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  • Writer's pictureolivershearman

Teacher supporting AI: our new amazing artificial assistant

Is it better to be feared or respected?... I say, is it too much to ask for both?... The famous line from Iron Man began the MCU with a bang. Similarly with AI, at this point in time, the same question is relevant: is it better to be feared or respected? Well, AI is currently both.

It is feared by those who do not understand it, which to be fair is 99% and occasionally when it displays unexpected behavior…. 100% of people. It is feared by those who believe it will take or sideline their jobs and it is feared by those who are afraid of the new. It is feared for its inability to produce decent looking human eyes in artistic interpretations (at least in my experience so far)... See example images for what I mean here.

This one is based on a colleague of mine… a red head teacher in her mid 40s riding a unicorn over a rainbow of books.

This image was generated from the prompt: Alessandro Volta black and white outline for colouring activity

AI is also respected and loved. For those that can leverage this incredible tool, it could be a complete game changer. It means that work which would previously take a month can instead take a day of back and forth prompting with the right AI. It is loved and respected for its sometimes surprising outputs and for its ability to spew forth coherent and relevant information, text and seemingly creative outputs.

This image of Neil deGrasse Tyson is quite well done by Craiyon.

Or here is a poem I made ChatGPT make up about teaching and AI. In realms where knowledge intertwines with code,

A dance of learning, where minds are sowed,

Teaching and AI, hand in hand they stride,

Unveiling mysteries, side by side.

AI, the pupil of digital might,

Absorbs the lessons in pixelated light,

Guided by mentors of human grace,

Eagerly evolving at a rapid pace.

Lines of code, a language so arcane,

Yet AI learns swiftly, without a strain,

Through endless data streams it wades,

Extracting wisdom from the cascading glades.

Teachers, guardians of wisdom's old,

Embrace AI's presence, bold and gold,

Together they unravel intricate strands,

Mapping new pathways, with skillful hands.

But human touch, that spark of soul,

Still holds the power to make minds whole,

In classrooms where connections bloom,

Teaching and AI together consume.

As AI assists, with insights deep,

Teachers foster dreams, their promises keep,

A symphony of minds, a harmonious blend,

Teaching and AI, towards horizons they send.

So let us celebrate this grand alliance,

Where human and machine find compliance,

In the dance of learning, they entwine,

Teaching and AI, a future quite divine.

While perhaps a little simplistic, it does support those who are not the most creative and can help make a base concept we can work from or improve with further prompt improvement. For teachers who need both creativity and repetitive tasks done, this can and should be a huge boon to us. Supporting us in a myriad of ways. Giving us synonymisitc sentences for when we can't quite get the wording we want right (yes I know synonymisitc is not really a word, but I enjoy mincing words as needed due to my science roots and driving my colleague a little nuts).

So far I have been using ChatGPT to generate text when I need it and checking the content such as longer text questions to check student concepts. As a sparring partner for idea generation or to come up with previously unconsidered ways of tackling a problem. Even supporting me to come up with creative gift ideas for my partner.

Besides ChatGPT, we have artistic visual producing AI which can make truly madness inducing artworks. Yet sometimes they can absolutely nail what I am seeking without the need to worry about hunting down the right photo or image. Of course, this requires me to be able to explain what I am seeking well enough.

The two text-to-image generators that I have been enjoying lately are and The Craiyon AI is free to use and while it takes a while (about a minute to produce), yet it does consistently produce a set of 9 free to use images which is a boon for a teacher to pick the best and move along with their day. Nightcafe is great for more artistic endeavours and has a credit system which limits daily use. It is still a good option and can provide an alternative if you can’t get Craiyon to do what you want it to. Of course, I am not suggesting these are necessarily the best or only AI text-to-image generators out there, but these are the ones that I have been using myself recently.

Whatever your stance, it seems that AI is here to stay and likely evolve and improve in the coming years and decades before we reach true broad AI that is artificial sentience. For now, narrow AI will be an unbelievable tool that we have been offered and is coming to us in changing forms and platforms everyday. My advice would be to embrace the change and take a little more work off your plate and leave it to the non-sentient code when you can to bring the joy back to teaching and time back for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers and stay curious

Oliver - The Teaching Astrophysicist

(Note: Somewhat ironically, - this blog post was NOT generated by AI and is conceived, typed and uploaded by a real person. As are all of my blog posts)

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