The Edge

The AI Frontier With Utah Education Network

December 07, 2023 ISTE
The AI Frontier With Utah Education Network
The Edge
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The Edge
The AI Frontier With Utah Education Network
Dec 07, 2023

Join Georgia and Jessica as they explore the AI Frontier with Matt, Val, and Nicole from Utah Education Network. Learn about AI literacy and why AI is important to explore with your learners. 

Show Notes Transcript

Join Georgia and Jessica as they explore the AI Frontier with Matt, Val, and Nicole from Utah Education Network. Learn about AI literacy and why AI is important to explore with your learners. 


Georgia Terlaje: It's time for the edge, a podcast from the it's the community leaders. If you are an educator, administrator, or anyone in the field of education, this is a podcast for you. Throughout the upcoming episodes, ITSD community leaders will present stories of those who are engaged in the challenging yet fulfilling work of education.

Georgia Terlaje: Coming up today, we're going to be chatting about artificial intelligence with some very special guests. I'm one of your community leader hosts, Georgia Terlahi. I'm a TK 5 instructional coach and an educator of 34 years, and I'm here with my favorite partner in crime, Jessica Pack. 

Jessica Pack: Thanks, Georgia. I'm Jessica Pack, a middle school teacher and an ISTE author. I'm really looking forward to today's episode because this is a rabbit hole that I have been living in for the last few months. Artificial intelligence and how to harness it in your classroom. Today we are joined by our fellow ISTE community leader and podcast producer, [00:01:00] Matt Winters.

Jessica Pack: Matt, could you please introduce yourself to listeners and also introduce your guests?

Matthew Winters: Absolutely. It's, it's nice to be talking to other people that have fallen down this rabbit hole. So. Utterly, that it's hard to find the top anymore. AI is just so great. We're so excited to talk about it today.

Matthew Winters: My name is Matt Winters. As Georgia said, I'm an ISTE community leader. I'm also the producer for this podcast. But then also I, I, my day job is I work for Utah Education Network in Salt Lake City. We're a nonprofit that supports Utah educators in a variety of ways with educational technology and free courses.

Matthew Winters: And over the last few months our team there, and I've been lucky to be a part of this, we've been building a course free for Utah educators called the AI frontier. 

Matthew Winters: That has launched in May, and it was part of our celebration in Utah of National AI Day. So I'll pass it off to one of my colleagues, Nicole, and then we'll hear from Val. [00:02:00] Awesome. 

Nicole Johnson: My name is Nicole Johnson, and I have the awesome opportunity to work with Matt and Val and the rest of our awesome team at Utah Education Network, as Matt mentioned.

Nicole Johnson: I'm like, what do I say? Officially, I am a content specialist with UEN, and traditionally in the past, I have worked with counselors in all K 12 settings. I've been a college and career advisor. So with educational technology, 

Georgia Terlaje: I 

Nicole Johnson: like to do everything that has to do with Counseling and college and career advising.

Nicole Johnson: Imagine that. So Val, the mic is now yours. 

Val O'Bryan: I love working with Matt and Nicole at the Utah Education Network. Before I worked for UEN, I was a high school English and Spanish teacher. So it's fun to bring that experience in and look at the different ways. We've already been dealing with struggles with AI in those content areas before and now how things are continuing to change [00:03:00] 

Georgia Terlaje: or so glad to have all of you here today.

Georgia Terlaje: This is a hot topic. I know artificial intelligence is all the buzz everywhere, but especially in educational circles. So for starters, for listeners, what is it and why shouldn't we be afraid of it?

Georgia Terlaje: Don't everyone jump at once.

Nicole Johnson: So AI, I think the biggest part of AI is we know this is not going anywhere. And when we look at the future of our students and education, we know that, well, what we don't know is that we don't know exactly what jobs we're preparing students for in the future. So our industry is going to change and likely rapidly.

Nicole Johnson: So I think it's educators, us trying to figure out and grapple. With this new edge of technology on what we need to do and how can we prepare our students to be those critical thinkers and problem solvers and, you know, learn how to use AI in their new world of work, essentially. So for education, it's like, we [00:04:00] can't just shut the door and pretend that this doesn't exist because this is going to, you know, rule the world, rule our industry.

