Revolutions: Agriculture, Industrial then and now AI (Artificial Intelligence) Revolution

The last presentation during my EC&I 833 class was about Generative AI. The presenters’ content took the audience on a journey of mixed emotions. Some were dazed, others (like me) confused or scared and some were thrilled, others were inquisitive…. Woah…..what a subject!!

I have always found the name – “Faustian Bargain” so apt for the computer technology- so whether it is AI, WWW…..  You gain some and you lose some. Ideally I look at AI as transformative  and has the caliber to transport us into a “qualitatively different future”. Therefore the title- Agriculture, Industrial and then AI revolution.

How many of us can imagine living in a world without AI- how comfortable would it be to survive without Siri waking you up, the GPS system and maps helping navigate, the smart software and apps that are favs in the workplace or finding the best tickets for travel, ordering food, grocery, or for that matter shopping online? If we narrow down to education: it’s a whirlwind of AI in education? how many of us could have imagined the kind of learning platform that exist now; adjusting the lessons personally for every one!! That’s what DreamBox and Knewton are doing. They use AI to tweak learning materials in real-time, making sure each student gets the most out of their lessons. In my EC & I sessions my class mates introduced me to some outstanding educational tools like like Socrative, Mentimeter, Padlet, Quizlet, Kahoot etc  that make assessment and student engagement effortless. Thus making the learning process more engaging, personalized and interactive. They give detailed feedback, letting teachers focus more on teaching and less on grading. So, AI isn’t just a buzzword; it surely has worthwhile substance and has made education more personalized, efficient, and interactive. How cool is that?

AI has entered everyone’s life; so be it; student, elders, professionals( all professions that you can think of) at all levels, industry etc: it looks difficult to subtract AI out of the whole system. However, the damage can also be potentially great. The systems can be corrupted, it can be trained to affect the physical, mental, emotional security at any level. The video that was shared in one of our classes on AI also mentioned Elon Musk calling it “Catastrophic” and worldwide people talking about regulating it so that it does not become a Faustian bargain.

Very recently I saw a bolly wood movie and here is the clip where the main character is a Robot and it is disturbing to see and imagine: if something like this will ever happen in the future.:

https://www.youtube.com/clip/UgkxLNiUs7TDM7M6YqK1jf90WDuu-3O_GUwp

It is disturbing to see and imagine: if something like this will ever happen in the future.

One famous quote on AI is by Stephen Hawking, a renowned theoretical physicist:

“Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.” – Stephen Hawking

EC&I 833 – Summary of Learning – Trivia

Well, I hope everyone likes trivia!

And, I hope everyone has studied the concepts and theories of ECI 833 in depth.

We are about to embark on a rollercoaster of emotion that starts with testing your knowledge on the foundations and history of Educational Technology.

Look no further, and watch the video below to test your abilities and achievements in this course.

Please let me know how you faired in the comments below.

Thanks for your time, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Also, the video of my face somehow was quite small when it was uploaded to YouTube, but feel free to check out the link here for a more full-sized video.

EC&I 833 – Summary of Learning – Trivia

Well, I hope everyone likes trivia!

And, I hope everyone has studied the concepts and theories of ECI 833 in depth.

We are about to embark on a rollercoaster of emotion that starts with testing your knowledge on the foundations and history of Educational Technology.

Look no further, and watch the video below to test your abilities and achievements in this course.

Please let me know how you faired in the comments below.

Thanks for your time, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Also, the video of my face somehow was quite small when it was uploaded to YouTube, but feel free to check out the link here for a more full-sized video.

ECI 833 – AI

When I think of Artificial Intelligence, I am instantly transported to a Galaxy Cinema as an 11-year-old circa 2004 for the release of “I, Robot“, starring Will Smith. The movie delved into the concept of robots overtaking humans to conquer the world. This movie was slightly terrifying as a youngster, and even more so as an adult reflecting on AI this week.

And yes, the robots were very intense!

