The Sky is Falling … AGAIN

Education is a place where we regularly hear fears about things impinging on our schools. This is particularly true when we talk about technology. Whenever a new technology approaches we sometimes hear negative reactions from the community. Technology is great until someone says it isn’t.

“The sky is falling. Save yourself!”

Let’s review some of the historical examples of technology fear:

This Trendsetter from the 70s Changed Math Classrooms Forever
  • Calculators – when these new electronic devices became widely available and affordable in the mid 70s the fear was that they would make students illiterate in math.
  • Internet – this innovation provided more immediate access to information as compared to the antiquated Dewey Decimal System card catalogue in the library. It was going to create chaos in our classrooms with rampant plagiarism.
  • Online Learning – this new type of virtual instruction was going to completely negate classroom teachers and change education into simple, rote memorization.
  • Wolfram Alpha – Introduced in 2009, this new website allowed users to generate answers to mathematic problems by using the site’s formulas. It would make learning math irrelevant and allow for rampant cheating.

None of those catastrophes happened — more on this in a bit.

(More on Page 2)

11 thoughts on “The Sky is Falling … AGAIN

  1. One of my profs at Uni said that in assembly line model (in which we still find ourselves) when things begin to shake loos and change, the first reaction is to tighten down the belt (ie prevent the change). Eventually the change comes and we adapt. The Chat AI you are mentioning seems very like the chats now found as customer service on many corporate sites. It “responds” with a preprogramed reaction that is sometimes helpful, but at others is simply frustrating (kind of like predictive text!). As with most progress that people would like to stop or limit, the our response needs to involve critical thinking. Our responsibility, as educators, is to help our students look at evidence and look logically to sift through information and misinformation to find reliable sources to corroborate what we read, and to think about possible bias that might lie in what looks like conversation (or advertising).


    • Well stated, Sheila. Critical thinking is such a ‘critical’ skill for our students to have some mastery over. Chat GPT is just another opportunity to teach them about it. Thank you for your comments.


  2. Outstanding post! I like the way this article discusses the fear that Chat GPT, a powerful AI bot that has already topped out at 1 million users, will destroy education.
    I’m glad you also cover how this fear is baseless and misses golden opportunities to build awareness and expectations about its use.


    • Thank you for your comments. We can’t hide from the reality of AI, so how are we going to not only respond to it, but use it to our collective advantage in education. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.


  3. It made me a really nice course outline for English 10, including a scope and sequence for 18 weeks of instruction in reading and writing, including suggested Canadian Indigenous literature, included assessment strategies, core competencies etc etc. It can also make teacher evaluations – they are a bit bland though.


    • Yes, some of the production I’ve seen is pretty good — not perfect by any means, and it can be dated — but, still quite interesting. We are certainly at the beginning of this new use for AI.


  4. I was (and still am) a big fan of Wolfram Alpha (though I am a bit rusty on refined queries). Its always great to go to this and watch the “lights come on and cogs start to turn” when someone is first exposed to this awesome and extremely powerful tool. And I have always thought smart phones, etc were a fantastic tool to be leveraged, not banned (remembering fondly having classes jumping up and down . I am sure it won’t take long to leverage Chat AIs to improve learning and encourage critical thinking, etc…I follow a number of professors who are looking at it as a starting tool to generate discussion and critical thinking…others to do a starting build to their guest speaking (it has a great knack for providing a start but where it fails tends to trigger thoughts on “oh, this is missed, we have moved past that, oh I must remember to say,….etc). Exciting times! Now, just to find Chicken Little a relaxing place to collect themself before the next “alarm”.

    Thank you for your post on this topic! (and for reminding of Chris Kennedy’s post)


    • Hi Clint. Thanks for your comments. I agree — we need to find ways of working with Chat GPT. It’s here and not going away — and there will be others down the road. I appreciate you taking the time to write.


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