Overcoming Old.Edu Again

Old School

I continue to look back at some of my old posts and reflect on how they might be recast for 2024 with the emergence of AI.  On of my posts from 2016 was entitled “Overcoming Old.Edu” – a play on the title of a jazz recording by Euge Groove.

The blog post from 2016 discussed how the internet had changed over the previous decade, focusing on the impact of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds (which was big in the decade before the post).  RSS allowed users to subscribe to websites and receive updates automatically, rather than having to visit each site individually. This made it easier for people to stay informed and control the content they consumed online.  Yet, I noted that many of my students were unfamiliar with the orange logo of RSS, despite its potential benefits for learning, making them more “old school” than me!

Old school is not necessarily bad.  Take for instance the keyboard I am currently using to type this post – a Retro Classic from Azio.  It was a gift from my grandkids this past Christmas…and I love it!

Retro keyboard

It replicates the old typewriter keyboard.  Talk about old school!

My 2016 post also explored the concept of “digital wisdom” and the differences between “digital natives” and “digital immigrants.” While some thought that there was a generational gap in how people viewed and used technology…I believed that it was not really age specific.  I also discussed the challenges of changing teaching practices and the importance of attention in online learning environments. The post concluded by mentioning the shift towards content curation and sharing in a networked world.

So I loaded this older post into Claude and asked it to help update this post, focusing on whether NOT using AI could be considered old school.  This is what he returned.

In 2024, the digital landscape has evolved significantly since 2016. The advent of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the way we interact with technology, and its impact on education is undeniable. Just as RSS feeds transformed the web experience by enabling personalized content delivery, AI is now reshaping how we teach and learn. 

I might disagree that it has already “reshaped”…to me it is more that the potential is there.  And as Ethan  Mollick pointed out in his book (discussed below), AI will only continue to evolve and get better.  But the current potential is amazing! AI can be used for:

  • Personalized learning: AI-powered systems can analyze students’ learning patterns, preferences, and performance to create personalized learning paths.
  • Intelligent tutoring systems: AI-driven tutoring systems can provide students with immediate feedback, answer questions, and offer guidance on various subjects.
  • Adaptive assessments: AI can create adaptive assessments that adjust question difficulty based on a student’s performance.
  • Curriculum development: AI can assist educators in creating and curating course content by identifying relevant resources, generating practice questions, and suggesting improvements to existing materials.
  • Grading and feedback: AI tools can automate grading for certain types of assignments, such as multiple-choice quizzes and simple essay questions.
  • Predictive analytics: AI can analyze data on student performance, attendance, and engagement to identify students who may be at risk of falling behind or dropping out.
  • Collaborative learning: AI can facilitate collaborative learning by matching students with complementary skills and interests for group projects.

AI-powered tools like ChatGPT, Claude, and other language models have become invaluable resources for educators and students alike. These tools can generate customized learning materials, provide instant feedback on assignments, and facilitate personalized learning experiences. Furthermore, AI can analyze vast amounts of data to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses, allowing educators to tailor their teaching approaches accordingly.

Various AI logos - Gemini, Claude, ChatGPT, and Pi

However, as with any new technology, there is a risk of a digital divide between those who embrace AI and those who remain hesitant.  Educators who fail to incorporate AI into their teaching practices may be seen as “old school” and risk falling behind in terms of providing the most effective and engaging learning experiences for their students. {Or as I might say…choosing NOT to use AI is a choice!}

To avoid being “old school,” educators must actively seek opportunities to integrate AI into their classrooms. This may involve attending workshops, collaborating with colleagues, and experimenting with various AI tools. By doing so, educators can harness the power of AI to enhance student learning outcomes and prepare them for the AI-driven world they will encounter upon graduation.

I might digress here and note a forth potential process…partnering with students to explore the uses of AI.  At least at the college level, students CAN have some unique viewpoints and creative solutions.  I also fully understand that students can be as resistant to change as some of their faculty.  This dates me, but when teaching at the University of Nebraska in the early 1990’s, I required my students to use email to submit homework.  There was strong resistance, as my students said “email will never catch on with the general public!!!”

Moreover, as the blog post mentions, it is crucial to address the concept of “digital wisdom” and bridge the generational gap between digital natives and digital immigrants. In 2024, this gap may be even more pronounced, with AI being a central focus. Educators must strive to develop their own digital wisdom and help students navigate the complexities of an AI-rich world, ensuring that they can critically evaluate and effectively utilize these powerful tools.

In conclusion, the rapid advancement of AI in education means that not utilizing these technologies could be considered “old school” in 2024. As college faculty members, we must embrace the potential of AI to transform teaching and learning while also fostering digital wisdom among ourselves and our students. By doing so, we can break the cycle of “Old School” and prepare our students for success in an increasingly AI-driven world.

It is sort of obvious that “Claude” is very upbeat about AI!  But I agree with Claude that the world is becoming increasingly AI-driven…a significant point in Ethan Mollick’s latest book – Co-Intelligence (2024).  AI could be used to enhance, rather than replace, human educators.  When I finish Mollick’s book, I will post my thoughts.

To me, the most effective learning experiences in the near future will likely involve a combination of AI-powered tools and the expertise and empathy of us…the human educators.

Cover to book Co-Intelligence by Ethan Mollick

But what do you think?  Do you need to use AI to avoid the label “old school”?


{Graphics: Duncan Hull, Watwood, Alena Gorb, WH Allen}


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