However, Generative AI does not have the same design or look as the robots in the movie above, but their process is very similar. AI can be more simply understood as “…the ability of machines or computer systems to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence”. Well, this does not sound too bad as it can be efficient to allow a computer or program to do tasks faster than a human can. Further, another train of thought vocalizes the dangers of allowing computers/programs to make decisions that need human intelligence, where we draw the line, and who is allowed to draw those lines. There are ethical concerns about the utilization of AI and the various frameworks for how it is being implemented in fields such as healthcare, criminal justice, and even finance. These are all valid questions, and no easy answers exist. Although, I do think that as teachers it is our job to find ways to innovate and adapt our instruction to best meet the needs of our students. And, I am cognizant that there are teachers who think it is valuable for educators to model ethical practices. So, it is important to try and remain neutral as more laws and ethics are developed around it.

I really liked Cailen’s video she posted on her blog this week from TedEd that examines the future of AI and how it will change the world that we know currently. I do think it is important to reflect on these new programs like AI to make our jobs easier rather than fear the impact it could have on the way things have been done in the past. I would recommend watching the video below to further explain how AI learns and evolves because this will aid in reducing the fear and misunderstanding of these programs.

Therefore, as much as AI is a polarizing buzzword among people at this present moment, it is still a program/machine that allows for the efficiency of tasks. I think that we as educators should be thrilled to find a program that offers this, but before we start celebrating, we must first really learn how each of these programs functions to maximize its learning capabilities. I think of the analogy of how someone who has taught a certain subject before offers you all their content and assessment material, but it is you who brings that course to life by how you present it, but not strictly the binder that you were handed to teach the course. Thus, it is so critical that teachers learn how different AI programs function to better allow students to learn and synthesize information, but this will mean that educators will need to change how assessments will look and feel in the classroom. This is a tough change for some subjects in particular, and it is difficult to feel at peace with how we as educators are preparing students for a future that is so ever-changing. It can be an overwhelming feeling to think if we are truly making a difference in students’ educational journey by how we prepare them for the future, but for me, it goes far beyond the content or process of outcome attainment. For me, my role as an educator focuses on the connections and relationships with students that foster a curiosity to ask questions and then learn where to seek answers. AI is one of the tools that can aid in this process.

Ps, if you would like to watch the movie “I, Robot”, I would give it a solid 8/10. The robots are quite creepy at times, so be prepared for that!

Thanks for your time! And let me know how AI has changed or has not changed your classroom.

Innovation means time and money – Coding & Maker Spaces

Once I started diving into this topic it wasn’t as scary as I thought. It is honestly a lot of what I already know and have tried a bit in my own way with in the restrictions of our curriculum, time, money and space. My prior knowledge among coding was minimal; I always thought coding was extremely complex process which gave instructions for a program, apps, or computer to process. I also thought it was only for people who had training or schooling due to its complexity.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It turns out like many aspects of learning new things there are simpler easier ways to start coding. It does not need to start or look like the image above. The program we were shown in class was Scratch Jr  and I can see the benefits of teaching coding. Students could create stories or timelines on many topics.  It lets students create, problem solve, and infer. This would help them with attention to detail, and particularity by having to break things down into steps. It is all very high levels of thinking according to Bloom’s taxonomy which is very beneficial for our students. It definitely falls under the high level of the cognitive learning theory and fits the constructivist learning theory as well.

I just did a project in science where they had to analyze history of atomic theory by creating a timeline of models and changes throughout history. Coding could be a great way to order and differentiate between scientists findings through creating a story of some sort. This hits the outcome at an even higher level for enhancing student learning.

When I saw the word Makerspaces, I was even more in the dark,  I had never heard of this. What I have learned is it is a place where people come together to solve a problem. In an educational setting it would be giving a group of students materials, time and space necessary to create something, or come up with ideas to solve a problem.

Makerspaces also fall under the constructivist theory and has many benefits. It gives students freedoms and choice with in the outcome. It supports in collaboration, problem solving and perseverance. The really important one is that attitude of making mistakes is valuable, and when things don’t go right to try again in a new way. This is a wonderful life skill as nothing will go great the first time. It fosters life long learning and resilience.

