A robot confused by math

ChatGPT made my daughter cry, and it was my fault

She’d just told me she’d started learning about the human nervous system for a class by Googling articles. I asked her a few questions about the topic, and then thought: Aha! Perfect opportunity to employ AI for learning!

I asked whether she’d like to build a prompt in ChatGPT that would help her learn what else to learn. She said she would. We asked the AI to determine her level of knowledge by asking questions, adjust based on her answers, and then give feedback on what else to study.

ChatGPT performed brilliantly: asking questions, evaluating answers, adjusting the difficulty when it became clear she didn’t know something, comforting her when she made mistakes (”That’s okay!”), celebrating correct answers (”Exactly!”), and finishing with spot-on advice about what to study next.

After which she broke into tears and left the room. 😥

As I have legs and ChatGPT does not (yet?), I followed to comfort her. Turns out she felt she’d failed at learning about the topic on her own since there were gaps in her understanding.

I was able to comfort her and turn the situation around. First I was able to learn why she was upset. Then I helped her see that she’d learned a lot in a short time. And from there I was able to reinforce ChatGPT’s advice on what to study next.

Same end-point, without the tears. 😅

With all the talk (mine included!) about the wonders of what Generative AI can do, it’s critical to also keep talking about what it CAN’T do as well as a human. In this case, that was… well, being human!

So why is this my fault? I failed to determine whether she was emotionally ready for an AI learning interaction! What I should have done was go further in the initial evaluation of her knowledge myself, and inserted the AI assist after I’d built up her confidence and openness to learn more. When you’re a novice learner, there’s a big difference between text on a screen saying it’s OK you don’t know something and hearing the same words from a human.

All of which is to say two things:

🎓 We’re ALL learning how to employ AI in education right now!
💡 Teachers: this is the time of AI opportunity!

Generative AI is going to quickly become an essential educational tool – perhaps as central as the calculator or the ruler – but it won’t substitute any time soon for the intuition of a great human teacher. In the coming AI age, the most successful educators will be the ones who know the tools AND know how to implement them in humanistic ways.

Do I have all the answers on how to do this? Absolutely not! But I love figuring out how to leverage AI and other tech tools with a human-centric approach. And I’d love to help you figure this out as well.

Please share YOUR experiences with AI learning and work, and I hope you’ll DM me if you’re interested in collaborating on AI or EdTech implementation!





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