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Insert-Only Interactions Are Not Always the Case

Perceptions of an Edtechie

I intentionally used artificial intelligence yesterday, and it was not as bad as I thought. For some time now, I have held the belief that artificial intelligence is something that only sucks the life out of humanity. I had adopted this mindset from the bits and bobs I knew about the darker side of artificial intelligence. I knew that good things were happening in the education, the medical industry and with clean energy efforts; however, those things were overshadowed by my knowledge of how algorithms are used to create systems to mange people or AI's role within the booming sex industry. In short, I was torn, and the negative somehow always won out.

So, let’s get back to this interaction. I received an email about an update I asked for from a colleague about some research materials I needed. I was elated to find out that my order was on the way. My eye caught a line at the bottom of the email that read, “Thank you very much.” It was one of a few options now available in Gmail. I clicked on the option. Then inserted “so”, and “I really appreciate you.” The end product read “Thank you so very much. I really appreciate you.” That short interaction saved me time and communicated exactly what I was thinking. My love-hate relationship with Google had stopped me from making use of something practical. And, I did not fall prey to the lure of click and move on because the interaction was not automated. It was tech-enhanced, but it was thoughtful and meaningful.

This dilemma that I’d previously struggled with is very similar to the disconnect between how some teachers perceive the impact and usefulness of tech tools versus tech-enhanced learning informed by pedagogy. The why we do what we do and the how we do what we do must be connected. If my intent is to sincerely say “thank you;” I can do that with a hand-written note (which is truly ideal), or I can send the essence of that idea with no less emotion or sincerity in less than 5 seconds. This is not to say that hand-written notes have become obsolete. They are valid; they are precious, and I use them; but, they are not practical as an everyday activity for me. There is more than one way to communicate appreciation and cultivate relationships. On the other hand, if I use artificial intelligence for the sake of impressing someone or merely to save time without the meaning behind it, then it becomes an unauthentic exchange. It becomes one click in a carefully orchestrated mass of automation.

Looking at this same idea from a different angle, I’d like to address something interesting that happens all the time that shows the double-edged sword of being an edtechie. So often when I tell people that I am passionate about culturally responsive technology integration, the follow-up response has something explicitly to do with technology. It is almost as it the relationship part, the cultural connections, the community building, the instruction to meet the needs of all learners, and the collaborative sharing take a second seat in their mind to their internal constructs around educational technology. They have placed me in a bucket with individuals who are tech savy or individuals with tech knowledge, but they have forgotten that I am a teacher first. And, although I use technology extensively to share ideas, to access and build from bodies of knowledge and to solve problems, uplifting communities is what truly drives what I do.

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