The past 12 months have been some of the most interesting in edtech, to say the least. The biggest story of the year obviously was impact of generative AI on technology, teaching, and learning, although there were plenty of other critical edtech subjects and events throughout 2023.
Before going on to 2024, we wanted to take a brief look back at the year that was in regard to AI in education as well as share a few of our other most-viewed news stories, how-to articles, and edtech features.
Enjoy and be sure to keep up with us as we keep up with everything in the year ahead!
Tech & Learning 2023 Year in Review: Top News Articles
Sal Khan, online pioneer and founder of Khan Academy, believes the impact of AI technologies such as ChatGPT will be greater in education and beyond than the advent of search engines or smartphones. “It is a new epoch and it is the most epoch of the epochs, I really believe, and I wouldn’t have said that six months ago or a year ago,” Khan says. “This is a moment we’re in. I don’t think this is hype. And education is really at the center of this hurricane. It’s the first field that is getting a shock.”
William Quarterman, a senior at the University of California, Davis, was accused of using AI to cheat on a take-home exam even though he had never used ChatGPT. His graduation status was in jeopardy and he had no idea how to prove that a mistake had been made. “It was a very traumatic experience because it’s one of those few situations where you’re sitting there and you have no control of the situation whatsoever,” he says.
President Biden’s recent executive order around AI isn’t designed to address the gaps in school AI policies, nor do we want elected officials dictating education policy. However, it does draw attention to both the opportunities for AI in schools and some of the challenges and concerns around it.
New research has found that students who take notes outperform students who photograph slides during an online lecture. “We consistently found that note-takers remembered more information from the lectures than photo-takers or no-note-takers,” says Dr. Sarah Shi Hui Wong, an instructor at the National University of Singapore, and the lead author of the paper. “In fact, photo-takers performed just as poorly on the test as their peers who didn’t take any notes at all.”
According to a recent Intelligent.com survey, 10% of high school and college students said they studied with ChatGPT in addition to a tutor this past year, while 15% of parents with school-aged children said their kids used it in addition to a tutor as well. “ChatGPT is very good at being able to collect information and provide it in a very succinct way, but it’s not a tutor,” says Diane Gayeski, professor of Strategic Communications at Ithaca College.
“In November 2022, ChatGPT unveiled the incredible world of generative AI, and now, a mere ten months later, we’re taking a closer look at the strides made since and the hurdles that still lie ahead for schools,” writes Michael Gaskell, principal in East Brunswick Schools in New Jersey. “What have we learned?”
Top How-To Articles
“Over the summer it finally happened to me: While reading a student essay in an introductory online college course at one of the universities at which I teach, I began to suspect not only that this student hadn’t written it but that no human mind had. In other words, it was the work of AI,” writes Erik Ofgang, Tech & Learning Senior Writer and higher ed instructor. “Like many educators across the globe, I was thrust into a brave new world of modern teaching that I had not been trained for and to which an appropriate response was unclear.”
Tech & Learning’s senior writer, Erik Ofgang, shares how he no longer bores his students and those who attend his workshops on writing with “death by PowerPoint” presentations. Here are his tech and low-tech strategies — including handouts, polls, pre-quizzes — that are easier to put together and lead to more engaging presentations.
Daniel T. Willingham is not your typical TikTok star. The mild-mannered psychology professor at the University of Virginia doesn’t share recipes, exercise tips, or make funny videos featuring animals. Instead, he clearly and concisely provides evidence-based advice for students and educators on how they can work smarter not harder.
“It is important to reshape how we as teachers approach the use of AI in the classroom as we enter the new school year,” writes Dr. Stephanie Smith Budhai, associate clinical professor in the department of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum at Drexel University, in Pennsylvania. “AI is here to stay and will be a part of our students’ future, so we need to account for it in our instruction and their learning.”
It’s easy to see how the free version of ChatGPT, and other similar tools such as Google Bard and the GPT-4-powered subscription version of ChatGPT, could be helpful to teachers, especially new educators. Our senior writer tested ways in which the technology could help prepare for a hypothetical journalism course. The machine did surprisingly well.
Top Edtech Tool Articles
AI tools can make teachers’ lives easier and help them teach more efficiently, says Lance Key, award-winning educator and support specialist at the Putnam County School System in Tennessee. “We’re just scratching the surface right now with what we’re going to be able to do with AI,” he says. “If we do it right, we’ll be able to help kids, and they’ll be able to have opportunities that they didn’t have in the past.”
Fortunately for educators, digital AI detection tools have quickly proliferated in response to the new AI-enabled text generators. We tested the performance of 13 free AI detection websites, with some surprising results. Many were completely fooled by the ChatGPT text, indicating they haven’t kept up with its well-publicized advances. And fewer than half were able to correctly—and with certainty—identify all four trial texts.
GPTZero is a free tool designed to detect writing generated by ChatGPT, the AI writing tool that has sent shockwaves through the education system due to its ability to instantly generate human-seeming text in response to prompts. GPTZero was created by Edward Tian, a senior at Princeton University who was inspired after he saw the potential for student cheating through AI. “I think this technology is the future. AI is here to stay,” Tian says. “But at the same time, we have to build the safeguards so that these new technologies are adopted responsibly.”
An interactive whiteboard is, essentially, a giant touchscreen computer or tablet device that sits on the wall of the class. These are crammed with powerful features designed specifically with teaching in mind. The best interactive whiteboards for education can help to make digital learning a more inclusive class-based experience. It can also make the life of a teacher a lot easier, saving time and helping attain that paper-free classroom.
Khan Academy is launching Khanmigo, a GPT-4 powered learning guide, to select educators and students. Unlike ChatGPT, Khanmigo won’t do school work for students but will instead act as a tutor and guide to help them learn, says Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy. Using GPT-4, it will be able to “do things that seemed like science fiction before that, like drive a nuanced conversation,” Khan says. “I actually think that 4, if it’s prompted right, feels like it passes the Turing Test. It really feels like a caring human on the other side.”
SlidesGPT is one of the many tools to come from the advent of artificial intelligence going mainstream with ChatGPT and its various competitors. This particular tool is designed to help make slide presentation creation easier through automating a lot of it, using AI. The idea is that you simply type in what you want and the system will trawl the internet for images and information to come back with a slideshow all set for you.
“The gap between science fiction and the classroom is closing before our eyes and something like the future I read about as a science fiction-obsessed kid in the 90s is starting to materialize, and in some cases has already materialized, in classrooms across the country,” writes Erik Ofgang, T&L senior staff writer and an educator. “We have robot tutors, hologram lessons, and near-instant translation tools.”