First impressions are crucial and stick with us. For example, if someone is rude, bashful, positive, or funny on our first encounter, we usually set that as an expectation for the next time we meet. Similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs like ChatGPT and Canva Magic Write often miss the chance to make a positive first impression, as they are being introduced as the newest “cheat” tool in education. However, AI used correctly can set students up for success as they navigate in their world.
Remember when spell check was first launched? Educators worried that it was a threat to students’ ability to spell correctly. The opposite occurred for me; I found it a valuable tool. For instance,I became confident in using larger vocabulary words to enhance my writing. In addition, with the assistance of this technology, my vocabulary flourished. The struggle with spelling no longer hindered my ability to write. AI language programs are offering the same for struggling writers. The foundation of the writing is in the human’s hands that are actually touching the keyboard. Programs like Chat GPT and Canva Magic Write only generate information after data is input, and it is up to the human to verify, and present, the information accurately.
As a teacher, I recently introduced AI to my students. I began the lesson by asking: What is artificial intelligence? What are some ways you can use AI in your daily life? There was a lot of discussion about Alexa, Siri, Chatbots, and video games among the students. They comfortably talked about how AI technology has enabled them to find answers to questions relatively quickly. I then demonstrated ChatGPT and Canva Magic Write to them. Students were not familiar with these new tools and were quite impressed with how they worked. Next, we discussed how this technology could impact learning. They shared how it is a tool that can be used for self-generated questions, fact-checking, and problem-solving. Student-led conversation on the topic was positive and encouraging on how AI could enhance personal learning. Surprisingly, it was almost fifteen minutes into the conversation before a student commented on using it for cheating. Impressive, fifteen minutes of positive uses and benefits before the negative hit the room, leading to a productive discussion about why cheating happens and who benefits from the action. This was certainly an important piece to the puzzle for sure. In my opinion, the conversation was crucial to supporting students' understanding of how the human in charge will affect the results of how the program is utilized.
As an educator, I find joy in knowing that AI was introduced to my students as a positive first impression. Furthermore, I embraced the opportunity to discuss the negative and how we should have integrity in all aspects of life. Unfortunately, some students may still view AI as a “cheat” tool, but it is important for educators to introduce AI as a valuable tool for learning. Will you be presenting AI as a positive learning tool, or will you allow others to continue to share it as a negative one and as a means of cheating?