By: Jackie Guan, Product Manager, Product Management
With the explosive availability of AI Large Language Model (LLM) tools, it is well known that ChatGPT and others can and will be used for cheating in academic contexts. It is time for educators to rethink the place of AI in pedagogy and learning. Banning the new tool outright may be a tempting proposition, and necessary for many applications such as final exam settings. Instead, we should think about ways we can incorporate the new tool in our curriculum. Throughout history, there has always been a new tool on the horizon that is ready to disrupt the current status quo, from abacuses and slide rules to calculators and Wikipedia.
A Slide Rule, one of the many tools that was a disruptor for its time credit: Unsplash
The world may not need another 500-word essay analysis of Shakespeare’s portrayal of women in his plays. However, the act of using critical thinking and communication skills to review and process information into a decipherable format for others is even more important in today’s world full of mis- and disinformation. These are skills that we can cultivate and equip learners with as they spend time in our virtual and in-person classrooms.
Education is no longer just about what you know; more than ever, it is about learning how to think and challenge what is presented.
Students in a classroom credit: Unsplash
AI - It's Not All Good
We know that AI is a tool that has disrupted education and the workforce just like the calculator, the internet search engine, and Wikipedia have done in the last 100 years. We should empower learners to understand the limitations of the tools and how to use them as a part of their learning journey.
While it seems like AI can do any and everything, ChatGPT is famously bad at several things:
- Common sense
These are key points to highlight for your learners as you are incorporating AI tools into your new Assignment ideas.
Assignment ideas for Educators
Full disclosure - I consulted ChatGPT to help me get started with this list!
- Creative Writing prompts: You can have students use ChatGPT to generate writing prompts, such as a sentence or a short story idea, and have them use the prompt to write their own story or essay. It is always harder to start with a blank page and it can be so helpful to have AI start some ideas to get their creative juices flowing.
- Information Research, combined with Analysis and Critical Thinking review: ChatGPT can be used like a traditional search engine to help students conduct research on a particular topic. They can ask ChatGPT questions about the topic and receive relevant information to use in their research. This exercise can also help students develop critical thinking skills by asking them to evaluate the responses generated by the AI and determine whether it is accurate or relevant to their research. Have the students include the sources consulted and ask them to rate each source for accuracy and reliability in their assignment submissions.
- Spot the Error: In this type of assignment, generate a ChatGPT response to a word problem and ask the student to spot the error and provide the right answer. While AI is very smart, it can often make mistakes and sound very confident in their answers. Having the students review and spot the error is a great way of highlighting weaknesses of the AI tool for students on a first-hand basis while also forcing them to review the targeted content and learn new concepts.
- Language Learning: ChatGPT can help students learn a new language by allowing them to practice conversational skills and improve and increase their vocabulary. Students can interact with ChatGPT in the language they are learning and receive feedback on their grammar. Regular interactions in their targeted language with ChatGPT will also help them to practice vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills: a great way to enhance their knowledge of the language.
- Debate Prep: ChatGPT can be used to help students prepare for debates by generating arguments for and against a particular topic. Students can use the responses generated by ChatGPT to practice their debate skills and develop counterarguments. In the student assignment submissions, have them include the chatbot’s responses in a separate file submission and do an analysis of how their arguments ranked against those of ChatGPT and if there were any potential errors in the AI’s response.
Remember, for all these ideas, ChatGPT can be used as a virtual writing assistant to help students with their writing and communication skills. If they have been struggling with writing, they can ask ChatGPT for suggestions on sentence structure, grammar, and vocabulary for each piece of writing they submit. This can be an amazing teaching and editing tool for students that need some help with improving their communication skills!
AI chatbot technology is currently at its infancy and we can expect a lot of change in the coming days, months, and years. While the change and impact of AI is unclear, what is clear is that it has already cemented a place in our everyday life, and the usage of AI will only be growing. As educators, our role is to equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet tomorrow’s challenges. Incorporating the use of AI into your assignments will only help further that goal.
Additional sources for Assignment Ideas with AI:
Have you used AI in your pedagogy or do you have ideas for Assignmenst with AI? Leave a comment below to share them with our community!
*Technologies and software/service providers are mentioned in the blog post for purely illustrative purposes. Their mention does not imply that D2L endorses or in any way recommends their usage.