Conversations From The Commons - January 2024 Char Shryock
2:31PM Jan 31, 2024
The Campus of Wickliffe is a community of learners. And we invite you to become part of this community by listening to our podcast Conversations From the Commons. When we think about what is the purpose of education, our responsibility is to help students along the path to becoming not to tell them what to become. We work to inspire students to learn, lead and serve. And through our conversations, we hope that you find inspiration and opportunities to connect with us. I'm Char Shryock, an educational leader partnering with the district to facilitate these monthly conversations. And today, I'm joined by superintendent Joe Spiccia. And Julie Ramos, the Director of Strategic Innovation. Today, we're going to be talking about generative AI and the broader topic of AI, and how that's going to impact Wickliffe Schools on the path to becoming. So today, I'm the guest, instead of just being the facilitator, which is a little bit of a new role for me. I'm joining both of you this morning. And I thought I'd start out by talking to you about my journey around generative AI. And I think for most people, maybe they've heard of ChatGPT, or the new tools that are in being the Microsoft Office suite that's utilizing generative AI. It's certainly been in the news for the past year. And so I've spent the past year exploring generative AI as a technology tool to see how it can empower learners and empower teachers empower people in the community to be their best selves along this journey. And I found some really interesting things. I had to first figure out what generative AI actually is. When I talk to people about what is generative AI?
I get a lot of, well, it's AI, we know what AI is? Well, it's not just artificial intelligence. It's a special kind of artificial intelligence. And it's called generative AI because it has the capacity to interact with you in a natural conversational way. So I can type into a field in ChatGPT, a question or an idea and it will respond to me in conversational language, it will type a response back to me. This is very different than how we've used technology before. You know, when I type something into a Google search engine, it does not respond back to me, it gives me 9 million responses back to me.
A search engine gives me 9 million responses. So that took a while to wrap my head around. And maybe to help you and Joe in thinking about it, one of the ways I've explained it to people is that generative AI is like the lid of a jigsaw puzzle box, it shows you the complete puzzle picture. And inside are all of the pieces that if you put them together will make that picture. That's what ChatGPT does for you. You ask it something or interact with it. And it goes out and looks at millions of words that it's learned through its algorithm- math training, it's had exposure to all these words. And it looks at how do these words often appear together? What words are related other words, and it considers what you've asked it and it returns to you one completed puzzle, here, I think this is the best response for what you're looking for. We're used to working with a search engine. Search engines return the million puzzle pieces to you. And you have to figure out the picture. So when you put a question or a task into Google search, it returns all sorts of things, shopping websites, and Wikipedia answers and
books and multiple versions of what you might be looking for. And then you have to weed through it and decide what you want. So I'm going to stop there because I think that's kind of the starting point for why we need to start to teach students how to engage differently with this new generative AI tool.
So Char, let me let me ask her a real simple minded question without getting real technical. If I were a parent,
what do I want to know about artificial intelligence as it applies to what my children should know or not
know, what they do in school or not know, in school? What do I want to know? What do I need to make sure I'm aware of. So I'm looking at the right things.
I think it's a parent, this is an opportunity to be on a level playing field with your student around a new technology, because we're all learning at the same time. And I think what I would need to know is how will this tool be a support for my students in their learning? How can they engage with it to build their own understanding and skills around topics that they're interested or passionate about? I'm also going to want to know, How can my student do this safely?
What is the safest way to engage? What information should my students share? Or not share in an AI environment?
How can my student make good decisions about what they're looking at? Is it really valid or accurate or authentic? So I think the safety piece is important. And then, you know, I want my students to be, and my child to be, their best self. And I know that they have ideas and passions and interests, and problems in the world that they see that they want to solve. So I think I would want to know, how can a tool like this help them in solving those world problems, or their local problems? Or the finding out more about the things they're passionate about and interested in? How can it help them become more innovative or creative and build their curiosity? So I think it's a balance across all three of those things.
