompt it in such a way that it delivers exactly what the user wants. This requires clear, concise, and direct writing – all of the skills that students learn in schools! Like you I found that my initial attempts at using Chat GPT to generate math questions resulted in very broad, sweeping questions (“Compare and contrast the following noting important similarities, differences, and applications to daily life”) that my students would balk at. I spent a lot of time narrowing things down to a usable form often asking the bot to generate a sample response of a particular length. I found it more useful as an idea genertor that I could pick and choose from. As Alec noted in the video it really is encumbant on us to know the topic beforehand so we can use our professional judgement to evaluate the results.

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