Clarity, Not Answers

Submitted By:
Elizabeth Morley, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Lab School, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

Navigating a World of Generative AI: Suggestions for Educators by Lydia Cao and Chris Dede
The Next Level Lab at Harvard Graduate School of Education, July 28, 2023

This paper from the Harvard Next Level Lab is a read that many will find both inviting and disruptive. As its title promises, it is for “navigationists” (likely most of us) looking for pathways of possibility in a world in which generative AI exists, is not going away, and demands a change-focused rethinking of our roles and our students’ needs. The paper has a welcome clarity, though it does not give answers. It is organized around a few simply stated suggestions for educators to consider and discuss, each with a concise, evidence-based explanation that could trigger staff-wide reflection or personal professional pondering. The authors encourage demystifying AI, examining how and why to teach learners the nature of generative AI. Links take us to material appropriate for young learners as well as upper-grade students. The authors then explore deeply the educational value of a focus on the process of learning rather than the product – far from a new concept, but a vitally important one when we look at how we ask our students to show us what they know in a world with AI at their fingertips. If the motivation for learning is shifting to process, what will assessment look like? What will motivate student agency? Can we give students the tools to discern when, where, and how to use AI while keeping their curiosity and motivation alive? Of highest interest is the paper’s clear acceptance that the future is now and that schools will need to determine, in their own contexts, how to cultivate skills that AI cannot perform for our students, incorporating their lived experience and understanding into locally significant solutions to big challenges.

Teaching Practice