Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Let’s Get Educated on AI

Written by: on September 10, 2023

*heart emoji*, *kiss emoji*. I have sent both of these texts unintentionally. The more harmless, *heart emoji*, was sent to my mom and while it was a mistake, it was probably for the best. The *kiss emoji* was sent to an elderly Chinese man who is the coordinating pastor at a church I guest speak at. I was horrified. Both were sent as Google generated auto-responses to texts I received. The two responses highlight some of the interesting uses and consequences of AI in its most popular form, large language models.

First, it’s useful! Honestly, in the right context, both emojis made sense. The heart emoji was in response to my mom saying thank you, and the kiss emoji sent in response to a “have a good night” text. With better inputs than simply a single text, AI does what it’s supposed to do (predict what words string together best) pretty well. And given enough time and training, large language models do even better.

So what’s with the trepidation? Maybe we’ve watched one too many movies like I, Robot where artificial intelligence takes over the world and stamps out human beings. Or maybe, we’re simply scared of the unknown. We have to remember that similar fears to the ones we’re seeing about AI were stoked about the use of Wikipedia in education. “How can we be sure that the content is true?” “You can’t use that for your homework!” “How can we be sure the student is doing their own work?”  “You can’t learn like that!” “How will you survive in the workplace?” What’s ironic, especially about the last question, is that these fears are holding us back from evolving and teaching students to use the resources and tools that are available to them. The responsible thing to do is to lean into it. As said by Lydia Liu, “I strongly believe in the need for stakeholders to understand the cyclical effects of AI and education. By understanding how different activities accrue, we have the ability to support virtuous cycles. Otherwise, we will likely allow vicious cycles to perpetuate.”[1]

I want to use a personal hot take to show how we should and should not approach embracing AI in education. Learning Greek and Hebrew isn’t essential as a pastor. And to clarify, I mean learning Greek or Hebrew in a traditional sense of learning a language, by building a large bank of memorized vocabulary and word conjugations/forms. We have incredible resources available to us in the form of pay to use softwares like Logos and free to use websites like Biblehub that will parse sentences and words for us. Shouldn’t we be teaching students to use those tools effectively by allowing them for use on homework and exams? How much time and effort could be saved for similar, if not better, outcomes for students who are trying to integrate original languages into their sermon preparations or Bible studies? Similarly, rather than dying on a hill of tradition that we call “learning”, shouldn’t we help students and educators understand the beneficial uses and pitfalls of AI so we can both learn and teach better? I’m not sure exactly what it’ll look like, but it seems important to start getting more familiar and educating myself on what AI could mean for learning.

[1] U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, Artificial Intelligence and Future of Teaching and Learning: Insights and Recommendations, Washington, DC, 2023, https://www2.ed.gov/documents/ai-report/ai-report.pdf.

About the Author

Caleb Lu

4 responses to “Let’s Get Educated on AI”

  1. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Hey Caleb
    Great post! So, how’d the elderly Chinese man receive the kiss emoji?
    It is interesting to see how our initial reactions to new tools is a fear response coupled with moves to censor its use.
    I find your “hot take” interesting. I share this perspective in regards to learning Greek and Hebrew. What if we play out the example a bit? Having classes in the languages allows one to better use the tools available. Perhaps something similar could be developed within education to better utilize AI to enhance learning in proper ways. I think this is an interesting way to address the fears and provide better utilization.

    • Kristy Newport says:

      Chad’s sentiments are echoing my thoughts.

      I enjoyed your introduction with the emoji’s.
      I hope the pastor understood/dismissed your text as a mistake.

      You provide a good example of how AI might be best employed. Word studies in other languages might be best explored with AI.

  2. Michael O'Neill says:

    Awesome post. Super funny to send the wrong emoji too. I have had a few embarrassing texts myself. I do a lot of voice texting and if I read them later, I am usually appalled by the grammar and overall message. My closest staff member to me has told me they enjoy my voice texts and it’s become somewhat of a game to decipher them. I agree with you though. I think we need to lean into it and use it where it makes sense. Your example of Greek and Hebrew is perfect. I’ve learned a little of both but I never plan to speak it. I think we should be grateful for the technology and use it as a tool to push the kingdom forward, quicker…

  3. mm Becca Hald says:

    Caleb, great post. I agree, it is important to become familiar with AI. It is here and not going away. Your analogy of learning Greek and Hebrew is spot on. I love learning languages, but I think the traditional method of teaching biblical language and the requirements for it are outdated. I would love to see seminaries teach a class on the syntax and grammar of Greek and Hebrew, rather than focusing on memorizing verb charts.

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