So, so, how far away are we from this? And this I find, I will say I find fascinating, okay, we can for the sake of entertainment, see holograms, avatars, and, and so forth. Okay? How far away are we from a student sitting in a physics class? And having a hologram lecture from Sir Isaac Newton. Okay. Or Albert Einstein, you know, is that reality? Or is that a fantasy? That, you know, is way out there somewhere?
Yeah, I love that idea of actual holograms. I mean, it seems like science fiction, we're really not that far away from the capacity to do that, and to produce that kind of interactive experience, is going to take combining a number of different kinds of artificial intelligence. So the generative AI intelligence like ChatGPT, for example, gives the student the capacity to interact with a chatbot that is
serving in the role of Sir Isaac Newton. So I can ask a chatbot. Now, you are Sir Isaac Newton, I'm going to ask you questions about physics and your basic laws. And I want you to help me explore how to best answer those questions. It can give me text to respond to that. So that would be one piece of making that classroom experience happen. And that already exists. We also have the capacity to produce small holograms. So it's a matter of connecting that interactive language model with the tech capacity to produce a 3d virtual image in front of you. Right now we're using virtual reality goggles. And many of your parents probably have seen those advertised during Christmas, right? You put on your virtual reality headset, and then you can be in a virtual space and see these 3d images. So right now, we're using virtual headsets to see Sir Isaac Newton. And we can use the large language models like generative AI ChatGPT, to interact with it in in a way that would give us those answers. And then the third piece would be students actually being able to manipulate science tools to model what they're learning from them. And so we already have that capacity too within those virtual worlds, we can see them virtually. So the next step would be to move away from the VI virtual reality headsets, to the point where there would be a projector capability that would show you that in the room that you're physically in without having to have a headset on so
parents, we all need to be thinking about ethically,
how do we want to do this work? And where is this work going to be useful to empower us to do great things. And on the flip side, where might this work be something that we should be paying attention to.
There was a news story this week on a deep fake robo- call that was made to voters in New Hampshire using the voice of President Biden, that was created using AI components. So in the world, there's certainly a lot of positive with this new technology. But then we also have to be aware of the fact that there are negatives for how people may choose to use this technology and why we wouldn't want to do that, how we can prevent that or how we can be aware of it. So these are good conversations, I think to be having.
So before we walk away from that , I want to ask a question from a prospectiveaside, so one of the things I think I heard you say is that I could type into chat GPT from the perspective of Albert Einstein,
How would he describe the theory of relativity? And that would respond more from what, what the artificial intelligence knows about Albert Einstein, and how he would think about it than a current researcher at Caltech? Is that
fair to say? Or is that not fair to say?
No, I think that is fair to say,
large language models, which is what Chet GPT is, how generative AI works, have learned on millions of pieces of text, that it it's had a chance to process through. So if I ask it to respond as Albert Einstein, that's a known historic figure that has a lot of text out there. It will go back and do its word searching through that and give me Albert Einstein's response. I can then say, Okay, how would a modern physicist at a university level explain this? But here's the power for parents to think about for their students. I can also say, how would you explain this to a fourth grader? How would you explain this to an eighth grader? What kind of analogies could you make to help me understand this, because this is way over my head, it will also do that. So I think that is a great example, Joe, of how it can be a useful tool for anyone. And it can take very complex things. Give it to you from the perspective of the scientist or the researcher, but then interpret it for you in a way that's going to make sense to you. And talk you through how you can build your own learning of that.
Wow. Char. And Joe, as the two of you are talking, I'm listening. And it I'm wondering to sure if you could just speak a little bit about because we're going down a path making the assumption that everyone's pretty comfortable with ChatGPT. I'm wondering, can we just back up for a second? If there are some parents that are interested in getting started? Could you just talk a little bit about the differences of the free version to the,
to the version of open AI with with a fee and just
the tools that are accessible there that if they wanted to start just kind of exploring and building their own awareness how they might go about just starting even just playing around with ChatGPT?
