This image brings to life a classroom where technology and human interaction are seamlessly integrated. Interactive walls respond to students' inputs in real-time, with the teacher facilitating a dynamic learning experience. The vibrant colors against the sophisticated grays highlight the sparks of insight and creativity flowing through the room.

Helen Beetham comment on OpenAI’s Sora AI video generating engine in relation to education. She makes three fantastic points: first, that pivoting an assessment to a different medium doesn’t make for a different assignment; second that ‘spot how the AI generated video is incorrect’ is a cute end-of-term quiz, not the syllabus; third, that auto-graded assignments which are auto-generated is a waste of everyone’s time.

Something for educators to ponder, for sure.

(My thesis supervisor, Steve Higgins, used to talk about technologies that ‘increase the teacher bubble’ such as interactive whiteboards. I think part of the problem with AI is that bursts the assessment bubble.)t

Only five minutes ago, educators were being urged to get around student use of synthetic text by setting more ‘innovative’ assignments, such as videos and presentations. Some of us pointed out that this would work for about five minutes, and here we are. The medium is not the assignment. The assignment is the work of its production. This is already enshrined in many practices of university assessment, such as authentic assessment (a resource from Heriot Watt University), assessment for learning (a handy table from Queen Mary’s UL) and assessing the process of writing (often from teaching English as a second language, e.g. this summary from the British Council). The generative AI surge has prompted a further shift towards these methods: I’ve found some great resources recently at the University of Melbourne and the University of Monash.

But all these approaches require investment in teachers. Attending to students as meaning-making people, negotiating authentic assessments, giving feedback on process, and welcoming diversity: these are very difficult to ‘scale’. And in all but a few universities, funding per student is diminishing. So instead there is standardisation, and data-based methods to support standardisation, and this has turned assessment into a process that can easily be gamed. If the pressures on students to auto-produce assignments are matched by pressures on staff to auto-detect and auto-grade them, we might as well just have student generative technologies talk directly to institutional ones, and open a channel from student bank accounts directly into the accounts of big tech while universities extract a percentage for accreditation.

Source: imperfect offerings

Image: DALL-E 3