Last week, I replied to someone who was concerned that AI tools such as ChatGPT meant students might not learn to ‘think for themselves’. When I responded that, as a parent and former teacher, I would hope that this means reimagining assessment practices, they asked what I meant. I explained, and they said they hadn’t thought about it like that.
So I thought I’d quickly capture the points I made in that thread so I can easily refer to them again in future.
If we zoom out and think about what we’re doing when we’re trying to help people learn things, then we need to know:
Where learners are currently at in terms of their current knowledge and skills
Where we want them to be at in terms of those knowledge and skills
What they’re interested in learning and how they’re interested in doing so
The third of these is usually sacrificed for the sake of efficiency (think: large classrooms). However, the crux of learning is feedback, and the more personalised the better. I’ve been using ChatGPT with my son for revision purposes, and it can be used as an excellent tutor, giving precise feedback.
So when we’re talking about reimagining assessment practices, we’re really talking about personalising learning in a way that allows individuals to achieve their own goals, as well as those that society wants them to achieve.
Right now, we’re augmenting an existing system using new tools. Hence the worry about exams and essays. But once we go back to what we’re trying to achieve here, we’ll realise that AI and other new technologies allow us to personalise learning and provide tighter feedback loops. Which was the point all along! 😄
New, free and shiny technologies are like catnip to educators. An almost-tangible frisson of excitement cascades through Twitter, Facebook and subsequently staff rooms and TeachMeets in the hours, days and months following announcements of such products and services.
(click image for explanatory presentation)
Is there a business model behind the technology? (OSS counts!)
Can it be used in a transformative way?
Style is not substance.
I’ve certainly been guilty of using things in the classroom mainly because they look good. And that’s fine, so long as you realise at which end of the hierarchy you’re working. Sometimes you need a bit of the shiny.
Teachers want ‘stuff’ they can take away and use tomorrow. While I always show how the theory works in practice, it never seems to have the same impact as CPD with titles like ’10 engaging starters’ or ’7 great discussion tools’… The ‘quick fix’ is just that and somewhere down the line a proper solution needs to be found.
If I had to go back and re-teach 2003-10 again, I’d do so taking into account the sage advice of “more haste, less speed”. It’s the considered and sustainable use of technologies that make a difference.
This post isn’t a dig at teachers; it’s a broadside at senior leaders. They, after all, create the parameters within which teachers operate. If you’re pressured into using technology at the level of substitution it’s effectively akin to using a pen instead of a pencil. Something to merely mention in passing, not something to write home about.
Considered use and reflection upon the use of educational technology can be found. Start at edjournal.co.uk and start asking of each new edtech tool you come across: so what?
I was asked a few weeks ago to present at TeachMeet Oxfordshire by organiser Matt Lovegrove. Although I’m no longer in the classroom and couldn’t make it in person, I thought it was a great opportunity to share stuff I wish I’d known when I was still in schools. Below is my slightly-more-than-7-minute video on ‘models of learning’. Relevant links can be found underneath and it’s best viewed fullscreen! :-p