Nicole Johnson: And it's our job as educators to make sure we're preparing students to go into those fields and interact with, you know, AI and use them as a tool. 

Georgia Terlaje: So could anyone just give, like, the short and sweet definition for what we're talking about with artificial intelligence, just in case some people listening are still not quite clear and haven't been diving in the rabbit hole like everyone else has.

Matthew Winters: Yeah, I can, I can jump in on that. So artificial intelligence has been around for a really, really long time. It's, it's not something that's actually new inside of computer science. It's, it's been, it was proposed in the 1940s. It was developed as a concept and as a term in the 1950s where it was coalesced and then kind of built on, and then it really took off.

Matthew Winters: Towards the 1970s through 90s as a kind of a government platform or a government project. And then it was taken over by private industry. But basically the idea of artificial intelligence [00:05:00] is, is teaching a machine using machine learning to, to think like a human and to, to process information like a human, whether it be a simple practice like sorting material or identifying Like for instance, a butterfly based on certain characteristics to now generating materials, which is why AI is taking off over the last few months is that it's, it's, like I said, not been, it's not a new idea, but the idea of generative AI for creating objects, creating video, creating text, that's the new part of it.

Matthew Winters: And it's moving so quickly. And I think that's why so many educators might be afraid of is that all of a sudden, Chad, GPT four was on our doorstep in November. And then it opened up a ton of doors. And now just this last week barred by Google became open for use. And now it's generating music. I mean, it's moving that quickly for us.

Matthew Winters: And so I think that's where a lot of the fear comes from is that we just move so quickly with AI. We've, it seems like [00:06:00] in the last six months to a year that it's really changed how we paid attention to it and the kind of visuals with it. 

Jessica Pack: What are some examples of good integration? How would you develop PD on AI for educators?

Val O'Bryan: One of the things we had to do a lot of searching on was actually AI literacy. And what that entails and how to teach a I literacy to students. And so I would always suggest if you're thinking about implementing and something from a I, whether you're having students use a I or you're using a I.

Val O'Bryan: Take a look at the best practices for, for AI literacy. You're not just having them use a tool, but you also need to help them understand all of the implications ethics and, and [00:07:00] the background of what they're, this machine is doing for them. AI literacy, everybody needs to learn about it.

Matthew Winters: As we were adding on to that Val, one of the things that that came out in part of our conversation, but I think where we really started with this course was we were looking at AI, like many of us have done in education and we were just seeing these weird oddball AIs pop up. Like I remember sending a Nicole.

Matthew Winters: This AI from NVIDIA allows you to program your eyes to stay on the camera at any time, even though you might turn your head, your eyes stay facing forward. And we were like, that's strange and weird. But then for me, at least I started looking at some of these, these AIs and going, there's cross curricular approaches here.

Matthew Winters: There's ways to use this. ELA. There's ways to use this in career and college readiness. There's ways to use this in administration that could really help [00:08:00] us to be more effective and training students for their futures. Like I always think about a eyes where they're giving feedback to students on their body.

Matthew Winters: It's like body movements and their facial expressions and their tone of voice, like how important that will be for interviews down the, down the way in their life to saving teachers time in their classroom, using something like conquer to create quizzes quickly off of the text that you can get formative assessments done quickly with your students.

Matthew Winters: So I think there's a lot of ways that we're seeing, and this is one of those problems about AI is that we're not sure how it's going to shake out yet. Cause it's so new, but. Building off of and being able to really see where we've been kind of building over the last couple months and exposing teachers to the weirdness, but then also thinking about cross curricularly.

Matthew Winters: How can we prepare students for a world with AI and what are some cool practices there as well? 

Georgia Terlaje: And I think that diving in like teachers need to at least get their [00:09:00] feet wet with some of these things just to play with it. So that like you said, Matt, like we're not afraid of it and we can kind of, you know, stay ahead of it as much as we can.

Georgia Terlaje: I know Jessica and I were teaching a movie making class a couple of weeks ago and one of the English teachers, we were talking about chat GBT put in rap battle with Romeo and Juliet and it created it like. In ten seconds. It was brilliant. Like, how cool would that be, like, in a high school English class, to have rap battles between literary characters that you could create, and then you could kind of tweak as sort of a template for other things.

