What is the Value of the Teacher in the AI Classroom? — I asked ChatGPT over coffee.

Dr. Rachelle Dené Poth
8 min readJan 31, 2023

Guest post By Tiffany Wycoff

At first glance, the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in the midst of the 2022 holiday season could hardly be counted among the items likely to be on a teacher’s wish list. It’s hard to imagine joy at such a release during my years of teaching middle and high school English, which consisted almost entirely of having students write, then grading student writing. If someone had suggested I introduce a tool that could answer an AP Lit open response question in a matter of seconds to my students, I would have contemplated quitting.

And yet, today I find myself both in awe at the dawn of this reality and curious about what it really means to be a teacher within it. As I pondered the questions — How will ChatGPT affect learning? How can teachers use it as a tool in their classrooms? How can teachers learn to both recognize and teach students the unique role and value of the human in an AI classroom and world? — I had the thought, maybe I should just ask the machine.

So, on an ordinary day at work for me “in the cloud,” I grabbed a cup of coffee and settled into a chat with my computer. I found myself immensely curious. Would ChatGPT have some decent answers? Where would I find its limitations? Could this conversation help teachers start to understand the power of this technology as both an empowering tool and a frustrating reality? After a thrilling chat that lasted less than 5 minutes, I have to say…I think it could. Below is our coffee talk, with ChatGPT’s unedited contributions in purple.

ChatGPT: I’m sorry, but I am not familiar with a chatbot or language model called ChatGPT. Could you provide more context or clarify your question?

(Ha! Clearly we’re not off to a good start. I refrain from asking GPT, “Are you being ironic?”)

ChatGPT: Generative artificial intelligence (AI) systems, such as language models like GPT-3, have the potential to revolutionize education by providing new ways for students to learn and interact with educational content.

One potential application of generative AI in education is the creation of personalized learning experiences. For example, a language model could be used to generate customized learning materials or activities based on a student’s individual needs and interests. This could help students learn at their own pace and in a way that is most engaging and effective for them.

Generative AI could also be used to create simulations or virtual environments for students to interact with, providing hands-on learning experiences that would be difficult or impossible to replicate in a physical classroom.

Another potential use of generative AI in education is the creation of interactive tutoring systems that can respond to a student’s questions and provide real-time feedback and guidance.

Overall, the use of generative AI in education has the potential to make learning more personalized, interactive, and efficient. However, it is important to carefully consider the ethical implications of using AI in education and to ensure that it is used in a way that supports and enhances, rather than replaces, traditional teaching methods.

(Really? You think we should consider the ethical implications on AI in education when all this AI is out there in the “open” for free? That’s very intelligent of you! Thank you.)

ChatGPT: There are many potential ways that teachers can use artificial intelligence (AI) in lesson planning and teaching. Here are a few examples:

  1. Personalized learning: AI can be used to create customized learning materials and activities for individual students based on their needs, interests, and learning style. This can help students learn at their own pace and in a way that is most engaging and effective for them.
  2. Grading and feedback: AI can be used to grade assignments and provide feedback to students in real-time. This can save teachers time and allow them to focus on more high-impact tasks, such as providing one-on-one feedback and support to students who need it.
  3. Content creation: AI can be used to create educational content, such as videos, simulations, or interactive exercises. This can help teachers create engaging and interactive learning experiences for their students.
  4. Data analysis: AI can be used to analyze data on student performance and engagement, providing insights and recommendations for teachers to use in their lesson planning.
  5. Collaboration and communication: AI can be used to facilitate collaboration and communication between students, teachers, and parents. For example, AI-powered chatbots or virtual assistants can be used to answer common questions and provide support to students and parents.

It’s important to keep in mind that AI should be used as a tool to support and enhance traditional teaching methods, rather than replacing them.

(This is actually a solid list of ideas for teachers! We may be onto something.)

