Introduction to Generative AI and Educational Publishing

Having spent over a decade in the publishing industry, I’ve seen how the transition to digital communication and systems has brought incremental changes to the age-old processes of developing educational books. My recent experiments with ChatGPT and other AI tools have led me to believe that these technologies could be a catalyst of change for publishers. I’ve tried my best to craft the perfect prompt (a written instruction to ChatGPT) to generate lesson plans, summaries, multiple-choice questions, blurbs, marketing copy, and educational content. In doing so, I’ve seen that these AI models have the potential to significantly enhance product development pipelines, thus enabling even smaller, digitally-adept teams to create textbooks and other educational materials that rival the offerings of industry leaders.

Understanding Generative AI

But first, what exactly is generative AI? These systems use large language models, trained on vast amounts of data, to generate text by predicting the likelihood of the next word given a specific context. They are sophisticated prediction machines. Responses are generated using prompts. These detailed instructions combine context, examples, data, and restrictions. With advanced language capabilities, these large language models (examples include ChatGPT, GPT-4, Claude and Bing) can impact how educational content, such as textbooks, are written and revised by assisting authors, editors, and proofreaders in automating tasks, structuring content and refining text. By automating various tasks and generating highly-customisable material, publishers can streamline their workflows and explore new business opportunities. It’s exciting times ahead for publishers willing to disrupt themselves!

The rapid rise of generative AI in the workplace also means new skills are required. Organisations must prioritise a continuous learning culture and focus on skilling employees in digital literacy, AI and data analytics. Publishers need to upskill staff to understand how to use data-driven approaches to educational content development while adapting workflows to take advantage of the efficiencies offered by generative AI. I’ve set up a personal learning pathway for myself in these areas, which I will be cascading down to my team. 

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A Guide to Teaching AI Literacy in South African Classrooms

Inspired by a recent article in the Times Higher Education about AI literacy, I drafted a guide for South African teachers who may want to integrate AI literacy into their classes.

As teachers shaping the minds of the next generation, you have the critical task of preparing your learners for a future that is, as we speak, being sculpted by rapidly evolving technologies. One such game-changer is Artificial Intelligence or AI. Now, more than ever, AI is becoming a household term. But what does it mean for the classroom? What is AI literacy, and why should it matter to you and your students?

At its core, AI Literacy is the knowledge and skills needed to engage with and critically evaluate AI systems and technologies effectively. This is not just about understanding the nuts and bolts of algorithms – it’s about cultivating an awareness of how AI impacts our daily lives, the ethical considerations, and discerning the biases and risks that come with AI-generated information. 

Now, imagine the future workplace your learners will enter. The tools and technologies that will be at their disposal are the ones that are either powered by or will work alongside AI. By integrating AI literacy into the classroom, we are not just keeping education contemporary; we are empowering our learners to be informed contributors to society, practised at navigating the AI-infused landscape.

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Using ChatGPT to Generate Tailored Practice Questions for Students

As technology continues to advance, educators are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to improve their teaching methods. One such technology that has gained popularity in recent years is ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot that can understand and respond to written input in a way that is similar to human conversation.

While ChatGPT has been primarily used for generating high-level and generic text, it has the potential to be a valuable tool in education. Specifically, it can be used to generate practice questions that are aligned with students’ individual needs. By inputting a block of text related to a specific topic, ChatGPT can generate multiple-choice questions with varying levels of difficulty.

This approach to generating practice questions has several benefits. Firstly, it saves educators time by automating the process of creating questions. Secondly, it allows for a more personalised approach to assessment, as the questions are tailored to each student’s needs. Finally, it provides students with an opportunity to practice their knowledge and skills in a way that is engaging and interactive. As such, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionise the way educators approach assessment in the classroom.

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