This is the story of how a glitch with creating Scratch accounts for my students meant I had to quickly change my plans for my first week with my Year 7 classes and how that has now created a great lesson in coding principles and ethics.
I usually use the first few weeks of the year to introduce some of the basics of Scratch, Makey Makey and micro:bits to my Year 7 classes. Making up a lesson on the spot is not how I usually do things. I found myself having to do this after some problems with creating accounts in Scratch for my new Year 7 students.
Having to quickly think on my feet, I decided to revive a lesson I have done in the past. I used the Coding Unplugged lesson to introduce the concept of how an algorithm or set of instructions can be used to give instructions to computers that need to be clear and unambiguous. The lesson involves getting my students to think of some commands to guide a ‘robot’ around a maze. I got the class to divide themselves into groups of three or four. The groups then had to devise a set of instructions using sounds only for moving forward, backward, left, right, and stop. The criteria is the command has to be a sound and cannot be a word.
Once the code is devised, I give the groups a few minutes to practise their instructions before I ask for each group to select one person to be the ‘robot’ and another to be the ‘programmer’. I then asked for four groups to ‘run their code’ at a time. The teams then find out that the ‘robots’ receiving the instructions will be blindfolded. One blindfolded, everyone else will quietly rearrange the tables and chairs to create the maze. This is done for every group in the class. It is important for everyone to be quiet so that the ‘robots’ can hear their commands.
There is a great opportunity for the class to discuss the issues that came out of the lesson such as:
I introduced the concept of GIGO - 'Garbage In, Garbage Out' to the students which is all about the quality of what is input into a computer has a direct correlation to the quality of the output. This discussion naturally led to having to be accurate when giving instructions or when searching for information via search engines.
I then used this to introduce the Artificial Intelligence tool ChatGPT. My first use was to test if ChatGPT knew who I was as a person. This trial was so I could demonstrate to my students how 'intelligent' this ‘smart’ technology is. Is this a tall order? Well, here is an example of how an AI tool really doesn't know everything…
(The words in bold are what I felt was innacurate.)
Write an introduction that can be published on a website designed for Malcolm Clarke who is a digital technologies specialist in Auckland
Welcome to the website of Malcolm Clarke, a highly experienced digital technologies specialist based in Auckland, New Zealand. With over a decade of experience in the field, Malcolm has a deep understanding of the latest technologies and how they can be utilised to help businesses and organisations achieve their goals.
Malcolm's expertise ranges from software development and web design to digital marketing and cybersecurity. He has worked with a diverse range of clients, from small startups to large multinational corporations, and has a proven track record of delivering innovative solutions that drive business growth and success.
At the heart of Malcolm's approach is a deep commitment to customer satisfaction. He takes the time to understand each client's unique needs and goals, and works closely with them to develop customised solutions that meet their specific requirements.
Whether you are looking to build a new website, improve your digital marketing strategy, or enhance your cybersecurity measures, Malcolm has the skills and experience to help. So if you're looking for a digital technologies specialist in Auckland who can help take your business to the next level, look no further than Malcolm Clarke.
So far, this first attempt has established that I am not a known entity to Chat GPT. In my attempt to correct this, I then amended my instructions with some new criteria.
(Again, the words in bold are not accurate.)
Adapt this explanation for an educational setting as Malcolm is a digital technologies specialist teacher
Welcome to the page of Malcolm Clarke, a highly experienced digital technologies specialist teacher. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Malcolm has a passion for helping students understand the latest technologies and how they can be utilised to create innovative solutions.
Malcolm's expertise ranges from software development and web design to digital marketing and cybersecurity. He has worked with students of all ages, from primary school to tertiary education, and has a proven track record of delivering engaging lessons that develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
At the heart of Malcolm's teaching approach is a deep commitment to student success. He takes the time to understand each student's unique needs and learning style, and works closely with them to develop customised learning experiences that are both challenging and rewarding.
Whether you are a student looking to learn the basics of coding or a teacher looking to enhance your digital technologies curriculum, Malcolm has the skills and experience to help. So if you're looking for a digital technologies specialist teacher in Auckland who can help take your digital skills to the next level, look no further than Malcolm Clarke.
The second version was a bit better, but I’m still not one hundred percent happy with the results. Finally, I asked for a rewrite to clarify what I do in my job.
Malcolm does not develop software, or do web design, digital marketing or cybersecurity. He teaches students who are 11-13 years old. This needs a rewrite
Welcome to the page of Malcolm Clarke, a highly experienced digital technologies specialist teacher based in Auckland, New Zealand. Malcolm is passionate about equipping his 11-13 year old students with the essential skills they need to navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape.
Malcolm's teaching focuses on fundamental concepts in digital technologies such as computer programming, basic web design, and internet safety. He has a proven track record of developing engaging lesson plans that challenge his students to think critically, collaborate and problem-solve.
At the heart of Malcolm's teaching philosophy is his deep commitment to student success. He recognizes that every student learns differently and takes the time to understand each of his students' unique needs, learning styles, and interests to tailor his lessons accordingly.
Whether you are a student interested in coding, a parent looking to supplement your child's digital education, or a school seeking to enhance your digital technologies curriculum, Malcolm has the skills and experience to help. With his wealth of experience in teaching young students, Malcolm is the ideal digital technologies specialist teacher to equip your child with the digital skills they need for the future.
As you can see, this version is the most improved and ‘accurate’ portrayal. However, it is clear that ChatGPT is currently very generic in its responses. As demonstrated from its first attempt, my students and I now know ChatGPT has no idea who I am as a person. I have no reason to fear this new tool despite the fact that the information generated is obviously not me. It is the key words entered into the chatbot that has generated an adequate but generic response. I for one won't be using it to write anything serious at this time. Arguably, ChatGPT is not going to take over the world of teacher replacement. Maybe subsequent versions will go towards that. Teaching and education still needs to have a 'human element' attached to it.
So, what now? Artificial Intellegence is not going anywhere any time soon. So before those that are not in education or in teaching take control of the narrative, it is important for those within education and teaching to change the narrative and embrace this type of AI as best as we can. I would like to believe that we can use AI within an educational setting as a tool to assist. For example, it could potentially be used with those that have learning issues or with those that English is a second language. We need to look to use these tools to help students to achieve within the classroom. Keeping the human element in the loop ensures that the end result is not generic or sterile. AI is probably going to be the new alternative to the traditional search engine such as Google. The negativity surrounding ChatGPT such as ‘its allowing students to cheat in exams’ could be, in my opinion, just a flash in the pan.
In regards to solving my Scratch account issues and after a few attempts to contact Scratch HQ, it turned out that there was a change in their filtering policy designed to protect young learners. The rule change meant I could not use the word ‘kowhai’ as part of a student username as it is an identifying word for my school. I also discovered ‘kis’ is an alternative spelling of ‘kiss’ and was getting flagged as a variation of another unpleasant phrase which they cannot take out of the filter. It also turns out any word ending in ‘ar’ next to the number 23 (for 2023) provides an alternative spelling to another banned word, of which the circumstances are unique to 2023 and thinking about it, also possibly 2025! Scratch HQ were happy to delete the ‘ar’ rule as they informed me that is something they don't really need in the username filter since it seems to return more false positives than actual bad usernames.
All in all, this ended up being a great lesson in coding principles, ethics and user experience. It is also a fun way to make lemonade when your school day deals you a lemon…
Posted: Thursday 23 February 2023