Artificial Intelligence in schools should present educators, parents, and policymakers with many concerns but there are also opportunities. Pat Yongpradit, in his role with Code.org is also working with the TeachAI initiative. He shares a candid conversation about how teachers can share what they are observing with AI, the benefits, and also some very real concerns he has about artificial intelligence and its impact on humankind.
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Harnessing the future of AI without losing our way: a candid conversation with Pat Yongpradit
Pat Yongpradit, Chief Academic Officer for Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to promoting computer science education
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- EVERFI – https://everfi.com/coolcat
- Code.org – https://code.org/
- TeachAI Initiative – https://teachai.org/
- 80 Days of AI and HI – https://www.coolcatteacher.com/80daysofaiandhi-day1/
- Join Teach AI Form – https://forms.gle/wKXtUaxze5fZ2AHb9
- AI Job Statistics – https://marketsplash.com/jobs-lost-to-automation/
Table of Contents
Pat Yongpradit is the Chief Academic Officer for Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to promoting computer science education. As an international thought leader in computer science education, Pat has influenced each stage of the education system, from policy to practice, in the legislature, and in the classroom. During his career as a secondary school computer science teacher, he inspired students to create games and apps for social causes and implemented initiatives to broaden participation in computer science among underrepresented groups. He led the development of the influential K-12 Computer Science Framework and is currently leading TeachAI. He has been featured in the book, “American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom,” recognized as a Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Educator, and certified in biology, physics, math, health, and technology education. Although Pat currently spends more time focused on computer science from a global perspective, he still finds ways to sneak into the classroom :)
X.com (formerly Twitter): @MrYongpradit
Teaching with AI: Harnessing the Future without Losing Our Way – An In-Depth Conversation with Pat Yongpradit
00:00:00:02 – 00:00:03:11
This is the Ten Minute Teacher podcast with your host, Vicki Davis.
00:00:03:12 – 00:00:30:08
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Meet Pat Yongpradit from Code.org and Teach.AI
00:00:30:09 – 00:00:47:19
Now, we've all been talking about AI, I have had my 80 days of AI and HI going on the blog. And Pat, you're right in the middle of this. What what's happening to education? Like, is this just hype, or is there something really happening right now?
00:00:48:23 – 00:01:21:08
It's happening from the classroom where a lot of your audience is from.
Thank you all for teaching, by the way. I used to be a teacher for 13 years. I don't know what you went through through the pandemic, unfortunately, but I do know what teaching was like before then. And so just thank you for doing that.
Supporting AI’s Move into Education Systems
I wanted to tell your audience that there's this cloud of people around schools that are just clamoring for any guidance they can get around how to support the incorporation of AI into education systems.
00:01:22:01 – 00:01:48:18
And, you know, before I got involved in policy at code.org, at the state, national and international level, I didn't even know how deep the ecosystem went around schools. Folks, there are not just your district administrators and district superintendents and directors of I.T. who are trying to figure out what to do with AI. But there are the state legislators in education committees.
00:01:49:05 – 00:02:09:05
There are multiple Congress folks and senators currently engaging in AI legislation, some of it which touches on education, actually. Federal Department of Education in the U.S. and even ministries of education internationally that are just trying to figure this out. Unfortunately, most of them haven't even been using it. That's what's really scary.
AI and the Seismic Shift It is Bringing to Education and the World
00:02:09:23 – 00:02:36:14
So as you have this organization that you're working with, where do we start that you can talk about? I mean, what are you grappling with to help all of us move forward in a world that fundamentally has changed in terms of education and the tools we use? I mean, bigger than when search came out and was effective, bigger than the calculator.
00:02:37:00 – 00:02:45:23
Large language models. AI. All the different AI tools which is being built into everything we use is really a seismic shift.
00:02:47:02 – 00:03:08:21
It is a seismic shift. And I think a lot of people in edtech or in computer science or just in information technology kind of understand inherently how different this technology is compared to other waves of education technology. And what I'm wrestling with, Vicki, is how to make the most of this opportunity so that it actually has lasting positive change for education.
