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Three Critical Elements To Successful AI In the Classroom

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

I've thought a lot about how students can game the system using AI, as well as how those with better intentions might not get the learning I'd hope they would. I think I've come up with some ways to combat this that are really important to successful student use of AI. They are: Students have to provide screenshots of all of their inputs (prompts) and outputs (text, picture, presentation, etc). They cannot provide text or something they can manipulate in any way. I have to be able to see exactly what they asked the AI to do. A tiny benefit to them is this takes less time; simply snap some screenshots and done. Students have to do the same thing with the outputs and results of these prompts by showing them in the form of screenshots as well. These two elements are easy for them to do. The third element is more nuanced and takes additional teaching effort as well as student practice. This is based on my belief that students must present their understanding and knowledge that the outputs produce in their own words. Doing so in their own words means they are sharing this in somewhat of a teaching capacity. In order to present well, they need to know what the progression of their prompts and asks mean, what the AI found or did for them, then understand those things, and understand them well enough to share without notes or long sentences to rely on. As is well known, teaching something is one of the highest forms of learning mastery. This process is meant to help them have a stronger grip on what it is I am trying to help them learn about. And so, this is where my method for doing presentations in all of my classes (with or without AI mentions) comes in. I've taught and required this presentation format for over a decade. I believe it is absolutely, unequivocally, the best way to present almost any material. While I give it a name, I certainly didn't come up with this. It's a combination of many different presentation methods. Anyhow, I call it "Alex's Five Immutable Laws of PowerPoint Presentations" and I am very picky about this being followed exactly as outlined. Here is that outline. I hope all of this is helpful detail into what I think are really important pieces for using AI properly as a learning tool. ******************************************** Students, In no particular order, my requirements for your PowerPoint submissions are:


1 - Bullet points only. No paragraphs. No more than three sentences, but preferably one or two ... and not even full sentences if you can. It's a bullet point and you are to speak to and about it. If you aren't presenting this live, please use a voice recording or voice over tool so I can hear what you have to say as the bullet point appears. You are welcome to record video with a screen share as well if you prefer. I just need to hear you explain things to me since the bullet point is meant to be very brief.


2 - The font should be larger as well so it is super easy to read and takes up space. Again, these are very brief notes, not a crutch to read and rely on. A 24 point font is a good size to start with but you may need to go a bit bigger or smaller depending on your wording and text length.


3 - Each bullet point must appear one at a time. No fancy animations, whoosh sounds or anything like that; just a click of the spacebar and another bullet appears. Why? Because if your slide has all of your points on it, they are reading those points and not listening or paying attention to you! This means each slide has a headline at the top and then it is blank. You click and your first bullet point appears and you speak about it. Then you click again and your second bullet point appears to speak about and so on.


4 - Please use a nice looking template. This means it's not plain, but also that it isn't overly designed or too busy. Some white space and a little bit of color. I know that is somewhat vague and that is okay. I just want to you to get in the habit of making your presentations looking nice and professional but I still want you to choose a style that fits your taste.


5 - Use images when you can! Some of the best slides have an image and very few bullet points. Sometimes if it is the right image, no bullet points at all. You can even use AI to create images for you! If there is no text, your audience will be immersed in listening to you talk about the image and will be dialed into your message. Do not overdo it though; too many images can have them start to tune out. It needs to be one dropped in here or there to keep things interesting. A specific example would be on a ten slide PPT, maybe two of them are image only. It's great though if every slide has a solid image along with the bullet points, but again, pick good images and don't force it. You have to be presenting live or on video for this to work obviously. If you are turning in something that will only be read, you'll always need bullet points to explain the image. Also, if you have a bunch of text you want to share that you didn't write (say a screenshot of a Chat GPT outcome), you should screenshot that and show it as an image. You don't want to have to bullet point and explain all of that text. You don't want to read it to them, either. A screenshot allows them to breeze over it and not tune you out.

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