#168 – AI, ChatGPT, and Education, with Angela Maiers

Unpacking Education March 22, 2023 50 min

“The divide between the haves and the have-nots, the skilled and the unskilled, the educated and the non-educated has not been technology,” says our guest, Angela Maiers. “The divide is literacy. Literacy represents power and privilege.”

ChatGPT is one of the newest examples of disruptive technology to become mainstream, and it will require our students to develop a new set of literacy skills. This will be critical since early indications suggest that artificial intelligence (AI) and tools like ChatGPT will likely impact many aspects of daily life, including jobs, news, and education. This infusion will require not only new literacy skills but also a new understanding and new ways of approaching learning.

Angela Maiers joins us on this episode to unpack this potentially confusing topic and help educators take steps toward using AI and ChatGPT in ways that benefit them, their students, and humanity.

Read a transcript of this episode.

Paul Beckermann
PreK–12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
STEM Facilitator and Digital Learning Specialist
Dr. Winston Benjamin
Social Studies and English Language Arts Facilitator

The challenge is not just to bring technology to the classroom but to use it in ways that deepen learning, engage students, and empower teachers.

Karen Cator, former director of the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education


The following resources are available from AVID and on AVID Open Access to explore related topics in more depth:

Co-Creation and Humanity

ChatGPT is an example of generative artificial intelligence, which has caused some new anxiety in education circles. It’s a bit mysterious, and it sometimes feels threatening to schools as it’s currently designed. To put this new technology in perspective, our guest, Angela Maiers, encourages us to think of generative AI and tools like ChatGPT as learning partners and co-creators.

Angela explains, “If you’re not setting yourself up as a critical co-collaborator in the process and you’re just hoping the AI will do it for you, it will not.” Artificial intelligence can be transformational in the creative process, but tools like this will only be as powerful as the interactions you initiate, the inputs you provide, and the way you use the content that is produced. In other words, even though ChatGPT can make your work much more efficient and help you make new connections between ideas that you may have otherwise missed, it won’t do all the work for you. It is still a copilot that is dependent on you, your vision, and your input.

Angela also reminds us that this isn’t as much about technology as it is about humanity. She believes humanity is at the center of using any form of artificial intelligence, and she says that AI is “driven by the human and humanity’s purpose, not the computer’s purpose, so we’ve got to keep humanity and humanness at the front and the forefront of all these discussions. It is not about technology. It’s about humanity.” The following are a few highlights from our conversation:

  • About Our Guest: Angela Maiers is a world-renowned author, entrepreneur, international keynote speaker, and educator. She is considered one of today’s most influential thought leaders in education and transformative thinking. She is the author of nine books, including the highly acclaimed Genius Matters and Classroom Habitudes. Most recently, she has been named as one of the Top 5 Edupreneurs to Watch by Forbes, as one of the Top 20 Global Influencers by IBM, among the Top 100 Women in Technology by Onalytics, and among the Top 20 Education Thought Leaders by TrustEd.
  • Continual Change: “I think this is like the essence of learning out loud in front of kids,” says Angela. “Like kids think you have it all down, and anyone that says they have AI down, and they’re like an expert, and they know what they’re doing, you run from them because you know what you’re doing for 14 seconds. It changes. It advances, so this is like learning at light speed. It’s really pretty fascinating.”
  • Advancing Humanity and Learning: “Because I have said from the very beginning no matter what technology you’re using, it should have one simple goal, which is to advance humanity. And by advancing humanity, you are automatically advancing learning, but it doesn’t have to be something drastic.”
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): “AI, at its most basic level, is just computers doing things using algorithms, and doing things that used to require human intelligence. So when a human had to physically do it or mentally do it, in artificial intelligence, now allows computers to replace that specific human task.”
  • Generative AI: “Generative AI, which is more important to talk about in addition to ChatGPT, because ChatGPT is literally the tip-, tip-, tip-, tip-, tip-top of this whole body of AI’s advancement, which is generative AI, and so if we break that down, generative: to generate, to create, to grow, basically any human output that has existed since the beginning of time.”
  • An Empowering Partnership: Angela says, with AI, “You are literally, in conjunction, in partnership with a computer, creating something that didn’t exist before . . . I find that incredibly not only exciting, I find it empowering because . . . you are actually co-creating meaning and content and ideas with the computer, and here’s the cool part: in real time. In real time, you can regenerate it better and smarter, in a matter of milliseconds, and that is absolutely stunning.” She adds, “That’s power we’ve never had at our fingertips, and our kids have never had.”
  • ChatGPT: “At its basic form, it’s a language generation artificial intelligence.” You type in a question or prompt, and the AI gives you complete, meaningful sentences in return. Some people say it feels like a conversation with the computer. Angela says that the power lies in the access to an immense database of content. She explains, “That is the pot you get to pull from when you’re thinking about creating your own idea. That is not only the inspiration, that’s the outline. That could be a potential framework. That is your co-writing partner, and you have that at your fingertips. That’s ChatGPT.”
  • A Foundation Upon Which to Build: AI can be used to spark creativity. Angela says, “Every artist, in every essence, from the beginning of time, used other people’s work as inspiration. They used other people’s work as a foundation. It is in those partnerships, and those fusions, and those nuances that we get to the place of new work. And every single day, new work, new art, new perspective is being inserted into the world, and that’s a beautiful thing.”
  • Literacy: Just like any other form of communication or area of study, AI interfaces require students and teachers to master a new kind of literacy. This new literacy will be important if we want our students to be empowered in a world of artificial intelligence. Entering this new territory can be scary for teachers. Still, it’s important that teachers learn about it, so they can help their students. Angela says, “It’s like driver’s education. This is a new road they have to navigate on. I am not going to give my kids the keys to a car, even though they think they know everything about driving, and put them on that road unless I’ve driven it first.” She adds, “When I see a technology that will influence how you will navigate and engage in the world, and it is not going away, it is not going away, you have a moral obligation to not ignore that.”
  • A Moral Obligation: Angela says, “When I see a technology that will influence how you will navigate and engage in the world, and it is not going away—it is not going away—you have a moral obligation to not ignore that.” She adds, “It’s like driver’s education. This is a new road they have to navigate on. I am not going to give my kids the keys to a car, even though they think they know everything about driving, and put them on that road unless I’ve driven it first.”

Guiding Questions

If you are listening to the podcast with your instructional team or would like to explore this topic more deeply, here are guiding questions to prompt your reflection:

  • What is artificial intelligence?
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • What is your school’s position on using AI and ChatGPT in school?
  • What is the significance of AI being generative?
  • How can teachers use ChatGPT and AI to form a powerful partnership?
  • What skills will students need in order to be able to effectively use AI and ChatGPT?
  • How might you use AI and ChatGPT in your school or classroom?
  • What questions do you still have about AI and ChatGPT?

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