After COVID Many Schools Went Back to Normal
00:03:08:21 – 00:03:28:12
As you know, Vicki, education is very resistant to change. Super duper resistant to change. I mean, COVID almost broke us, but, you know, we've come back and minus at the last six months or eight months of, you know, ChatGPT being released, we were kind of just back to normal. Kids took a big hit; teachers took a big hit.
How Can We Use the Change AI Brings for Good Over the Long Term?
00:03:28:12 – 00:03:56:09
But school basically kind of just looked the same; I think, without proactive intentionality, schools will still survive the disruption of generative AI, like the economy as a whole might not. Industry won't survive disruption by generative AI, but schools probably will without proactive intentionality from education leaders. And so what I'm wrestling with is trying to figure out how to turn this towards the good over the long term.
00:03:56:13 – 00:04:15:16
And my key thing is figuring out how to use this window of opportunity to amplify some of the already great ideas out there in education, like competency-based education, project-based learning, etc. etc. I think these things will now finally have their time to shine because of AI.
What can classrooms do to bring their classroom experience with AI to the forefront?
00:04:15:18 – 00:04:36:17
Also, looking at the big picture, the conversations that are happening. And what can I as a classroom teacher do to you know, you said you’re wanting feedback and you are looking for what's next. What can average everyday classroom teachers do to share their experience, ask questions or bring issues to the forefront? Because it's just changing so rapidly.
00:04:36:23 – 00:04:58:03
And this is a very practical thing. Go to the TeachAI website. There are two buttons. One says Join TeachAI, and the other one is updates. If you go to the join TeachAI form, you can input your advice, like what you want to see from TeachAI. And I'd love to get your audience's perspectives and their desires.
What Do You Say to Those Who Want to Block AI in Schools?
00:04:58:04 – 00:05:14:14
So what do you say to those that say, “We just have to block it all because it's going to ruin education,” and “Everybody's going to be dishonest, and it just needs to be completely out of schools?” And so “somebody needs to create a way to make generative AI illegal in schools.”
00:05:14:16 – 00:05:38:20
We were talking earlier, and you told me that it's impossible to ban it anyway because it's already in other things. It's not just out there on its own. It's not just the OpenAI website on its own. It's obviously a lot of apps now are using the GPT plug ins and calling on the GPT libraries to run generative AI features in their own apps, so it's kind of technically impossible to ban it fully anyway.
00:05:38:20 – 00:05:58:12
And so the only other option is to figure out, well, how do you change education to reflect this new reality?
And even if people found a way, a technical way to ban it from all devices in a school building, it doesn't matter because as soon as you step out of the school building, it's everywhere. Yeah, I'm super curious.
00:05:58:12 – 00:06:20:09
I saw a survey result, so this was probably been like early spring, and I saw that over half of the schools in the US had banned, you know, Chat GPT or generative AI tools. And, and I'm just curious what that will be moving forward and understand the problem around cheating how that makes it makes life very difficult for teachers.
00:06:20:11 – 00:06:24:22
It's almost like it doesn't… banning it just doesn't solve the cheating problem anyway.
We will all supervise AI in the future.
00:06:24:23 – 00:06:45:00
Well they they shared a number at ISTE and I'm sure my numbers aren't exactly correct, but it was in the 80 million range of jobs that were going to be eliminated by AI. But it was in the 90 million range of jobs that were going to be created with humans who were using AI. The future is everybody will be a supervisor.
Editor’s note: I’ve verified these statistics since recording this podcast. “A.I. is estimated to replace 85 million jobs by 2025, but 97 million new jobs will be created due to A.I.” Job Loss by McKinsey and Company. I recommend reading the statistics compiled by MarketSplash on AI as they are concerning, although full of opportunity, and should shape our conversations.
00:06:45:00 – 00:06:51:18
All of us have to supervise A.I. and use it effectively. And it's just part of life. And there are times to use it and times not.
Concerns about Laziness
00:06:51:18 – 00:07:09:06
Do you want to share something that actually does concern me because, you know, you and I are in the game of really trying to turn this for the good, and we do illuminate the positive uses. But there is something that I still can't get around, and it actually is very personal. So I use a variety of generative A.I. tools.