Matthew Winters: I may have when I got access to Bard earlier this week or last week whenever that was asked it to create lesson plans for me on James Joyce using James Joyce's voice, and it wrote a lesson plan for me and his voice. And I, I, it blew me away. It was like 10 seconds and boom, but it's that weird, [00:10:00] fun.

Matthew Winters: Like exposure that we need to have, and it's not just for us as educators. It's for, I think, all levels of education. I don't know, Nicole, what do you think? 

Nicole Johnson: Yeah, I think we kind of, you know, have thought about this idea too, that AI really has become K through gray. Like us as educators, we're learning right alongside students on what this is going to look like and how it changes and how we roll with those changes.

Nicole Johnson: And I think we saw a little bit of this during COVID and the soft closures, it was like a sudden hard shift for educators. Like everything that you taught and everything that you knew suddenly had to become digital and virtual. And assessments had to change because students had access to Google 24 7 and that kind of thing.

Nicole Johnson: And AI, once again, is kind of asking us, like, to make this shift and, you know, really reassess and reimagine how we're going to incorporate this. And we're definitely going to be learning right alongside our students for a long time. 

Georgia Terlaje: Which is awesome. Because I think that's kind of an equity piece. I love you know, we're doing tech in [00:11:00] classrooms where they're learning with me because it really makes them feel part of the community instead of the teacher is the stage on the stage, you know, talk about that a lot.

Georgia Terlaje: Got to be teachers facilitator and Show that it's okay not to know, but we can play with it. So my next question is like, how can AI help educators meet the goals of their districts with regard to UDL, SEL and equity and inclusion?

Matthew Winters: I don't know if this answers that question, but I do think this is like, there's something so important that you're asking their Georgia about AI. And with these other large scale initiative questions like SEL and DEI that you're talking about it's not just that we as educators are gonna be learning again, like with our students on some of these technologies that come out, but it's also Our leadership, both state, national, and [00:12:00] local in schools and buildings that are going to be learning along with us on this process, because like we all have said already before, this is an ongoing conversation and it's not going anywhere.

Matthew Winters: It's going to be ongoing for quite a long time. It's interesting to see some of the responses that we've seen to AI nationwide on kind of local levels. A lot of districts have banned AI almost. They just went, it's gone. Like we're not even gonna, you know, deal with that bear if they want to deal with what you put that way.

Matthew Winters: What's been interesting is that here in Utah, we had, I was, I was told the story by a friend of mine that at a local conference, they went to a. They had a superintendent who didn't want to have AI in their district, shut it down immediately, blocked all the websites. Then he went to this local conference, saw a presentation on AI and the power for students and teachers, learned about how it could be harnessed, and immediately went and [00:13:00] unblocked that site.

Matthew Winters: I think that right there shows that sometimes you fear it up front. Like any large scale initiative, whether it's technology or like you said, social, emotional learning or diversity, equity, inclusion, but we have to learn about together and, and build off of it. 

Georgia Terlaje: What I think those like, and also for UDL, like being able to scaffold learning for kiddos.

Georgia Terlaje: I mean, stuff that I've seen in elementary land is being able to scaffold like passages where you just dump them in there and you can raise or lower. On the Lexile level so that it is equitable and accessible and breaks down those barriers from that standpoint. Hopefully districts will not be afraid because you know, that's kind of what our job is all about is breaking down barriers.

Nicole Johnson: Absolutely tagging onto that. I think, you know as we've kind of. Dived a little deeper into a lot of the AI software that's out there. A lot of the stuff teachers are already, you know, unbeknownst to them using in programs [00:14:00] within their districts and stuff. So it's so interesting when you hear that, you know, superintendents are like, oh, no, we're going to ban this.

Nicole Johnson: And it's like, hey, but you're already kind of using AI in this software and kind of going back to DEI and SEL. There's been so many great things like you're talking about with the Lexile levels, being able to, you know, amend those for students and comprehension levels and for our ELL learners. There's lots of skills that you can use to support students with different AI programs in specific areas that they're struggling with so they can become independent learners and use AI as a crutch in the classroom for the specific needs that they have.

Nicole Johnson: I think this is going to be an awesome tool. I mean, in Utah, we call it MTSS, our multi tiered systems of 

Georgia Terlaje: support. We call that in California too. 

