Welcome to Sensemaking, AI, and Learning (SAIL)- a look at the trends and technologies impacting education.
In numerous meetings with university leadership, educators, and faculty over the last few months, a growing anxiety around the implications of AI is palpable. For some, this anxiety is existential. For most, however, it's an awareness that AI is yet another technology that requires a change pedagogy, teaching, and learning. In a workshop yesterday, I asked senior leadership how serious they viewed the risk of AI (low, medium, significant). Most felt it was a medium risk - significant but not fatal to the university.
My concern, and one that I have frequently articulated here, is that universities are sleep walking. Meetings are being held to understand how to prevent cheating with AI. But very few are seeing the full opportunity where AI allows advancement on many promised innovations: mastery learning, competency based education, learner profiles, true personalized learning. I'm surprised that AI is generally being treated as peripheral. Higher education should be in a panic...or a frantic race to adopt and deploy this fascinating technology (perhaps more impactful than the industrial revolution). To me, AI isn't just a thing - it's the only thing. It's the thing that changes all the other things. For most of us in the education sector, we are seeking vision from our leadership. What are we to do with AI? What is our institutional mission, vision, and mandate regarding AI?
We kick off our Sensemaking Lecture series next week, with Bryan Alexander taking a futurist lens on AI in 10 years. Free registration.
Sal Khan describes how they're using AI to provide "super tutors".
New article: Opportunities of artificial intelligence for supporting complex problem-solving: Findings from a scoping review This is a growing area of interest for me - how do we see AI contributing to existing pedagogical practices and how does it make us better learners and better teachers. I respect and appreciate critical lenses on AI. There are fantastic opportunities worth considering as well.
We see intelligence as a function of an individual. I gave a keynote today where I focused on the idea that we are intelligent in networks and systems. If AI is able to integrate with our existing knowledge systems i.e. to be part of our knowledge network and make learning and sensemaking easier, then it doesn't matter if it's sentient or aware. It's the network, not the node, that matters. I made a similar point here.
This is from last year, but it's important to recognize AI will amplify a number of existing trends, notably the declining enrollment . Coupled with decreased public confidence in higher education and you have a system on the precipice of disruption.
There is much angst in the edtech world. Chegg's stock price is hit hard. So is Pearsons.
Good resource: prompt engineering for educators.
AI Adoption & Impact
Yann LeCun, Meta's head of AI, tweeted about the adoption cycle of new technology. It reminded me of one of my favorite papers: The Dynamo and the Computer: An Historical Perspective on the Modern Productivity Paradox
AI is hungry for data. It'll consume whatever it finds. So it's silly that Samsung had to explicitly remind people (ok, ban them) to not use ChatGPT and give away trade secrets.
Hardly surprising. "Chatbots pretending to be journalists have been discovered running almost 50 AI-generated “content farms”"
Who owns content produced with AI? That's on the table with the current writers strike.
The godfather of AI is leaving Google (who he says has acted prudently and ethically) so he can more actively raise concerns about AI.
Artists are unsure what to do with AI. Grimes has decided to jump right in and give her fans opportunities to create AI music/art with her voice. As long as they share the royalties.
Generative AI will change work. In some cases, dramatically: "highly-educated, highly-paid, white-collar occupations may be most exposed to generative AI"
IBM pauses hiring, plans to replace 7500 people with AI.
Interesting. "The chatbot responses were preferred over physician responses and rated significantly higher for both quality and empathy."
The marvel of ChatGPT keeps developing "Between the expanding capabilities of GPT-4, and the soon-to-be everywhere Microsoft Copilot, work is going to start changing in a matter of months, not years. There isn’t really time to prepare, and no new technologies, beyond the ones deployed right now, are required. If you thought that things with AI were weird already, they are about to get weirder." URGENCY. That's what we're missing in higher education.