Last week, I assigned a research project to students. They were to research a genetic disease (they picked from a list) and then demonstrate their knowledge in whichever way they preferred, including an interactive lesson plan, a brochure, a parody song, etc.
Several students asked if they could use AI as part of their projects. One asked if he could use AI to style the slides. Another said he wanted to do a parody song but didn’t feel comfortable singing, so could he use AI to sing for him. I said yes and then explicitly made this option part of the assignment for all the students.
The rules are:
- You can use AI for one part of the project, but not for every part.
For example, you can write the words of your parody song, and have the AI sing it. Or you can write the text of your presentation, but have the AI make it into pretty slides or add images.
- I will hold your project to higher standards.
If you use AI, you will be graded as having used AI. Some types of mistakes which I may let slide if you are making everything from scratch, I would not let slide if you used AI to help you. Using AI means that your job is not necessarily easier, it’s a different job. Instead of making that part of your project, your goal is to edit it.
- You need to disclose the role of AI in your project.
In order for this to not be cheating, you need to be explicit with what was done by you, and what was done by AI. What prompt did you give it? What did it return and how did you edit it? Were there any options you rejected? This will also help me understand how you broke the project down into what you did, what the AI did for you, and how you adapted the AI’s output.
So far, I’ve only seen a few projects presented but I am impressed and excited. One student used a Canva template (not quite using AI but close) for a brochure which he then modified and the result was phenomenal.
He was able to
- Focus on the research and pulling out the important information, which connected to his work in English class of extracting themes and main ideas of a text, but adding the knowledge of gene editing he learned in science and the lateral reading skills he learned in social studies
- Thoughtfully tweak the design: he changed the color palette to blue because the colors of the awareness campaign for the disease he chose were blue! This showed careful, thoughtful design choices at a higher level than a typical 7th grade design task
- Practice the presentation: many students fall back on slides in order to feel comfortable presenting in front of the class, and even then, it takes a lot of work to not read off the overcrowded slide. This student used his time to practice presenting, and he presented the smoothest, clearest, calmest, presentation, without reading from the brochure, without any other visual aides. I was blown away.
This is a very interesting case study, because a Canva template is somwhere in between using a tool like AI and doing everything from scratch, and truly shows the possibilities of using available tools to elevate the quality of the work and move student thinking into higher levels rather than getting bogged down with the specifics of designing a brochure from scratch. I can’t wait to see the other projects!