00:07:09:06 – 00:07:36:22
I kind of play around with them and try to because I'm curious about them anyway, and I use them for a variety of things. And I came upon a situation where I wanted to use a tool recently, but I couldn't access it. For some reason, the website was down or something like that. It was overwhelmed. Instead of me mentally doing the work myself, which was actually not that hard, I decided to just keep on like refreshing the page to see if the tool would be back up.
00:07:37:15 – 00:07:54:12
And basically, what I'm concerned about is just people getting mentally lazy, and honestly, I don't think there's any way around it, Vicki; I think this is a very serious thing, and it will be something we'll have to figure out. Just like, you know, obesity has become a much bigger issue over time because, you know, life has just gotten a lot easier physically.
00:07:54:12 – 00:07:55:20
We're going to get mentally lazy.
Using ChatGPT for Better Programming and Coding
00:07:55:21 – 00:08:14:09
Today I was writing in PowerShell something they call it Flow, now, Microsoft, a tool that scrapes our calendars and then it emails everybody the next five days. Right? And I was trying to add this new shared calendar, and I'm using Chat GPT to coach me on how to do this thing in a arrays that I hadn't done in years.
00:08:14:09 – 00:08:34:10
And so I actually got so much further, I would not have taken the time because you end up on those little message boards, you know, about how to solve this obscure problem. And it was actually telling me the stuff I needed. And so I was getting further along in coding that particular problem than I ever would have been.
00:08:34:10 – 00:08:52:05
So, for example, AII built into spreadsheets like we're going to, we're going to be like data mavens because it will help us do the formulas nobody has time to figure out. So, you know, there are some cases where it may actually push us further. You know, when the calculator came out everybody thought it was the end of math.
00:08:52:05 – 00:09:11:21
Well, with the calculators let us do is now we're teaching college level stuff, that we’re now teaching college in high school. You know. So in some ways I just have to wonder because humans are resilient if we're not going to now, you know, can it make us lazy? Of course it could. But, you know, if you can be replaced, you will be replaced.
Asking LLM’s Personal Questions
00:09:11:21 – 00:09:34:01
I worry about kids asking large language models for advice on emotional, personal issues like that really, really concerns me when I have kids say, you know, “I was up in the middle of the night, I was really upset about a death in the family. So I asked it, How do I deal with death?” That that's a bad idea.
00:09:34:01 – 00:09:52:20
Like it's not created to give you good advice on how you deal with something that sensitive. And I'm like, Well, why don't you have somebody to talk to? She said, “Oh, my generation doesn't listen. You know, AI will listen to me. And I don't have any friends who will listen.” And I'm like, you know, that is, to me, very dangerous.
Do Kids Perceive AI as “Safe” to Talk To?
00:09:53:16 – 00:10:15:07
I mean, yeah, like kids don't even want to try because they all have this very safe thing, you know, again, positive or negative, the fact that it's safe, that it's, you know, it won't tell on the kid or something like that, I mean, that's great. But I mean, what about just trying trying to talk to your parents or trying to talk to a a friend or whatever?
00:10:15:07 – 00:10:26:00
And I know that in some cases, some kids don't have access to folks like that, caring folks. And so the AI is actually a great alternative. But in other cases, kids will just get lazy.
00:10:35:09 – 00:10:54:18
So I do encourage everyone listening to today's show to go to TeachAI. I will include a link in the show notes. Sign up. I signed up the moment I saw it come out, Pat, I saw all the folks who were involved, you included, and was like, This is we really need the conversations to happen.
00:10:54:18 – 00:11:25:13
I do want to encourage classroom educators, as you have opinions about AI, get out there and share those opinions. Share what you're seeing in the classroom, because truly, we are at a pivotal moment in history and this generation has already been through so much. They're struggling emotionally, they're struggling psychologically, and we need to be communicating and rapidly innovating and rapidly moving forward so that we can really help this generation not just make it, but to thrive.
00:11:25:13 – 00:11:55:03
So thank you, Pat, for caring so much about kids. And it really makes me feel good that a classroom teacher who still knows what teaching is all about is working with these initiatives. So thanks for being on the show.
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