These skills I have been talking about is extremely important when it come to complex topics in the world of math and science. According to Let’s talk science students are losing interest in the science and math. Over half don’t graduate with a senior level math or science. Also only 12% of graduating students take physics.

Hence, students need to be inspired in these courses. We need to be given the time and money to get tools and tech to allow students to problem solve in interesting ways. Especially in math, it has been pencil and paper and drill and practice for so long. Our math courses are so jam packed not only do we have barely enough time to just traditionally teach the outcome, let alone get them explore it and play. The other problem is when trying to do the outcome at a higher level, kids need basic skills and they are not coming to high school with those solid skills. There is a lot of reteaching to get the basics hence we don’t have enough time for creation and innovation a lot of the time. There needs to be some change in our curricula for this to happen.

Sometimes the issue with doing something that is a higher order of thinking than the outcome is asking for, is students are working so hard to create that sometimes they completely miss the mark in the analyzation of the content that was asked for. I have seen this many times when I try something cool that my weaker students get left behind. Is it great for those students to try these things, yes, but sometimes it can be very overwhelming and they aren’t successful. This is when differentiating the assessment would be and encouraging your excelling students to try these innovative projects. On the contrary, when students realize one way will be more “work” than others assessments it is hard to inspire them to dive in. Maybe maker spaces should be more for non-curricular clubs to avoid this problem. But then the government needs to give more funding to education. Hard enough to get funding for curricular items, I can’t imagine trying to get more money for makerspaces!

Even though there are issues around materials, money, motivation and time in some areas, I think education is moving towards finding ways to help our students be innovative and solve problems. Central Collegiate in Moose Jaw where I work is doing some great things! We have innovation club at our school which work with drones, the 3D printer and create computer games and much more that I don’t even know about. We have coding and drafting classes which all involve collaboration and creation. In science we are giving students materials and building anything from houses to protect objects, terrariums to roller coasters. It is happening but we just need to push for more time, and more money to give our students the best education possible.

ECI 833 – Coding and Makerspaces

I like to think that I am quite tech-savvy and have been known to be the “Go To” for anything related to MySchoolSask, but when it comes to coding, I feel like a complete novice. I am familiar with coding and conceptually I understand what it is, but to make it happen is a complete mystery to me. It was nice this week to check out different programs that teach elementary coding like Scratch as an opportunity for students to learn at a young age how this process occurs. I found it helpful to read more about coding in the classroom through the following website which provides a thorough guide for teachers to learn how to incorporate coding in their classroom. I think to fully integrate coding into the classroom, it would be important for educators themselves to deeply understand how it works, its applications, and why it would be necessary for students to learn.

However, I would like to spend more of my post exploring Makerspaces. Makerspaces focuses on the fundamental processes of building, constructing, deconstructing, and learning exchanges during these moments. It can involve the newest and brightest technology or the most primitive tools to explore and play. Personally, I love it when I have time to get into a woodworking project that involves all different types of tools and processes that I have limited experience with. This has served me well, and poorly in many various occasions, but it has been a great learning experience for me each time. So, I love the concept of allowing students to explore, and play with various types of materials and tools. Here is a video below that provides a thorough explanation of what this process could look like.

One of the trickier parts of this process requires finding the space, and equipment to set up this style of learning for students. It can seem daunting to start this process in your school if there is no program that is offered for students, but I stumbled upon this blog that offers great insight into how this transition could start in a school that can have a big impact. As well, on the Makerspaces website, they even craft a step-by-step process to how this concept could be applied to each individual context. This step-by-step process is quite intensive, but it does provide a framework for how this could work and operate within a school, or a community-based organization. And, after reading more on the topic, it feels it would be a great way to blend community resources and school-based projects all in one to maximize the impact of this program.

