Welcome to Sensemaking, AI, and Learning (SAIL), a regular look at AI's impact on education and learning.
Over the last several decades, we've seen universities grapple with digital technologies. Universities do many things well, but acting decisively as a system in response to new technologies is not one of them. We saw the internet coming from 1995. In 2020, many (most) universities were under-prepared to meet the challenge of fully online learning. The result was hasty online instruction that then produced negative experience, for both faculty and students, of what is possible online. Of course poorly designed and rapidly deployed online learning doesn't work.
I don't expect universities to meet this moment of AI opportunity. And I fully expect in a few years, our leadership will be buying AI technologies to cover for lethargic and vision-less decision making today. While Google and many swaths of the corporate sector have made rapid shifts to AI-first footing, we're having faculty meetings to set policy on AI assessment. The dismay is strong.
AI and Education:
We have been running a many webinars. Here's the last three:
We also kicked off our Sensemaking Lecture Series with Bryan Alexander. Recording is here.
This whole ChatGPT thing is going well in education: "In a startling example of how ChatGPT can disrupt education, a university instructor punished an entire class over claims they used the chatbot program to cheat on their final assignments."
The Chronicle weighs in with a student voice: "People worry that ChatGPT might “eventually” start rendering major institutions obsolete. It seems to me that it already has." Faculty seem to agree that the current system is collapsing: "The tidal wave of AI-generated assignments is coming."
edX announces two new AI assistants, powered by ChatGPT. AI assistants are becoming like MOOCs in 2012: everyone will have one and many university leaders will soon be on panels boasting how AI-focused they are as an institution.
Interested in AI Literacy? Colleagues at C3L are offering an online course on the topic starting end of June. Free registration.
How are educators responding? "In the past few weeks, education groups, schools and colleges have teamed up to offer resources for educators and draft policy papers in response to the sudden rise of so-called generative AI tools"
Do we need an educationally focused LLM? "Given what’s possible in this new world of open-source and specialized LLMs, it is clear that an education-specific LLM should exist, and also that it realistically could exist." If higher education gets its act together on AI, this is the sort of thing a consortia should tackle.
Google entered the generative AI space with energy this last week, almost six months after ChatGPT launched our current trend. Here's one of the more succinct summaries I've encountered of what Google announced. Sidekick is intriguing.
Regulation of AI is a growing topic. Here's a summary of Sam Altman's (OpenAI) discussion on Capitol Hill. He left unscathed and the questions asked were soft.
Meanwhile, the EU goes hard on regulation, is closer to enacting the West's first AI laws: "The approval marks a landmark development in the race among authorities to get a handle on AI, which is evolving with breakneck speed. The law, known as the European AI Act, is the first law for AI systems in the West. China has already developed draft rules designed to manage how companies develop generative AI products like ChatGPT."
NSF announced another seven AI centres. Nationally, in USA, we're up to five AI and learning labs. Canada? Australia? UK? Most of EU? Roughly none.
Maybe AI won't be as bad as we think it will be: "Let’s get a sense of what this alien is before we blow it out of the sky. Maybe it’s beautiful."