Nicole Johnson: Perfect. Yeah, I was like, they call it different everywhere I go. So and usually it's like a weekly meeting of like, you know, what students are struggling with and how we can support them.

Nicole Johnson: And as I've looked through AI resources, it's been really awesome to kind of re imagine how these resources can really. [00:15:00] Help support students. So the fear of, like, students are going to be cheating and this, that, the other that comes with AI, all the fears, the more I look into it, kind of like that superintendent you were talking about, Matt, the more I'm like, super excited to see how it can support our learners.

Georgia Terlaje: So that leads naturally to a Jessica question, which, how would you develop a professional development on AI for educators?

Nicole Johnson: No, it's funny because when we first developed a course on PDs, we were coming together with ideas. One of the very first things we asked ChatGPT was, what do we call this course? So just to, you know, figure out stuff, it was a great idea generation.

Nicole Johnson: But I think really... Matt and some of our other team members were kind of the frontiers of figuring out what, what AI PD was going to look like, at least in our state, within our team and what we wanted to share with 

Georgia Terlaje: educators. So what are you rolling out first? Like, I'm just spitballing, [00:16:00] like you're going to do like an intro PD for teachers.

Georgia Terlaje: What are some topics you think you would cover in that? Because I imagine if some listeners would be thinking, oh, I need to do this in my district to what should we be covering in a intro? Kind of class. 

Matthew Winters: Well, I, I think let's just talk about the course. So we're lucky in Utah. Like some states across the country where we have a Utah education network, we're able to provide PD for free for any teacher in the state as long as they're publicly funded.

Matthew Winters: And so we were offering what is called, and this will be open when this episode airs and if you're interested, feel free to check the show notes and email us if you're, we want to talk more deeply about it, but it's a open ended course that teachers can complete at any time at their own pace and then they can get credit for that course.

Matthew Winters: And so when we were building this course, we wanted that flexibility. I think there's something in the 21st century, especially post COVID, where we want to have [00:17:00] teachers be able to put, set their own pace and their own needs. And so that was a big thing for us as, as designers in this course was we want to make sure that was, that was set up.

Matthew Winters: And then the, the, the big, where we started out is it's kind of like a giant funnel. So AI is such a deep, dark, black hole of, of material right now that you could fall and, and really maybe not even get anything out of the afternoon or hour you spend in that, that material gathering. And so what we started off with was the question of what is AI?

Matthew Winters: What are some, what are, what are the best ideas around AI right now? And what are the types of AI and then some history stuff, but then it funneled down as we go towards questions about how do we understand the kind of ethical implications surrounding AI things with copyright with cheating, those sorts of things to kind of answer those questions, but that was only in the middle part.

Matthew Winters: I think there's a lot of. Professional [00:18:00] development out there right now, that that's kind of where it starts and stops is let's talk about what AI is. Let's talk about the fact that it's going to help students cheat. We took it the next step, which is how does this actually interact with some big, big name policy, things that are happening in the state of Utah and larger field, things like personalized learning or in Nicole's case talking about counseling and leadership.

Matthew Winters: And then as we got really deep into it, what does it actually look like in that funnel at the very bottom is, what does it look like in your classroom and how does that, how do we can actually apply this? And that's about, I want to toss it over to you because Val spent a lot of really good quality time digging into the background of like Integrating technology and kind of theory and then how to, how can we appropriately use AI with that theory as well?

Matthew Winters: So I'm sorry, I just, I'm putting you on the spot Val, but I think it was so interesting what you did there. Yeah, I 

Val O'Bryan: mean, as a team, we talked a lot about how we don't want teachers [00:19:00] to focus on being scared that students are going to use this to cheat on assignments. And we wanted them instead to see a broader picture and, and really ask themselves, what is it you want students to get out of this experience?

Val O'Bryan: And look at their assessment plans and look at the ways that they might want to utilize a I and help students. It's really create meaningful learning, so it was such a great opportunity for us to kind of as a kind of end point in the course to just circle back into what we've always talked about in education, you know, what do we want students to get out of this and how are we going to help them get there and we talk about in the course, moving more to a coaching model where you're having more frequent check ins with students and you're kind of feeding them The process.