As a Math teacher, I took a class at university that focused on the major contributions of mathematicians over the course of history. Sir Issac Newton was one of the prominent figures in this elite list, and it was very interesting to learn more about his life and upbringing. Newton, from an early age, was known for taking things apart and building them back together. His approach was quite pragmatic in design, but offered great insight into how things function by inversing steps, ultimately to move in a full cycle. Many scholars have praised this problem-solving approach to the many inventions and discoveries that Newton made over his lifetime, and a few of those discoveries include modern calculus, laws of gravity, and fundamental laws of motion. So, these seem like pretty small impacts on the grand scale of mathematical contributions.

Newton had a keen interest in the practical side of constructing objects, and this process could be argued as a catalyst for his inventions and contributions to the math world. He did not inherently exude greatness or innovations in his educational journey, but his pragmatic approach to solving problems created countless opportunities to deepen his learning.

Makerspaces is a prime example of offering space and materials for students to develop their inner genius. And I believe that Newton would be a primary advocate for these programs to foster this innate ability that he developed over many years of tinkering and deep thought in these environments. Therefore, it would be really intriguing to see how schools and community organizations could unite to provide these rich learning environments for students to explore the inner workings of what could birth the next Sir Isaac Newton. In the worst-case scenario, students develop practical skills and self-confidence that could create numerous opportunities in their future.

Please let me know how you think Makerspaces could impact an educational setting, or if you have been directly involved with one.

Thanks!

Makerspaces!

Makerspaces are not a new concept to me. However, I have never tried to implement this in my own teaching practice. I have watched from afar as other teachers in my school have successfully used Makerspaces and was jealous of the creativity and imagination that came from the students! The idea of pulling together all of the supplies, resources and storing it was intimidating to me. Looking back, this was a mistake.

This article outlines the benefits of having a makerspace, such as hands-on learning, problem solving, and collaboration and an opportunity for students to try new things in a risk free environment. Many students have a fear of failure in the classroom; however, in a makerspace, students feel that they can try in a trial & error fashion. 

In makerspaces, students have shown to be able to benefit from improved self regulation and reflection. As they are building and problem solving, they are able to look objectively at the problem and try several different strategies for success. Makerspaces boost motivation for students to continue, and help to develop a growth mindset.

I think that all students could benefit from makerspaces the same way that all students benefit from math. Problem solving and logical reasoning is applied. This helps our brain to continue to think in this way, “rewiring” ourselves. Makerspaces clearly enhance learning, keep students engaged and motivated, fostering the desire to learn. During the presentation, it was mentioned that the University of Regina had a Makerspace under the Riddell Center! As a student of the U of R for MANY years, this was brand new information to me! I am very curious and would like to visit this. 

Creativity at it’s best – in my limited thought though :)

Last week’s classroom presentation in my EC&I 833 course was on coding and makerspaces, and let me tell you, I was expecting it to be a boring session because I have never been much interested in Coding and makerspace wasn’t a very familiar term for me. And guess what- it left me curious !!

So, what’s the buzz about coding? Well, I realized that my thoughts were Null and Void and that coding isn’t just for the tech gurus or future computer scientists; it’s a tool that can help all students develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and perseverance. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how coding can be integrated into everyday learning, making complex concepts come to life in a fun and interactive way. The interesting examples in the class presentation were Ozobots. I found out that these tiny robots help students develop an IQ for coding by using colored pens to develop logical and sequential set of commands to create storylines that the Ozobots would act out through movement. It sounded like a hands-on way for students to see the real-world applications of coding.

And then: I was bowled over by makerspaces. Makerspaces have become a hot topic in education. While not a new concept, makerspaces are gaining traction for the many benefits they provide students as these spaces are integrated into classrooms and schools. Designed to challenge students to create and learn through hands-on, personalized experiences throughout elementary, middle, and high school, here are a few of the many benefits of makerspaces: In recent years, makerspaces have become increasingly popular worldwide, thanks to the rise of the maker movement. The recommended reading from the session (The role of makerspaces in innovation processes: an exploratory study) was really interesting and educated me too. This movement began with the whole DIY and Hacks culture and has made digital fabrication tools accessible to a wide range of people. Makerspaces, also known as Fablabs or hackerspaces, are physical places where people can access shared tools like 3D printers, laser cutters, woodworking and metalworking tools, and microcontrollers. Those who use these spaces are called makers.