ChatGPT: There are many potential ways that teachers can use their time effectively with students in a classroom with artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Some potential approaches include:

  1. Personalized instruction: Teachers can use AI technology to create personalized learning experiences for students based on their individual needs, interests, and learning styles. This can involve using AI to generate customized materials or activities, or to provide real-time feedback and support to students as they work.
  2. Collaborative learning: Teachers can use AI technology to facilitate collaboration and communication between students, allowing them to work together on projects, share ideas, and learn from one another.
  3. Problem-based learning: Teachers can use AI technology to create interactive, real-world problem-solving exercises for students. This can involve using simulations, virtual environments, or other interactive tools to help students apply their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways.
  4. Project-based learning: Teachers can use AI technology to create engaging and interactive projects for students to work on, allowing them to explore their interests and learn through hands-on experiences.
  5. One-on-one support: Teachers can use their time with students to provide individualized feedback and support to those who need it most. This can involve working with students one-on-one or in small groups to provide targeted help and guidance.

Overall, the best use of a teacher’s time with students in a classroom with AI technology will depend on the specific needs and goals of the students, as well as the teacher’s teaching style and expertise. It’s important to consider how AI can be used as a tool to support and enhance traditional teaching methods, rather than replacing them.

(Ding ding ding! We’re getting so close in number 5, time for one-on-one support.)

ChatGPT: There are many things that humans can do that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot. Some examples include:

  1. Creativity: Humans have the ability to generate new and original ideas, whereas AI is limited to the knowledge and capabilities that have been programmed into it.
  2. Empathy: Humans have the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, whereas AI lacks the capacity to feel emotions.
  3. Moral reasoning: Humans have the ability to make moral and ethical judgments, whereas AI can only follow the rules and instructions it has been given.
  4. Social interactions: Humans have the ability to form complex social relationships and engage in social interactions in a nuanced and subtle way, whereas AI is limited in its ability to understand and navigate social situations.
  5. Physical tasks: Humans have the ability to perform a wide range of physical tasks, such as lifting, carrying, and manipulating objects, whereas AI is limited in its physical capabilities.

Overall, there are many things that humans can do that AI cannot, and it is likely that this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. While AI can perform some tasks more efficiently or accurately than humans, it is still limited in its ability to think, feel, and behave like a human.

(And this, my friends, is at the heart of what we’ve been talking about. We as humans need to be clear about what our unique value is within this reality. Machines work on algorithms…we need to level up our human-only skills. We need to be what we at LINC call “generative humans.”)

ChatGPT: It’s not clear what you mean by a “generative human.” In the context of artificial intelligence (AI), the term “generative” typically refers to the ability of a system to generate new and original output, such as text, images, or music. For example, a generative AI system might be trained on a large dataset of text and then be able to generate new, coherent sentences or paragraphs based on that training.

If you are asking about the concept of a “generative human” in a broader sense, it’s possible that you might be referring to the idea of humans as creative or productive beings. In this context, a generative human might be someone who is able to generate new ideas, solutions, or products through their creativity and ingenuity.

I hope this helps to clarify things. If you have a specific question or context in mind, please let me know and I’ll do my best to assist you.

(Precisely! Yes, you have “clarified things,” meaning you have drawn the same connection I have been pondering. Thank you for seeing things my way GPT!)

ChatGPT: The server experienced an error while processing your request. Sorry about that! You can retry your request, or contact us through our help center at help.openai.com if the error persists.

(Well, that’s embarrassing. Let’s resubmit…maybe you got lost in the logic.)

A generative teacher might be someone who is able to generate new and innovative ways of teaching and learning in the classroom. This might involve creating personalized learning experiences for students based on their needs, interests, and learning styles; using technology and other tools to facilitate collaboration and communication among students; or developing interactive, problem-based learning exercises that allow students to apply their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways.

In general, a generative teacher might be someone who is able to think creatively and adaptively, and who is always looking for ways to improve and innovate their teaching methods. They might be open to new ideas and technologies, and be willing to try out different approaches in order to find what works best for their students.

(And just like that, you’ve made my point. The value of the teacher in the reality of AI is human connection and creativity. It is generativity in living, breathing motion.) About the Author Tiffany Wycoff is the Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder of LINC. Connect with Tiffany on Twitter @teachontheedge.

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Originally published at http://rdene915.com on January 31, 2023.

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Dr. Rachelle Dené Poth

I am a Spanish and STEAM Emerging Tech Teacher, Attorney, Author and Blogger, Learning Enthusiast and EdTech Consultant