Apr 21, 2023·edited Apr 21, 2023

I simply have to express my deep gratitude and love for everything you’ve been writing and sharing about GenAI, Ethan. This article is a shining example of what growth mindset plus nonzero sum thinking looks like in action. I’m giddy to experiment with these latest prompts and can’t thank you enough for how much you’re helping me, and so many others, navigate the incredible Cambrian explosion of paradigm-shifting technologies we’re all lucky enough to be alive to experience. Together we go far. Thank you, Professor Mollick, for helping to light the way.

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Apr 21, 2023Liked by Ethan Mollick

Ethan, thank you for this. I'm the Dean of Students at the NYU Stern MBA program, and I literally posted about this two days ago: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7054424505502347264/

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This post is apropos this morning. I teach marketing and entrepreneurship in high school, and your work has inspired me tremendously. We have gone all in with AI this semester and having a great time doing it. I've been creating prompts to use as class activities, but there were a few pain points--students had to copy the prompt exactly, I had no easy way of seeing how the activity was playing out for students, and the not-uncommon access issues. I've been working on a tool to solve these. I literally used it for the first time yesterday, but I'd love it if you and any like-minded educators could check it out: https://edufocus.ai/.

Teachers create prompts that are the AI class activities, these are loaded in a session (different class periods, terms, etc), and then a link is posted for students to complete the activity. There is a log of all the chats in a session and if you require login you can see what each student did and students can access them later.

Just to give a demo of what it does, you can try these two tasks. The first is an activity I made for our 10th grade English teacher in our business academy. He is having students research how we could improve our city using a fictional surplus budget using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. https://edufocus.ai/chat/?join=3-24c263

Here is another based on the first activity I did with students with ChatGPT. We used it to discuss if ChatGPT should be banned at the school. This example is also gamified with turns and scoring. https://edufocus.ai/chat/?join=4-5d7142

Thank you for the continued inspiration!

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Ethan, I'm like a dog waiting for its treat...I can't wait for when you post! Your insight, knowledge, and experiments with generative AI are what I as an instructional designer want to know about. I want to bring back to the faculty actionable items they can do NOW. I always send them the link to your posts. Thank you for, as @Maciej Workiewicz said, blazing a new trail for us! I so appreciate you and your efforts in getting to know generative AI in the education field and SHARING with us.

I have a question you may or may not be able to answer (others are welcomed to chime in as well): is there any training, in-depth training, out there on writing extensive prompts to garner the generated content to its full potential? Is it a tiered approach, drilling down, basically scaffolding your prompts or are there other ways to prompt that would work better for certain disciplines? Just curious...writing the 'right' kind of prompt will be key for faculty and I'd like to provide how to prompt so they are successful in their endeavors. :)

Thank you for your time...and keep on blazin' that trail Ethan! Can't wait to take your webinar May 2nd!! Heather - ID at a community college

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Thanks Ethan,

i love your post for using Chat-GPT well.

unfortunately, i am stuck in a meta -crisis - that i mentioned on Conor Grennan's linkedin post -

we still need to solve the hardware, mobile network and electricity problems (assuming mid-day meals; a roof over the head is not a problem and of course, no conflict and of course, no religious indoctrination )

until the next generation everywhere is in a safe/secure (no conflict zone) with basic infra - of food, shelter etc. and mobile connectivity, electricity and hardware ... the burgeoning inequity would undermine many of our goals!

i would like to disagree with your use of the word - "democratizing" - while semantically and functionally correct is not useful in the broader context.

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I asked it to explain situational irony. Its explanation was fairly bad, pretty much garden variety not-quite-bright middle school English teacher who doesn't get it and has low expectations. Not impressed. I think your standards may be low.

If you think people are going to learn how to program from dumbed down explanations that gamify things, you are sadly mistaken.

I do learn a lot from you and appreciate the blog, but I think you're getting into a gee whiz this is so great mode that is defeating your purposes. To learn, you have to work and to think. I'm glad you got that little 25% improvement in Ugandan something or other. Nice. But dream on if you think that people are going to get smart from gamifying physics and programming.

Still, a little improvement is better than none. However, you seem unaware of Hattie's (sp?) research showing that almost any intervention works well for a while. The kind of changes you're seeing are what's typical for any intervention. Nothing special except the AI label.

