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Growth Over Grades Podcast: Episode 13 - Katie McNamara & Dr. Alec Couros

Ep. 13 | Katie McNamara & Dr. Alec Couros "Empowering Educators: Using Chat GPT"
Melody McAllister
May 8, 2023

Ep. 13 | Empowering Educators: Using Chat GPT

Welcome to the Growth Over Grades Podcast where we talk about education ideas and topics that matter most to our SpacesEDU Educator Community.

At the beginning of each episode, I like to feature an amazing educator in our community. I want to give a shoutout to leader and international keynote (among many other titles and roles) Ken Shelton. Ken is part of our SpacesEDU community and I was able to attend a couple of his Spring CUE sessions recently. I have learned so much from my friend throughout the years, especially how important it is to constantly self-reflect and know what you stand for in education and life and how that directly affects those we are trying to reach and teach.

Ken also has a lot of knowledge about our topic today, using ChatGPT or Artificial Intelligence in education/the classroom, and you will definitely learn more if you follow him. Thank you, Ken, for being part of our community and always sharing your knowledge and expertise!

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ChatGPT is Everywhere

Everywhere I go, online or in conferences in the education community, educators are talking about ChatGPT and other AI platforms. Some leaders embrace it while others have shut the door on this tool immediately. My guests, the extraordinary Katie McNamara and Dr. Alec Couros have quite a bit to share on using ChatGPT that may surprise you (or not).

Recently, I sat in a very informative session at Spring CUE led by Katie McNamara. Katie is a media specialist, teacher librarian, speaker, curriculum designer, leader and wears many hats in education and life. My knowledge of ChatGPT was pretty limited as it is not a tool I would naturally use, but she showed us that this tool can actually help educators reclaim time and I was hooked. When talking about the title for this episode, she encouraged me to use ChatGPT for help, so I did and it worked. (It gave me ideas and I tweaked them until I was satisfied.)

Dr. Alec Couros is a leader whom I have been learning from for years. Alec is a researcher, professor, speaker, and consultant. Using his social media platforms he has been asking educators questions about using Cha GPT for planning, instruction, and assessment and even training on it. He cares so much about strengthening education, I knew he had to be on this episode.

Spring CUE: Educators on Fire Finish the Year Strong!

ChatGPT and AI is Scary for Some Educators

While our community has mostly embraced this new technology, many districts have blocked ChatGPT outright. Cheating is the most obvious reason why, but Katie and Alec take it even deeper. With this new AI, change must happen. How will it affect literacy? How can we change our lessons to use it in a productive way? Katie says if students can use it to cheat, we need to be changing our “asks” in lesson design. Both talk about personalizing our AI. Alec suggests using it like a teacher in how we train it.

How can we train our ChatGpt? Every time we interact with it, we are training it, so what we tell it, truth or not, is how it will “learn” to interact with us. Alec brings up “prompt engineering” which is crafting prompts to help generate various outputs, and this is a learning process! Katie encourages us to rethink to recraft!

AI Can Help Reclaim Time

In this powerful conversation, both guests talk about using this new tool to do administrative tasks which frees us up to do more in life and work. We also talk about different platforms where AI is already being used.

So…how can we ban ChatGPT or AI when it already exists everywhere?

Katie shares, “AI is not replacing us.” She says we know what our students need and that’s how we will know how to use it and where we need to change it up. AI is not perfect. However, AI helps us reclaim our time because we no longer have to “start from scratch.” Both guests suggested using AI as a partner who can help generate questions and get us started on tasks when our brains are tired or we feel overwhelmed with starting something new.

AI in Assessment & Entry Points into New Tools

We also discussed how AI can help in assessment when it comes to rubrics, student feedback, and English language learning. Used well, students can receive feedback immediately. For ELLs, AI could be a translation tool, so students are spending less time in confusion and more time learning.

For those who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy, Katie suggests diving in with whatever you are thinking about at the moment, even if it’s thinking up plans for gifts or recipes. Alec says his son, who is eight years old, started using it to write stories about himself.

When we dive into these tools and explore it with our students, we are beginning to model how they can use it for whatever role or topic they are currently working in. The point is to not be afraid. This is a learning curve for all of us and the only mistake is denying it exists or has no place in our classrooms or world.

We can’t stop the AI train whether it’s being driven by ChatGPT or other platforms. Banning it out of fear of cheating helps no one. We can adapt so it becomes a tool that partners with us and even saves us time. We may not be sure how to harness its power, yet, but we will learn. Our students will learn right along with us. The power we see today is nothing compared to what AI will be capable of in their future.

Follows & Show Notes

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Prompt Engineering

More Prompt Engineering Ideas

Harnessing the Power of Generative AI in Teaching & Learning

Find out more about Katie McNamara's Work

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