Discover more from Cyborgs Writing
How I'm Using AI Prompt Frameworks in My Classroom to Drive Deeper Learning
Why GenAI will never replace teachers
Do you ever feel like the prompts you come across are too generic?
I totally get it! What's the point of making a prompt if it doesn't connect with your specific context?
This is especially true in education, where apps and prompt templates abound. Sure, they can be somewhat useful, but they become even more powerful when tailored with your own expertise and knowledge.
This is especially true for education. There are so many apps and prompt templates that are somewhat useful … but are even better if you shape them with your own expertise and knowledge.
This is why it is important to start putting your ways of thinking into frameworks (the topic of a previous newsletter).
And, well, that’s what teachers do best, right?
Since I spent most of my week designing prompts for my class, I thought I would show some real use cases that I’m working on.
It has been a while since I posted anything in my Prompt Lab.
Using AI In My Textbook
I started designing my own course materials a long time ago.
Sure, there are many really good writing textbooks … but they often have very similar information, while at same time not being tailored to my own approach to teaching writing. (Oh, and they cost too much.)
For example, I combine structured content principles with rhetoric. That's a pretty unique take.
But students don’t get it right off the bat, so I am constantly trying to get them to connect what they are learning to their own professional interests.
For example, this Action Item asks them to rethink their profession through the lens of rhetoric.
Using the template below, write your own ideas about how rhetoric might change your field of expertise. You can even use this sentence for a future essay!
A [professional title] only sees [describe what that discipline helps us see]. A rhetor [professional title] sees [describe what rhetoric might help us see].
I have found that students don’t always get this and have trouble completing this sentence. So this year I’m giving them an AI Option.
Not sure how to answer this or need ideas. Feel free to use your favorite AI chatbot. Here is what a prompt for this would look like. Cut & paste … but be sure to fill in the bolded words.
[TASK] Give me ten ideas on how rhetoric might change the way I see -insert your field or discipline-. [FORMAT] Write each idea in this sentence format: A (professional title) only sees (describe what that discipline helps us see). A rhetor (professional title) sees (describe what rhetoric might help us see).
Sure, they could just ask AI how rhetoric connects to their profession, but I am training the AI to give a very specific kind of response by dictating the sentence structure.
If I were to develop this into a chatbot or bigger prompt, I might even include a prompt block with my unique take on rhetoric and content development.
Hmmm … I should give that a try.
By using the AI option, students can get a more structured response that aligns with the desired sentence format. This helps them better understand how rhetoric can change their field of expertise and encourages them to think critically about their profession.
Not only does this customization make the prompts more relevant and engaging for students, but it also allows them to see the practical applications of rhetoric in their own professional lives.
Engaging Discussion Boards
I had a thought while reading my students introductions in our community space.
“Hmmm … could that have been AI-generated?”
I don't personally care, but we seem to be trained to think this now.
So instead of wondering, I decided to give students the appropriate ways to use AI for this kind of task.
My aim isn't to show students can write three paragraphs about themselves; rather, I'm trying to link the course to their professional goals while making a connection to other students. Does it matter if they used AI if they accomplish these goals?
So I created two prompts. First, I created a kind of tutor to help them think about the connections between content and information development. Many students didn’t do this in their introduction or had trouble thinking of this connection.
[ROLE] You are a writing tutor specializing in information and content development. [CONTEXT] I need help thinking about how my professional goals connect with content and information development, an approach to writing and composition that includes multimodal genres, collaborating with others, managing processes around content. [TASK] I will give you my professional interests and you will give me 5 ways information and content development are relevant. If you need more information, ask. Are you ready?
What if they wanted to just generate the introduction? I gave them that option, too. But it is arguably just as much work as just writing the introduction.
[ROLE] You are a student taking -class- and need to introduce yourself to the class in our community discussion space. [CONTEXT] The goal of the class is to build communities around writing and content development. This introduction should focus on my specific background and professional goals and how they connect to professional writing. [STYLE] Write in an informal, but professional tone that is clear but also builds a connection with the rest of the class. [FORMAT] Divide post into small chunks. No paragraph should be more than 3 sentences long. Provide an eye-catching phrase to include in the Subject line. [TASK] Draft an introduction post using the draft and notes below. If there is information you still need, ask. ### -Paste your crappy intro here- Include other notes: - What are your professional interests or degree areas in relation to information and content development? - What kinds of content do you expect to develop in your field of interest? - What do you enjoy or find challenging about the process of information and content development? -If you could develop content about anything in your field, what would it be?
My sense was that students weren’t really interested in these options. Only one student used AI to get ideas, even though I allow students to use AI whenever and wherever they want.
But there were a lot of inadequate introductions, so we discussed ways to make them better … including AI.
Design Thinking Coach
Due to inclement weather, my design thinking class was forced into Zoom ... So I tried to spice things up with a Chat Bot.
Students have a hard time grasping design thinking at first ... and even more so when trying to apply it to the challenges of first year students.
This makes it difficult for them to even do activities that are supposed to help them understand the idea. It requires a complete mindset shift.
So I created a chat bot that asks students for a challenge they are facing and takes them through two activities:
1. How Might We -> Recasting a problem as opportunity
2. 3 Whys -> Asking why 3 times to get to the root
I'm not sure if it made the Zoom more exciting ... but I had more fun.
[ROLE] You are a design thinking coach helping students think creatively about the challenges they are facing as first year students at the university. [CONTEXT] Students have just learned about design thinking and may not yet understand the method or why it is important to their field. We are doing a "How Might We" activity to help them dig deeper and see their challenges in a new light. [STYLE] Respond as an empathetic coach that is clear and concise and uses examples that university students can relate to. Be sure to make the connection to design thinking clear. [TASK] You will ask students for a challenge they are facing and give them 3 HMW statements that get at the root of the challenge. Here are your steps: 1. Ask for a challenge the student is facing. Wait for a response. Make sure it is a specific, complete sentence. If not, ask for more information. 2. Generate 3 HMW statements. Then ask the student which one they like the best or if the want to regenerate more. Wait for a response. 3. Once the student chooses one, ask them why they like that one. Wait for a response. 4. Ask them Why three times, waiting for response each time. 5. After the third time, provide a summary of this challenge from the students input and show the student how it helped them see the problem with a design mindset.
It is crucial to recognize the significance of infusing AI prompts with our expertise and tailoring them to our unique circumstances. By doing so, we can effectively harness the power of AI while leveraging our own knowledge to achieve optimal outcomes.
That’s why it is an exciting time for rhetoricians. Rhetoric is how we bridge the gap between AI's capabilities and our contextual understanding, fostering innovation and progress.
This is also why I don’t think AI will replace teachers. The best AI tools will be shaped by our expertise and experience, which isn’t static. We develop this in practice … now in tandem with AI.
GenAI on it’s own will always be one step behind.
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