Val O'Bryan: piece by piece, you know? And so they're working [00:20:00] through steps in smaller chunks instead of maybe a more traditional model where they hand in a very summative assessment, whether that's a test or like a final essay. And instead we broke things down more and thought about how we can hold students accountable for those pieces of the process, but also how we can use AI to facilitate those Points in the process, make them more meaningful for, to help students take them to deeper levels.

Val O'Bryan: How can we use coaching models? How can we teach the students how to prompt AI to be a coach? So it was really cool. I definitely don't have all the answers, but I loved what we were able to talk about as a team and kind of our hope for educators is. That this is going to be amazing. This is an amazing opportunity.

Val O'Bryan: We can do this and we can do it [00:21:00] really 

Georgia Terlaje: well. And I think that's important. Like what you're talking about. I mean, it sounds like kind of project based learning that we talk about in elementary school and I think it will help. So pivot because you know, I find sometimes some people get really caught in doing things the way they've always done it.

Georgia Terlaje: And after COVID, that doesn't work. And this is almost going to force people to really try things in that sort of project based learning model, rather than the stand and deliver, turn in a final essay. Which I think students today would find completely boring. I mean, this is going to be way, the engagement level I think is going to be through the roof if we harness this correctly.

Georgia Terlaje: Well, 

Matthew Winters: going off of that, Georgia, that's something we talked extensively about as a team and something I think about almost every single day is this idea of if you can, I, I, the, the, if you can, if a student, man, I'm gonna have to edit that out, man. Good job. There we go. I'm going to restart. All right. I am the editor, so I [00:22:00] can, I can do whatever I want.

Matthew Winters: No, AI.

Matthew Winters: Then it's a not necessarily good assessment. And so how can we harness the creativity and encourage the creativity that teachers have? We're an inherently creative profession. Like it's just part of our bones as a profession. And sometimes we forget that, that we're allowed to create, that we're allowed to harness that creativity and learn new things and do interesting things with our students.

Matthew Winters: And I think we forget that to the point of. We lose our way with it. We lose away with what we're doing in our class. And so harnessing our own creativity, then also harnessing our students as creativity and letting them do something that's different. It's not saying get rid of like the five paragraph essay or a traditional like researched paper in a college class, or even like a high school class, it's saying.

Matthew Winters: Maybe give some options, do something different, do a podcast [00:23:00] because that video, a podcast, those, those things can be just as well researched or even better researched. Maybe a student's really fallen into a rabbit hole there and those sorts of things are having a harder and harder time being created with AI.

Matthew Winters: Sure, you could start using them as a starting point or as like a coach. If, if you're looking for a great resource, I love Sal Khan's recent TED talk where he talks about using AI as a student fronted, front, fronted coach. I think that's a great idea for AI, but. In the classroom, we should be more allow our students to be more creative and allow ourselves more creative than the A.

Georgia Terlaje: I. Intends, you know, Jessica and I definitely kind of evangelize over that the creative projects because you find there's so much more synthesis going on than just kind of a straight ahead sort of assignment. So when you're talking about, like, Podcasts or creating a movie or all of those things. I think you get richer understanding of what your students understand than if they necessarily just hand in an essay that doesn't [00:24:00] necessarily have a lot of other creative elements going for it.

Jessica Pack: Where should teachers start exploring? What tools and resources might be good for beginners?

Val O'Bryan: Well, I don't know if I have brilliant advice for other people, but I started by using chat GPT and actually. Attempting to cheat on the prompts I use with my real students and just to see what could happen, to see what they could do with it.

Val O'Bryan: And really just diving in and testing it out like that helped me.

Val O'Bryan: I think it's you know, it's, you know, improving every day, so it's hard to stay on top of that, but I think that was the most powerful way for me to understand what this is all about, what is going on, how students might use it, and what the results might be in, in my classes. 

Georgia Terlaje: Nicole, what [00:25:00] do you think?

Georgia Terlaje: Yeah, 

Nicole Johnson: I think it's hard because my background is not as much as teaching as it is, yeah, counseling and advising. So I was like, how are teachers using this? Like, where do you start? Like, do I just Google, like, AI and education and get some, like, random list and start exploring? Like, I didn't know, you know, where to go.