It is a culture of collaboration, curiosity, experimenting and learning through trial and error. I feel the result of all this has to be some form of learning, some outcome and sometimes an invention that can revolutionize the world, make it better, happier in some way. Additionally It also teaches some values like: taking failure in stride: In experimentation, testing, evaluating, and modifying are part of the process. Participants learn how to make failure into a learning experience and not become discouraged or frustrated when something doesn’t go as planned.

https://www.vanderbilt.edu/thewondry/makerspaces/makerspaces-collage-presentation-169/

This University’s website and illustrations were very attractive and interesting to me. It reflects that in Makerspaces People have showcased their creativity and capabilities by developing innovative products, such as the first consumer 3D printer and smartphone-based payment devices. Notably, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, makers stepped up to address the urgent need for medical supplies

To me one of the most fascinating tools in our makerspace is the 3D printer. Did you know that 3D printers have been used to create prosthetic limbs, build houses, and even print food? It’s incredible to think about the possibilities that this technology opens up for students! In fact, NASA has used 3D printers to create tools and parts in space, revolutionizing how astronauts can repair and maintain equipment during missions.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Some challenges like limited time, resources, and the fear of not being an expert in coding, society pressure in different forms etc will always be there. But here’s the thing I’ve learned after knowing Coding; makespaces: I don’t have to know it all. It’s okay to lean on resources and collaborate with students to navigate the world of coding and makerspaces.

And lastly I must share one video on makerspace that was so interesting

Reference

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/radm.12594

ECI 833 – Assistive Technology

I have had a varying experience with assistance technology, both in the classroom and in my personal life. In a work setting, when we switched to online learning, I found it very challenging to find an effective way to present the math content to students in an online format. The access to online technology for students was so wavering, so it made it difficult to really find a plan and method to reach students in an online format. There was a deep level of conviction of wanting students to continue to learn the outcomes, be prepared for next year, and generally wanting the best for them, but for the first few days after the announcement was made, I was stuck trying to find a solution.

I knew that I wanted to offer some video format of my lesson, but a live Zoom version of this does not seem appealing. I wished I had had a laptop that was a touch screen capable of using a drawing pen, and then I was introduced to a drawing padlet. This tool is traditionally used for graphic design as a method to color and sketch logos/graphic art, but I had not thought of using it for a math lesson. And it worked perfectly!! I like to use the Smart Notebook program, and it worked great for screen recording, and then I could use the drawing pad to show my calculations and steps as I communicated how to work through different mathematical questions. Please, believe me, this new process of demonstrating a math lesson was a tricky task to learn. I had to watch the screen as I would blindly record the math and notes below on the drawing pad without looking at it. And that was difficult! My cursive is often confused with that of a primary student, so trying to now learn this new skill with some seriously lacking abilities in my fine motor skills. Maybe that would be one of my comments about assistance technologies is that there is a level of proficiency that must be attained to demonstrate effective use of these tools/programs to aid in student learning.

https://wcm-cdn.wacom.com/-/media/images/discover-2020/discover/wacom-pen-tablets-v2-tf.jpg?h=560&iar=0&w=920&rev=b58676476a724f818c407e5380344e40&hash=EE5B3A364E575F0EF02DBACE92C92920

This article expands on the notion that the level of proficiency of teachers’ application of assistive technology has a major influence on the impact on students. I was lucky that I had ample time during COVID-19 to learn the craft of this assistance technology and perfected it through recording numerous videos and perhaps endless time. I did get sick of my own voice after I had recorded 3 hours of videos a day, 5 days a week for approximately 12 weeks.