It works as a large language model. If students put their work into it and ask for feedback, it's not going to produce that same work for some other child someplace else. So you know that it does protect you in that sense from a parent's perspective. Once you're in there, and you open it up, it has a message bottom box at the bottom where you start interacting with it. And you can use regular English, you can use questions or statements, you can ask it to play a role or to ask you questions, you can ask it to help you plan your vacation to Punta Cana, you can ask it to scale up a recipe for chocolate chip cookies for 50 people because you have to make them for the basketball team banquet. And it can do all those things for you, too. So it isn't just a learning tool. It can also be an assistant for you, it can explain things, it can do conversions. So I think that's interesting. That's how they would begin to interact with it. What else I think is, is a unique feature is that it will remember your conversation. So you can come back to a conversation you've had with it and continue that conversation, which again, is very different than a search engine. sSearch engine, you have to put everything in every time. But if you're interacting with ChatGPT, it remembers what you're talking about, and can build on that conversation with you. So I would encourage parents to go in and have those conversations. It's not, it's not a search engine. Yes, it will tell you, you know, the nine planets of the solar system if you ask it it, but you can also ask it to
in a work environment that you're working in. It can give you feedback, like, Hey, I'm putting together a marketing presentation on this topic. Here are my three talking points, what else might I be missing on these topics that I that I've not thought about myself? And it can give you that kind of feedback. So I encourage parents to use it for themselves, and then sit down with their child and interact with it together and talk about how could you use this then to help you explain what's going on in your physics class? Because, hey, Mom, I certainly don't understand it. And this is a chance for you what questions should I ask my teacher tomorrow to help me understand this, and it can generate those kinds of questions.
Char, thank you for that, I just wanted people to have the opportunity to go and explore on their own and just feel a little bit more comfortable. What Joe and I are hoping to do is have some some open dropping sessions, if you will, moving forward for the district for those who may want to collaboratively play, learn more, you know, explore all the other options and tools that are available to your point to really help and customize what is needed to be a resource for you know, not just students, but parents, so on and so forth. So thank you for that. And again, I just would like to say, truly for those who are listening, if you have the opportunity, just get out there, create an account, start exploring start playing, if you haven't done so already. It's really fascinating, all the the
information and ways to play with it, I do want to share, I did take a little bit of the information of the Wickliffe five year forecast and asked to put in, in the state of Ohio. How, you know, looking at some data points, what would be the fiscal plan, what would be you know, so on and so forth. So it is interesting just to see what is generated back when you plug in information. And then each time you refine your information, if I were to present this to the board, how would that sound? If we were to, you know, present it to students to explain the five year forecast? How would that look so on and so forth. So it was fascinating to see the just the different information points that you can use and how you can fine tune and tweak different presentations for different purposes.
I'm really glad that you mentioned your prompt, Julie, because I think that's something else to think about when we're working with tools like Chet GPT or other generative AI. It's just like any good conversation, the more specific you are about what it is that you want it to interact with you around. And the more details you put in, the better the response is going to be. You know, Joe and you and I have been having conversations this year. If we just asked each other really general questions with no follow up and didn't build on our conversation it wouldn't be a very interesting conversation. But we ask follow up questions and we're really specific in what it is that we're asking the person to, like interact with us around. It's those same conversational rules that apply to working with generative AI to
The more specific you can be or the more direct you are in setting a framework for it, the better responses you will get from it.
What's going on outside of I'll say outside of Wickliffe in other school districts, are you seeing the use of artificial intelligence at different levels? Maybe for different courses? Is there something going on out there that's a trend?
I think when we talk about artificial intelligence, that's a really broad topic. So, you know, I see districts that are offering robotics courses, that is a component of artificial intelligence. I see districts that are utilizing speech recognition software, to do speech to text and text to speech for students that has an Artificial Intelligence Component.
