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Understanding the Hottest Topic in Ed Tech

Summer 2024

Instructor: Frederick Lane


Over the next several weeks, you will get a thorough introduction to one of the most exciting and powerful new technologies to be introduced over the last several decades: generative technology (which I will typically abbreviate as GenTech). It is also commonly (and erroneously) referred to as "generative AI" or simply "AI."

The overarching goal of this course is to give you sufficient understanding of this technology to effectively teach GenTech to your students, evaluate GenTech tools for use in your classroom, anticipate and minimize ethical issues, and when necessary, explain the use of GenTech to the parents of your students.

As you may already be aware, GenTech is a rapidly-developing field, with changes occurring on a daily or even hourly basis. As a result, I have elected to use a dynamic syllabus, which will be updated with the latest relevant material each week (or more frequently as needed).

This will insure that you have the most current and relevant information for each section. A similar approach will be used for the two sequels planned for this course and for any future iterations of my GenTech courses.

This format makes it particularly easy to embed fresh content from a variety of different media. For instance, my presentations (both video and PDF) will be posted under each module and when appropriate, I will paste in interesting comments or observations that I see online (such as this comment from a former student, a librarian in eastern Massachusetts):

Structure of the Course

This course will consist of four modules, each requiring a minimum of 6 hours of work. Each module will consist of the following sections:

  • Video presentation (asynchronous) [app. 1 hour]
  • Review of relevant articles, videos, and other instructional materials [app. 2 hours]
  • Preparation of one or more projects for each student's learning portfolio [app. 3 hours]

In addition, I will be available for four 1-hour live sessions of virtual office hours for Q&A, course issues, and general discussion. Participation in the virtual office hours is optional. The schedule of the virtual office hours is as follows:

A Zoom video link will be emailed to the entire class 24 hours prior to the scheduled start of each live session. You should feel free to drop in any time and stay as long as you like.

Module 1: Demystifying Generative Technology

Beginning June 3, 2024

Specific Objectives: Understand and learn to explain the core concepts (machine learning, neural networks, etc.) in an accessible way for students, using analogies and diagrams.

Activities to Achieve Objectives:

A. Educators will watch the following Powerpoint presentation [approximately 1 hour]:

Intro to GenTech -- Presentation for Week One

B. Educators will explore how generative models are trained and the different types of content they produce (text, images, code, etc.). [minimum 2 hours]

1. Articles and Background Material

Understanding Generative AI (https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0033/278349/future-tech-media-literacy-understanding-genAI.pdf)

What is Generative AI? Everything You Need to Know (https://www.techtarget.com/searchenterpriseai/definition/generative-AI)

The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Generative AI | by purpleSlate | Medium (https://medium.com/@social_65128/the-comprehensive-guide-to-understanding-generative-ai-c06bbf259786)

Explained: Generative AI | MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (https://news.mit.edu/2023/explained-generative-ai-1109)

2. Videos

Generative AI in a Nutshell - how to survive and thrive in the age of AI - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IK3DFHRFfw)

Introduction to Generative AI - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2fqAlgmoPo)

Should we let students use ChatGPT? | Natasha Berg | TEDxSioux Falls - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogcSQ-cFRVM)

3 Reasons To Trust Students With ChatGPT | Yoram Solomon | TEDxJCU - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-3CULlaXEQ)

3. Recent News

1 in 4 teachers say AI tools like ChatGPT hurt K-12 education more than help | Pew Research Center (https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2024/05/15/a-quarter-of-u-s-teachers-say-ai-tools-do-more-harm-than-good-in-k-12-education/)

Generative AI in Education: Another Mindless Mistake? - Education Next (https://www.educationnext.org/generative-ai-in-education-another-mindless-mistake/)

AI Can Transform the Classroom Just Like the Calculator | Scientific American (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ai-can-transform-the-classroom-just-like-the-calculator/)

Teachers are split on the impact of ChatGPT and generative AI in the classroom (https://www.axios.com/2024/03/27/teachers-chatgpt-generative-ai-careers)

Learning Portfolio Output:

Educators will write or design a short, grade-level appropriate explanation of generative technology suitable for sharing with students and parents. The output should demonstrate each educator's understanding of the technology and their ability to teach the core concepts in a grade-appropriate fashion. [minimum 3 hours]

  • The caption for the portfolio output should state which grade level was selected and why, the learning objectives of the document or infographic, the pedagogical assumptions and practices incorporated into the document, and its intended use during the school year.

Module 2: Navigating the Generative AI Landscape: News, Tools, and Personalized Alerts

Beginning June 10, 2024

Specific Objectives: Educators will learn about reliable sources for news about developments in generative technology and will develop a checklist for evaluating other sources.

