Educated Bravery

Cover of book Brave New Words
As many of you know, I have not blogged in a year…and I only blogged 4 times in 2023 and twice in 2022.  I was facing the re-emergence of my prostate cancer after 18 years in remission, as well as breast cancer diagnoses in both of my twin daughters.

That shifted my focus to taking care of myself and my family.  After my final doctoral student successfully completed his dissertation, I withdrew from academic work, and moved from Virginia to Massachusetts to be nearer my daughters and grandkids.

Because of that move, I began to see the wonderful doctors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (as did my daughters), and thanks to them, I and my daughters are doing much better.  I completed two years of aggressive treatment using a new drug plus radiation, and currently my cancer is not growing.  My daughters had similar outcomes.

Which of course led my brain to begin rethinking about academic issues – my life passion over the past quarter century.

And let me tell you, returning after dropping out for two years is like entering a new generation.

As I asked two of my colleagues involved in faculty development,

“How the AI are you?”

The three of us, Jeff Nugent at Colgate University and Enoch Hale at Humboldt State University, and myself, Zoomed this week.  It was wonderful to reconnect and discuss how AI is impacting their work.

Jeff noted that the faculty adoption process of AI does not appear to be following the usual Rogers Diffusion of Innovation model. It is more of a “forced adoption” due to the rapid pace of AI development.

Interesting!  I am not the only one who feels that the speed of AI adoption is moving way too fast to keep up with.

Jeff noted three ways he saw others using AI:

    • Creation: Using AI for generating content or ideas.
    • Discovery: Utilizing AI to find and explore new information.
    • Summation: Employing AI to summarize and condense information.

Enoch made an interesting comment…that our perception of AI is shifting from a tool to thought chains and thought partners.

In some ways, that reminded me of discussions Jeff, Enoch and I had back in the days of emerging online instruction, where we said in a white paper that it was not the technology that was important, it was the learning.

White Paper CoverOr to note what Salman Khan said in his new book (more below) – ” it is not that technology is good or bad, it is how you use it that matters.”

Jeff noted that he has begun using Claude AI ( as his personal thought partner.  I set up my own account and began using it.

Logo for Claude AI

One of the first things I asked Claude was for more information on thought chains and thought partners after summarizing our Zoom discussion.  This is what Claude said:

The concepts of “thought chains” and “thought partners” in the context of AI are not well-established terms in the field. However, based on the context provided in the meeting notes, it seems that these terms are being used to describe a shift in how AI is perceived and utilized.

Thought Chains: The term “thought chains” could be referring to the idea that AI systems can now engage in a series of connected thoughts or ideas, similar to how humans link and build upon ideas during the thinking process. This suggests that AI is moving beyond simple input-output interactions and can maintain a coherent flow of thoughts, allowing for more complex reasoning and problem-solving.

Thought Partners: “Thought partners” implies that AI systems are becoming more collaborative and can actively participate in the thinking process alongside humans. Instead of being mere tools that execute predefined tasks, AI is evolving into an entity that can contribute insights, generate ideas, and engage in meaningful dialogue with human users. This partnership between humans and AI can lead to enhanced problem-solving, creativity, and decision-making.

The shift from viewing AI as a tool to seeing it as a thought partner indicates a growing recognition of AI’s potential to augment and complement human intelligence rather than simply automating tasks. This aligns with the concept of “Co-Intelligence” mentioned in the meeting notes, which suggests a collaborative relationship between humans and AI.

It’s important to note that these interpretations are based on the limited context provided, and the exact meaning of “thought chains” and “thought partners” may vary depending on the specific discussion and the individuals involved. As AI continues to advance, new terms and concepts are likely to emerge to describe the evolving relationship between humans and artificial intelligence systems.

“…the potential to augment and complement human intelligence!”

Wow!  Thart goes WAY beyond thinking of AI as just another tool!

All of this brings me back to the book at the top of this post – Salman Khan’s (2024) Brave New Words: How AI Will Re/volutionize Education (and Why That’s a Good Thing).

I will discuss this book in my next post (yes…I plan to restart posting).  One term that Khan uses that resonated with me was the idea of “educated bravery” in jumping into a partnership with AI.  One could also say that restarting blogging after a couple of years of silence is educated bravery!

Based on an idea Jeff suggested, I uploaded ten of my over 400 blog posts to Claude and asked for an analysis and suggested improvements.  I got some pretty detailed goods and not so goods…and one of the not so goods was my tendency to be longish.  So I’ll end here and be back later this week with more AI thoughts.


2 thoughts on “Educated Bravery

  1. Good to “see” you again, Britt! And I’m glad to hear you and your daughters are doing so much better — what a huge challenge you all went through.

    I’ve retired from faculty development, but will never retire from my love of learning and learning about learning.

    Welcome back!

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