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Ethan, this is a very good post. You are blazing a new trail here. I posted your prompt to Bing Creative and played a little bit with it. One specific use I see for my own approach is to make programming and modeling accessible to more of my students. I followed your template and asked GPT-4 to explain the Central Limit Theorem to university students and then followed up with this prompt:

write a code in Python that helps to visualize how central limit theorem works. Do this by giving the user a possibility to choose among multiple distributions, for example binomial, Poisson, Beta, and normal distributions. Allow the user then to choose the number of samples and the size of each sample. The code then generates draws from a given distribution and calculates sample means. The code should also visualize the result by showing a histogram of the sample means.

It worked, but the code in Bing, for some reason, can't be copied. I did the same with the basic version of GPT-4 via OpenAI and pasted the code to Google Colab. It works as intended. I remember coding this myself. It would take several hours. Now it is just a minute away.

I also tried more complex code. The first principle I found to work well is to write in normal language (rather than to try mathematical notation). Thus, instead of 2^n just write raise 2 to the power of n. The second one, and I think you mention it yourself somewhere, is to break the code into smaller chunks. But then some knowledge of coding may be required for successful assembly.

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Love this! Your examples of practical applications of AI are more thoughtful/useful than 90% of the writeups from other writers on AI that I come across these days.

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It's fantastic to hear that you've launched Wharton Interactive! I'd like to share a platform I've developed for learning Financial Mathematics called 21ifm (https://21ifm.com/). This platform enables educators to design interactive lessons tailored to students' interests, motivating them to engage with advanced concepts and take ownership of their learning.

By using personalized explainers, teachers can assign homework prior to the actual class lesson, as well as post-lesson assignments. Students can then incorporate their findings, their classmates' insights, and the teacher's guidance to complete a comprehensive project. This approach fosters a more immersive and collaborative learning experience.

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I think Bing's explanation of entropy using the analogy of a deck of cards is misleading. Bing states that the deck of cards is a closed system, and being such entropy can only remain the same or increase. However, there is an external agent shuffling the cards, and conceivably the deck can return to the same order which contradicts its own statement. This is obvious when you start with a smaller ordered set of objects.

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That is all well and good, but it doesn't address the real problem. The lack of standards in tracking and finding the best edtech. The lack of interoperability. Have millions or billions of people able to create educationally material on the fly is fine but you still have a data overload issue. What we need recommender and performance tracking systems so that learners can navigate this sea of materials. Because the real democratization is not going to be anyone being able to produce materials, it is going to be anyone being able to educate themselves with only tools and no educators. It is chat GPT as the teacher.

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Dear Ethan,

Thank you for the enlightening article on the transformative role of AI and EdTech in democratizing education, specifically the powerful capabilities of GPT-4. At Eureka Simulations, we share your enthusiasm for the impact these technologies can have on learning.

In our work, we've seen first-hand how simulations play an instrumental role in creating engaging, interactive learning environments, bringing theoretical concepts to life in an experiential way. Similar to the revolutionary leap you describe with AI, simulations enable learners to engage with complex ideas and scenarios, enhancing their understanding, and allowing them to tailor their learning journey to their needs and pace. They also provide educators with a powerful tool to deliver personalized, impactful education at scale.

Your emphasis on democratizing access to quality education echoes our mission. The power of AI, as demonstrated by GPT-4, combined with immersive simulations can significantly enhance the way we learn and teach, making quality education accessible and tailored to all, regardless of location, language, or background. It's an exciting time in education, and we are looking forward to contributing to this groundbreaking journey.


Joaquim Virgili

Founder, Eureka Simulations

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Great read, Ethan. I just started a masters degree program in learning and technology, and your piece is very timely for some discussions I am having in the course about learning design and AI.

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Hmmm...well, my Chinese students come to high school from middle school, and by the time they arrive, they already know a very large part of AP Physics "in Chinese," although they need help with challenge problems and English. But you are going to have the "liquid group" stand in a blob and then have the kids run around. Entropy Musical Chairs, so to speak.

This is fine as a game, but it is not for middle schoolers, it is for children of around seven. The US education system doesn't teach squat in middle school. That's where the US falls behind the rest of the world. This is a good example of why.

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Hey Ethan, I'm trying to run my own version using Google's Bard. What notebook did you use to run visual code within it? Bard exports the code straight into Google Colab, but there's no visual graphics

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Hi Ethan, I’m doing a talk on this topic soon here in The Netherlands. Your input was more than helpful! Thanks a lot for sharing this! Jeroen Krouwels.

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