Activities to Achieve Objectives:

Educators will watch the following Powerpoint presentation [approximately 1 hour]:

Powerpoint Presentation for Module Two

Educators will explore and review web sites that track and categorize new generative AI tools, particularly those with potential K-12 uses. Each member of the class will be guided in setting up automated alerts to follow relevant developments. [minimum 2 hours]

1. Articles and Background Material

Getting Started - Keeping It Real: How to Spot Fake News - LibGuides at Phoenix College (https://phoenixcollege.libguides.com/keepingitreal/gettingstarted)

Steps and Tools for Evaluating the News - Evaluating News Resources - Research Guides at Rutgers University (https://libguides.rutgers.edu/c.php?g=636955&p=4457279)

Home - Evaluate My Sources - Research Guides at Virginia Commonwealth University (https://guides.library.vcu.edu/evaluate/home)

7 Highly-Informative Websites to Stay Up-to-Date with the Latest AI News (2024 Update!) - jeffbullas.com (https://www.jeffbullas.com/ai-news/)

What's the best web source for getting the most up date AI news? : r/ArtificialInteligence (https://www.reddit.com/r/ArtificialInteligence/comments/1326nc0/whats_the_best_web_source_for_getting_the_most_up/)

Artificial Intelligence | News | EdSurge (https://www.edsurge.com/news/topics/artificial-intelligence)

15 Best Artificial Intelligence Twitter Accounts to Follow (https://www.zyratalk.com/blog/15-Best-Artificial-Intelligence-Twitter-Accounts-to-Follow)

Google News (https://news.google.com/home?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US:en)

2. Videos

AI Is Dangerous, but Not for the Reasons You Think | Sasha Luccioni | TED - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXdVDhOGqoE)

How to Spot Fake News | Hannah Logue | TEDxYouth@Lancaster - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDxGZIW8Z74)

How to Evaluate Online News - Recommended Fact-Check Sites - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4jEU7kqJIk)

How To: Evaluate Sources for Credibility - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyGS24mJ3SI)

8 Tips to Help Students Evaluate Websites - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVptfuj6_yk)

Is A.I. overhyped? - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOk5jUihRgs)

3. Recent News

Op-Ed: Educators must critique and resist AI chatbots | NJ Spotlight News (https://www.njspotlightnews.org/2023/03/op-ed-media-literacy-surrounding-ai-chatbots/)

No, AI Won’t Destroy Education. But We Should Be Skeptical (https://www.edweek.org/technology/no-ai-wont-destroy-education-but-we-should-be-skeptical/2023/08)

Should the public sector believe the AI hype? – PublicTechnology (https://www.publictechnology.net/2024/06/06/public-order-justice-and-rights/should-the-public-sector-believe-the-ai-hype/)

The AI Classroom Hype Is All Wrong, Some Educators Say (https://www.edweek.org/technology/the-ai-classroom-hype-is-all-wrong-some-educators-say/2024/05)

How news coverage, often uncritical, helps build up the AI hype | Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/news/how-news-coverage-often-uncritical-helps-build-ai-hype)

Opinion | A.I. and the Silicon Valley Hype Machine - The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/15/opinion/artificial-intelligence-ai-openai-chatgpt-overrated-hype.html?unlocked_article_code=1.yk0.x8OA.dUqrLaySf2o5&smid=url-share)

AI hype will be hard to puncture | Reuters (https://www.reuters.com/breakingviews/ai-hype-will-be-hard-puncture-2024-03-20/)

Learning Portfolio Output: Each educator will develop a curated resource list for themselves and their students of 2-3 trusted resources for news and developments, and 2-3 generative technologies worth monitoring. [minimum 3 hours]

  • The caption for the portfolio output should state the intended grade level, a brief explanation of the development of their personalized alert system (including selected keywords), and a short explanation as to why each resource and tool was selected.

Module 3: Ethics and Generative AI in Education: Navigating the Gray Areas

Beginning June 17, 2024

Specific Objectives: Educators will explore the line between creative use of generative technology and possible academic dishonesty by students.

Activities to Achieve Objectives: [Available on or before June 17, 2024]

Educators will watch the following Powerpoint presentation [approximately 1 hour]:

Educators will review scenarios drawn from actual cases and examine the existing policies in their school. Educators will review a variety of resources discussing respect for creators, misinformation vs. AI-generated content, responsible online sharing, etc. [minimum 2 hours]

Learning Portfolio Output: Each educator will draft grade-level-appropriate guidelines for students on the ethical use of generative technology in their classroom. Educators will also create a plan for teaching ethical use to students, either as a standalone unit or as part of other content lessons. [minimum 3 hours]

  • The caption for the portfolio output should state the intended grade level and a brief explanation of the principles involved in crafting the guidelines. The caption should also explain the decision to do either a stand-alone or integrated lesson and to discuss the relevant merits of each approach.

Module 4: Educators & AI: Ethical Considerations and Professionalism

Specific Objectives: Study and understand ethical issues raised by educator use of generative technology, including fair use, copyright of AI-generated works, and proper attribution of sources used in AI training data.

Activities to Achieve Objectives: [Available on or before June 24, 2024]

Educators will watch the following Powerpoint presentation [approximately 1 hour]:

Using the Model Code of Ethics for Educators as a primary text, educators will review various sources regarding the impact of generative technology on educator professionalism, teacher-student interactions, student privacy, and related issues. [minimum 2 hours]

Learning Portfolio Output: Each educator will develop an "educator ethics" checklist covering the use of generative technology and AI tools in the classroom. Each educator will identify 3-4 uses cases or specific tools and apply their checklist to each. A summary of potential ethical issues and appropriate remedies will be prepared for each use case or tool. [minimum 2 hours]

  • The caption should detail the process used to create the "educator ethics" checklist. It should also specify a process for updating the guidelines and conducting reviews of potential ethical issues on a periodic basis.
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