Three clusters of technological innovation have defined the evolution of the Web: search, social, and smart. We are at a watershed moment in which human agency and human intelligence are being challenged to navigate new frontiers. Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) opens so many possibilities and is the innovation that is disrupting the search mindset most of all. Search is of course powerful, but it has also been the ‘fast food paradigm of inquiry’ and arguably dumbing us down. Because it functions best with keywords and phrases, search abbreviates questioning But in doing so, the nuancing power of dialog has been sidelined.
While there are compeling reasons to think that the ‘magic” of GenAl is experienced in terms of content generation, the core theme in this webinar is the dialogic power of conversational agents for learning and teaching with prompt engineering providing the segue from search into dialog – a shift from information to explanation. With dialog, we also get to work with questioning, with reasoning, and with plausibility. Twentieth century understandings of critical thinking will need to be recalibrated.
In teaching and learning content still matters, as does context and community. Communication and dialog connect all three. Glib statements from educators that ‘pedagogy must always lead’ or that ‘technology is just a tool’ no longer cut it. So ‘let’s get questioning’.
When is a good question? Why might ambiguity matter? What does it mean to examine? What human-machine synergies might co-produce the smarts we need to save us from ourselves?
Dr Jon Mason is an Associate Professor in Education at Charles Darwin University in Australia. He has also participated in international standardization for over two decades and in 2022 he was appointed chair of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC36 (IT standards forlearning, education, and training). He is an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Asia Pacific Society for Computers in Education, and he serves on several journal editorial boards. His research encompasses most things where digital technology and learning intersect with a keen interest in question formulation, sense-making, artificial intelligence, and the role of wisdom in education.