AcademicsJan 17, 2023

updated Jan 25, 2024

AI in the Classroom

Grappling with Artificial Intelligence

How should learners align with artificial intelligence? What does generative AI, which can generate text, art, and other media, mean for reading, writing, creating, and thinking?

English Teacher Richard Scullin recently posed those central questions to students in Digital Worlds, Natural Worlds. The upper-level seminar explores humankind’s relationship to the digital world, and the growing embeddedness of technology in our lives, while also examining humankind’s relationship to and with nature.

Students dove into scholarly and mainstream articles, watched videos, and experimented with AI. They read AI-generated essays and tried audio AI that recorded their voices, then recreated their speaking almost any language — and amazingly well. In their work, students offered interesting takes — some raising questions of access and equity, others advocating a cautious approach, but curious to know more. Some suggest using AI as a tool, but retaining ownership of the creative process, while others asking if it is okay develop an idea, then let AI do the work, or to use AI to spark ideas?

“Generative AI is here. It’s available and tucked into Grammarly and all sorts of other places,” Mr. Scullin explains. “This assignment asked students to consider where AI aligns with or collides with their values. It’s something we need to grapple with, and, as a school, we can’t release into the world learners who haven’t thought about it and confronted it.”

Meghan Smith

About the Class

One of our Upper Level Seminars, Digital Worlds, Natural Worlds explores humankind in two contexts—digital and natural. The first semester poses questions concerning our relationship to the digital world and the growing embeddedness of technology in our lives. The second semester considers our relationship to and with Nature.

Our work considers valuable questions: Are we losing our memory in a flood of data? Why and how do we represent ourselves in different digital contexts? Is privacy gone forever? What is our relationship to Nature given the Anthropocene and our own massive impact on the planet? Can we possibly affect change?