Nicole Johnson: And I actually turned to a lot of, like, social media and just punched in tags for AI, education, and stuff like that to see, you know, What other teachers are doing what they're finding useful and trying to like reimagine how to use that and really I think kind of what I needed was a library of resources to kind of just start figuring out like What the heck even is this?

Nicole Johnson: Because when we first started talking about ai I feel like in november I'm 22 is when it really blew up and people were like, you know, what is this? I was definitely on that boat of what does this really look like? So I needed a lot of exposure to like a library of resources to see what people were doing.

Nicole Johnson: To see what would be most applicable to me. So I feel like that's the hard thing is you can't really tell somebody like this is the exact resource that you need to start with because [00:26:00] it looks so different in everybody's classroom and everybody's position and everybody's teaching style. So I feel like it's.

Nicole Johnson: It's, it's hard. You just need a lot of exposure. So, jumping on Matt's boat, you know, finding an AI course for educators is definitely a good route to go. 

Georgia Terlaje: Well, I also like your suggestion of hopping on social media with the tags. I think, I mean, I see great stuff. You know, on Twitter, people put all different grade levels of things that they're doing.

Georgia Terlaje: I think that's a great place to kind of steal and mine ideas. I think it's also important maybe to have a buddy or so you don't end up in a 12 step program down the rabbit hole of AI or, you know, mess up your families because I mean, you know You to help everyone. Right? 

Matthew Winters: Absolutely. And I, I love the buddy system.

Matthew Winters: And I would say, find somebody in on that social media that you, you can go to regularly. There's a couple of people that I follow. I love. What Eric Kurtz is talking about, about AI. I think his examples and the [00:27:00] bionic educator that he has on his website is fantastic. Obviously, like, you know, Matt Miller has some great things.

Matthew Winters: There's some really high quality educators out there doing some great work, but then also organizations. ISTE has a great Community platform for talking about AI. That's been there long before this discussion, you know, got hot this year. And so there's some really great resources out there. My favorite has been recently just going and finding the, there's some wonderful TED talks by some people.

Matthew Winters: They, they have some great sway to pull on these great computer scientists, these experts in the field, these people who are creating it. So I would just put a, I you know, bugging everyone's there, go check out the Ted talks from the last about six months and look for anything that's AI. There's some really good valuable information in there for both education and just kind of general understandings about how AI is functioning.

Matthew Winters: So any, 

Georgia Terlaje: Final thoughts before we wrap up any burning ideas that we haven't talked about? My [00:28:00] favorite thing is learning today. K to gray. Never heard that before. I'm always in, you know, K 12 So K to gray, TK to gray. I like it. I'm stealing it. I know, Matt, 

Nicole Johnson: this was Matt's creation, and I totally adopted it, so I have to give credit to, I don't know if it's his creation, but this is who I stole it from, 

Matthew Winters: so I will give the credit back to him.

Matthew Winters: Yeah, and I stole it so I don't know who they stole it from, but yeah, K to Grey, it's such a great term, I love that. I don't, Georgia, if anybody's out there listening, if you're interested, feel free to reach out to any of us. We're at UEN. org. We're hugely collaborative and we love to share resources with people.

Matthew Winters: So feel free to reach out. 

Georgia Terlaje: Okay. Well, this is Jessica's, this is our outro. Well, that wraps up this episode of the edge podcast. We hope you've been giving, doing it again. And this is Jessica. Well, that wraps up this episode of the edge pop. I'm not even drinking. Okay. One more time. This is Jessica. Well, that [00:29:00] wraps up this episode of the edge podcast.

Georgia Terlaje: We hope you've been given some food for thought on this AI journey. My name is Jessica pack and you can find me at pack woman, two Oh eight on Twitter and Instagram. And I'm Georgia Terlahi, and you can find me at Georgia Terlahi on Twitter, and you can find us both at StorytellingSavesTheWorld. com. 

Jessica Pack: Well, that wraps up this episode of the Edge Podcast. We hope you have been given some food for thought on this AI journey. My name is Jessica Pack, and you can find me at Packwoman208 on Twitter and Instagram. On behalf of everyone at ISTE's The Edge podcast, remember to keep exploring your passion, fostering your creativity, and taking risks.

Jessica Pack: All things that can bring you to the edge.