All of our emails have word prediction built into them now. And Google tools, which many districts use have that. So I think on that level, we've already seen artificial intelligence, starting to work its way into our day to day lives. What I'm seeing with generative AI is more starting with the teacher side, and teachers are starting to look at how to use that effectively, in supporting all of their students, individualizing lessons for students, putting together supports for students. And I'm starting to see students, especially at the middle school and high school level, who are seeing it as a learning partner. They can get feedback on their writing in real time, they can get multiple examples of how to work through a math problem with annotations to help them build their own understanding, at their own time at their own pace. That's, that's where I'm starting to see it.
There's a lot of districts that are still wrestling with the idea of Is it cheating? That was in the news. That's really where most people have heard about this? Yeah. Are you cheating? If you're using generative AI. I'm encouraging people to not think about it in that light, it is not producing. It's not like a search engine where I can go find a paper on To Kill a Mockingbird and an ninth grade level and turn in somebody else's work. That is plagiarism. If I work with generative AI and say I'm writing a paper about To Kill a Mockingbird, this is my outline. Here's my thinking, Where can I be better at making connections or transitions? How can, I've chosen this evidence? Is there a better way that I could be phrasing this? That's not cheating that's asking for feedback and working through things. So I think that's where districts are right now. I think they're in that transition from moving past thinking about generative AI as a tool for cheating. And towards using generative AI as a tool to augment learning and augment teaching.
Your description would be I really appreciated the To Kill a Mockingbird description, because that's really helpful.
Almost no different than this rather weak analogy, but an analogy just the same, and I think it takes us all the way back to when we were in school, or I'll say when I was in school, the tool was a slide rule.
AI using chat GPT, okay, makes us better at whatever content we're studying, rather than it takes the work away from us. And I use those analogies, because if you're old enough to remember those transitions, and most parents are
Like, this is cheating. Oh, my golly, what's going to happen next? And then we began to rely upon them and saw their value. So maybe we can skip the this is cheating stage and get right to the look how reliable and helpful this is to us.
I appreciate that analogy, because I do think it helps people to see anytime there's a shift in technology. That shift causes a lot of Oh, wow. Nope, step back. Be afraid Warning, warning kind of messaging and once you get past that
It's like, oh, wait, this is interesting. How could I use it? That's why I like the word augmented. You know, if we think about augmented learners, you know, can they use the generative AI to help them tailor instruction to meet their specific needs? Can they use it to be more immersed in a learning experience, or to expand their own learning or to build their own creative thought, you know, when you think about your math analogy, I have ideas for these great things that I want to do, but I don't know how to do the math to figure those great things out. I can augment my process, if I have something that does know how to do the math at that level, and say, This is what I'm trying to do. How can I get there, and it works with me to accomplish that.
It's not replacing teachers, and it is replacing learning, you know, students, it, it doesn't work on its own, it just sits there until you interact with it. So I think , if we think about is augmenting learning for our students, and for ourselves, and see it as a way to fill in gaps and learning that we don't already have to accomplish great things that we may want to do. Ultimately, I mean, that's where it fits into your Campus of Wickliffe model, you know, on that journey to being it's a partner, it can become a tool in that journey to being
it's, it's not doing what it should be doing or, it's not being used in an ethical way.
Sure, I want to say thank you, you just laid out the roadmap for our listeners of what next to expect additional learning to come from, from the Wickliffe Family Resource Center as well this is the Conversation From The Commons, I will tell you, we really are going to utilize this opportunity to provide opportunities for people to learn more to investigate, explore, just to build awareness. And to your point, really, truly find ways that will, will support their passion and their purpose and becoming and so to really have that as is the next tool to help them become so happy. Thank you very much for laying that out. So people know that there's more to come. So that's it's an exciting time.
It is an exciting time. Joe. Julie, I want to thank you both for letting me be the guest today. And Joe being more of a facilitator. Thanks for the good questions. As always, I've enjoyed talking with both of you and I'm looking forward to future Conversations From The Commons and the opportunity to work with your community around exploring generative AI.