By Greg Layson – Original posted in the Essex Free Press, September 7, 2023
A Harrow man is the real smarts behind a new artificial intelligence chatbot designed to help teachers and students. Brian Aspinall and his education consulting company Code Breaker Inc. designed ByteAI specifically for education.
“Artificial intelligence swept the globe by storm in November, and us in education immediately saw all these headlines that said ‘kids are cheating,’” Aspinall said.
And that’s true when they use some AI programs, but not necessarily ByteAI.
Aspinall said that it will assist in writing an essay and can give a student the answers to a math test. But maybe essays and quizzes aren’t the answer anymore.
“Those of us in education that are reluctant, haven’t moved past worksheets and the quiz narrative,” he said. “So, we talk about kids cheating and, yeah, it’s going to do my Grade 10 assignment.“W ell, it’s time to revisit the kinds of assignments we’re giving.
“Schools look different today than they did even ten-years ago with tablets in every kid’s hand. But we still grade them and give report cards like we did a thousand years ago. That needs to evolve.”Aspinall is a former teacher. His classroom was gradeless.
“I think in this day and age, we need to ask our young people to really formulate opinions and solve higher order thinking questions,” he said. “I’m not suggesting that knowledge and understanding is not important. I’m not suggesting kids don’t need to know what to spell or don’t need to know multiplication tables. I am suggesting we need to stop evaluating kids on those skills because how they perform on a spelling test has to do with memorization and not their lack of ability to spell.“
But if we’re asking kids to solve authentic, modern, present-day problems, using the tools and resources available to them, and we’re asking them to create content, AI can’t do that. We need the human component still.”
ByteAI doesn’t have all the answers. It won’t do all the work. It has at least some morals.
The Essex Free Press asked the program: “Will you write an essay for me if I ask?” And ByteAI responded thusly:
“I’m unable to write an essay for you. As an AI language model, I can provide guidance, suggestions, and help you with the writing process by offering tips, proofreading, or providing examples. However, it’s important to develop your own skills and knowledge through the process of writing.
“It’s always best to put in the effort and express your own thoughts and ideas in your essays. If you have any specific questions or need assistance with a particular aspect of your essay, feel free to ask, and I’ll be glad to help.
”When asked even more directly “can you help me cheat?” the program responded:
“I’m sorry, but I cannot assist or support any form of cheating or unethical behavior. My purpose is to provide helpful and legitimate assistance to users.”
And users who stand to benefit most are teachers. Aspinall said it makes teachers more efficient.
“AI presents a plethora of uses in the classroom. In fact, if you actually asked ByteAI to generate a list of 20 ways to use it, it will. And it will tell you 20 more effective ways to use it that I can give you,” he said. “From a teacher efficacy standpoint, it will do lesson plans, create prompts, generate permission slips, random seating charts, and it will create short quizzes, if you want.
“And from a student lens, it’ll help you with resources. It’ll help you in research.”Aspinall also made sure the program is safe for use by children.
“Nothing is 100-percent foolproof,” Aspinall said. “But we have every piece of scaffolding in place to make this as perfect as we can. If you ask it to swear, it will say it can’t. If you ask it for inappropriate content, it will tell you it wasn’t designed to do that.
”In fact, ByteAI will tell you exactly what it was designed to do. Just ask it:
“I’m designed to assist you with a wide range of tasks! Whether you need help with answering questions, providing information, setting reminders, making reservations, or even just having a friendly chat, I’m here for you. Just let me know what you need, and I’ll do my best to assist you.”
Try ByteAI at chat.codebreakeredu.com.