However, my drawing pad allowed me to transfer the simple tool of writing and constructing words and numbers into a sequence that allowed for students to follow along as if they were in class. Students would watch the videos at their own leisure instead of a live Zoom session, and I felt that allowed for variable schedules and timelines to optimize learning opportunities. I felt that this assistive technology allowed for learning to continue, maybe not at the same rate, but offering new potential for growth and challenges all in one.

In this short experience of a specific assistive technology, I learned the importance of replicating an authentic and familiar way that students learn. I realized how valuable it was to master the tool I was using to deepen the impact it could have on student learning. It became clear to me to examine the missing gaps for students during this time and try to provide an assistive technology that diminishes the effect of these missing links and sometimes can bridge a solution. The tricky part in my limited experience with assistance technology arises from identifying the specific learning gaps and how a tool might be able to meet these needs. Then, it seems it would be challenging to now find the appropriate tools that effectively meet these learning needs. This process can be time-consuming and exhausting for the teacher. And, it often feels like there is never a perfect solution to this challenging dilemma, so sometimes this cycle goes on for too long.

However, there is hope with the power of collaboration with colleagues and professional development opportunities to reduce the sheer impact of this process only falling on yourself to tackle.

Please let me know what assistance tools you have used in your schools, and how this process has gone for you.

Thanks!

Inclusive Learning with Assistive Technology

My only tryst with Assistive technology has been Siri, Assistive touch or text- to -speech. My first profound moment was in my Edtech class where a group of students presented on Assistive technology but I was humbled and touched when I saw the video shared by one of my classmates:

Assistive Technology: Enabling Dreams – From voice-activated software to customized laptops, tech is changing the way disabled students communicate, learn, and play.

Technology to me has always represented itself as a – Faustian Bargain however when I look at assistive technology; it looks like a blessing to many people who are differently abled. People who could showcase their capabilities to the world despite the challenges they faced. It reminds me of one of my client whose daughter ( I will call her Sarah) had some learning disability and when I today recall the instances when she hated studying(in a traditional school), preferred doing everything her way; my heart goes out to her and I wish someone introduced her to the assistive technology which could have made learning a matter of joy and ease.  Like many students, Sarah faced challenges in keeping up with traditional instruction methods.

The video sheds light on the transformative power of assistive technology in addressing many challenges that may prevent many learners to do what they love doing. It emphasized the importance of understanding students’ experiences with assistive technology and the obstacles they face. Many students, like those featured in the video, shared their struggles with traditional learning methods and highlighted the profound impact that assistive technology has had on their academic success. The case of Lukas who loved playing euphonium horn is truly inspirational for many. Lukas courage, passion and will plus the technology helped him become a part of the Jazz band and a full fledged musician. Like wise all achievements of Sarah, Vishal were partly because of assistive technology. The video was personally very informative for me and emphasized how incorporating assistive technology into various instructional formats – whether face-to-face, blended, or online can be life changing for students. By doing so, educators can ensure that content is accessible to all students, regardless of their learning styles or abilities.

Having seen and read content on Assistive technology I feel there are many myths about assistive technology for learning. The first myth is assistive technology is for students with special needs. It is actually a way to enhance the quality of learning
The second myth is about cost of assistive technology that it is expensive and countries with low resources cannot afford them. Some gadgets or technology may be unaffordable but an empathetic and intelligent teacher would always make its way

The third myth is that assistive technology is highly advanced technology. But in reality assistive technology is an application of basic engineering technology for learning. The euphonium horn of Lukas is an example of that.

https://www.augsburg.edu/class/groves/assistive-technology/everyone/

I was introduced to Immersive Reader and C Pen in one of our classes and they were showcased as invaluable resources in supporting students with dyslexia and other learning differences. Immersive Reader facilitates more effective engagement with text by providing features like text-to-speech and customizable font settings. Meanwhile, CPen allows students to access printed material independently, promoting autonomy and confidence in their learning.

As an educator, I today decide, I will also use Assistive technology as a tool to make education/knowledge inclusive for all and try and create for them; an opportunity to succeed.