On Generative AI and Assignments

One bit of advice given to teachers that seems to be common in this year since generative AI stormed on to the educational landscape is “if your assignments can be done by ChatGPT, then it is time to update the assignment.” 

While that may be true, the reality is that few teachers want to hear that. Actually, that is not true. There is a population of teachers who do not want to hear that and who will push back on both generative AI (arguing it must be banned and blocked) and pushing back on the suggestion that their assignments are not worthy. 

Teachers can be divided into two general categories: Those who teach every year or those who teach one year then repeat it throughout their careers. In high school, I had a social studies teacher who emptied his file every three years. He wanted to refresh his materials for both his students and him. He is an example of the first type of teacher. I also had a colleague with whom I worked for 10 years. He taught the same lessons every single year throughout the time we worked together. He did change on year… rather than having students copy and paste into word processing documents to do a research paper, he has them copy and paste into slide shows. 

My purpose on this blog is not to express my judgements on those who fall into either group—although I do have opinions… strong opinions—but it is to suggest we recognize the opinions of those who feel threatened by generative AI. Teachers’ strategies are usually based on their strong beliefs that what they are doing is best for their students. The rationale is tautological but is believed: “I do this because it is best for my students, and I know it is best because I do it.” 

Be careful in suggesting these folks examine their assignments, you are likely to alienate them.