Grapple Session: An Inquiry into AI and Ethics

Grapple Session One poemLast night, I joined an online gathering of folks in The Grapple Series, hosted by the National Writing Project’s Western Pennsylvania Writing Project and a group out of Carnegie Mellon called the CREATE Lab. This was the first of four scheduled sessions on AI and Ethics, and it was a fascinating start to the conversation and inquiry.

One of the guiding inquiry questions revolves around the dual wonder of whether we humans are making our machines more human or whether machines are humanizing us. Or some variation of that question. Essentially, it has us critically looking at the rise of AI in our society, and in education and writing. We were a mix of technology doubters and evangelists, I think, which made the discussion all the more richer.

If ever there was a time to pause and look more closely at Artificial Intelligence and humanity, now is the time. And for us teachers, this kind of inquiry is critical, not just for our profession (where Big Tech is pushing AI as the solution for problems of accountability and teaching time) but also for our students, and the social world they are inhabiting now and beyond.

I didn’t have this inquiry question formulated last night but it is starting to come together for me …

How do we teach students about the impact of Artificial Intelligence on our lives with the urgency of NOW, the present, as opposed to some futuristic notion of the Rise of Machines of science fiction?

We did a fun game of Bot or Not, that had us looking at poetry and trying to decide if it was created by human hand/mind/soul or a machine. I did a fair job, mostly through luck and instinct and not through any real insights I have in knowing what’s a bot or not with a piece of writing. (My morning poem, above, was inspired by further thinking this morning of last night’s session)

The hosts — Michelle King, Laura Roop, and Beatrice Dias — were fantastic, guiding the discussion and opening the Zoom space for conversations (which is difficult when you have a lot of people in the space). I’m looking forward to the next session, when the conversation will turn on Algorithms and Ethical Design (I think that was the title, but I could be wrong …)

Peace (in a human world),
Kevin

Sketch-er-ama Collaboration

I was part of a small team of strangers, becoming friends, from around the world who were taking part in World Sketchnote Day on Saturday by playing a global game of “pass the sketch.” The idea is that one person starts a sketchtnote, and passes it to the next, who adds to it and passes it along, etc.

The whole thing was organized by some real passionate sketch-noters and I had signed on because it sounded interesting. And it was. The team of five of us made an interesting canvas, and all of the teams involved — not sure how many there were but quite a few — were sending sketches around the world via Twitter, too.

You can see some of the collaborative work and passing of the drawings via the hashtag: #passthesketchnote

And this video is a nice overview by Carrie, a main organizer:

 

I do have my students do visual-notetaking/sketchnoting in class, particularly when doing active listening to stories. While not much of an artist myself, I enjoy the process, and always appreciate the opportunity for collaboration with others. Thanks to my team — #14 — for their wonderful art, and for allowing me a corner to do my own bit as the canvas traveled the world.

Peace (ink it),
Kevin

MadLib-ification Remix-ification of Poet-ification

MadLibification

This is a response to Terry’s post about Madlib-ification. I decided to respond quite literally … creating an interactive Mad Lib (via Mad Takes), based on the poem he riffed off, which I riffed off … with apologies to James Wright … go on and play it .. make a remix poem …
Peace (fill in the blanks),
Kevin

Mad:)Takes - free online ad-Lib word game similar to Mad Libs™

MadLib-ification of a Poem

PART OF THE BODY
COLOR ADJECTIVE
COLOR ADJECTIVE
ACTION WORD
COLOR ADJECTIVE
BUILDING
TIME OF DAY
CHOOSE LEFT OR RIGHT
NAME OF TREES
ANIMAL SPECIES, PLURAL
COLOR
KIND OF BIRD

Annotated Sound Files: Turning Terry’s Poem into Song

Terry Poem Song Annotated

Yesterday, I shared the song I created after reading Terry’s poem. This morning, after reading some lovely comments from him about process and time and effort, I went back into my sound project and began to annotate where his words influenced what sounds. I found it a useful bit of reflection and I suspect Terry might find it a bit intriguing, too.

Note: Shrinking the project to see all the tracks made everything tiny. Apologies.

Read yesterday’s post to better understand the annotations

Peace (sounds like dawn),
Kevin

Words Translated Into Song

My friend, Terry, posted a beautiful poem of a morning with his wife, on the porch, at his blog on his birthday. I read it a few times and thought I could just hear the glimmers of a song simmering below the surface of this lines. Luckily, I had some time to make just that — a song interpretation of Terry’s poem, with sound files, beats, loops and small snippets of his poem (read by me).

What I find interesting is how I was both trying to capture my own feeling of reading Terry’s words but also being intentional in taking it in a new direction. If you read his poem, you should hear some of his moments. You may also wonder what I was thinking, as you listen to other elements. Mostly, I was trying to capture the heartbeat of his piece.

Doing this kind of work brings you deeper into the text, a closer kind of reading. Every word has the possibility of something to give. I hope Terry enjoys the interpretation, left for him as a gift for his birthday.

Peace (in song),
Kevin

Further Defining Digital Literacies: Narrative Disruption and Story Amplification

Defining Digital Literacies NCTE narrativesI’m slowly reading and digesting, the National Council of Teachers of English revised definition of Literacy in a Digital Age, and I am appreciating the depth of the inquiry.

Words have power. Stories have power. Who gets to tell those stories with those words wields power, and shapes the narratives. A critical look at this truth of storytelling is the center of the section of the definition of Digital Literacies where the use of multi-modal narratives either hem or cloud in our understanding of the diverse world, or open it up to new views.

This particular section of the NCTE document (second to last section) focuses on providing our students with access, understanding and use of digital tools — from audio, to video, to game design, to image, to words, to whatever we can’t yet imagine — to tell and share their own stories in meaningful ways in digital spaces as well as critique others. (There is a token nod to ‘print-based literacies,’ too). There’s a bit too much educational jargon in this section for my tastes but I still appreciate the depth of the thinking and the phrase of “heightened awareness” rings true.

The definition section here also hints at understanding the pros and cons of these various digital tools, in ways these tools might expand our sense of self and community — for example, how visuals might add an emotional impact a story — and maybe work to inhibit these same aspects, too — so how visuals might emotionally impact a story, but with false heartstrings.

This passage stood out for me, too:

“Learners also need sustained opportunities to produce counter-narratives that expose and interrupt misguided texts that do not represent the fullness of their identities or life complexities. “

The phrases of “misguided texts” is both powerful — yes, to countering destructive narratives that misinform us — and troublesome — who determines what text is “misguided” and needs disrupting? And how does one teach that kind of lens without shaping our students’ world in our own set of values? I suppose we teachers accomplish this by making sure our students question everything, even us, with a critical eye, but particularly, to question those texts that focus on their own heritage, their own language, their own customs and religions, their own communities.

The next sentence also helps answer this question, too, by noting that

“… learners need opportunities within the curriculum to author multimodal stories in order to examine power, equity, and identities and grow as digitally savvy and civic-minded citizens.”

Literacies are a key to the world. Stories can unlock the doors, or bar them shut. Honing literary techniques to tell our stories and to parse through the stories of others is a key skill in the digital age we live in. We could all practice more of that.

Peace (disruption),
Kevin