Technology can change the world in hands of the right Educator.

Educators & tech - My family journey

My son stood surveying the mini brand toys; with birthday money in his wallet, he declared, “These prices are outrageous!” disappointed his money wouldn’t go far as he liked. I reminded him that he had a choice on how to spend his money and left him to think. He stared at the price tag, then at the toy for a few minutes, and then moved on to find something he thought was worth his money.

I am grateful for overtly loud outburst, hearing his voice reminds me that I was told he could potentially never have conversations. But today, in the middle of a store, he expressed frustration, listened, and made his own decision without prompting. I am fortunate, between a dedication of outstanding educator and technology; he can communicate his feelings quite well, even if he isn’t keen on listening to others.

I am fortunate that apps like Endless Alphabet were around to teach my son his ABCs and the sounds of letters which in turn set his foundation for communication. It was a critical foundational element of his learning since he refused to interact with everyone, including me. It was sad and frustrating, but if I tried to sing the alphabet to him, it would lead to him running away while covering his ears,or on rare occasions, covering my mouth. But with an Ipad in hand, he had a world of possibilities open to him.

He could listen and interact with Endless Alphabet for hours, giggling when the letters joined other letters in bursts of color and chaos to neatly form words like “cake.” When his fingers touched the letter, it would make the letter sound. Sometimes he would even let me in on the fun, and we could touch the letters on the screen to allow the chaotic and noisy letter dance to begin. I can reflect and see how those moments reduced the stress and allowed us to bond.

Technology has always been a big part of my son’s life, but it was just one part of navigating his Education. The Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resource System, FDLRS, and my local public school Educators rose to the occasion when I was out of my depth. The educators listened, observed, and provided expert guidance that would eventually lead to a General Education path.

When one school acknowledged that they didn’t have the support he needed, they provided us with alternative options, which at the time felt wrong but was precisely what he needed.The school recommended program for students like my son that integrated assistive technology into their education curriculum and provided the therapies he needed to succeed. I can confidently say that the balance between educator and technology was and still is vital to his success.

Educators have been key to successful used of technology like IPads and Promethean boards in classrooms. Now there is ChatGPT a powerful Large Language Model (LLM) with incredible potential. Khan Academy, a leading education not for profit has already started working on Khanmigo, an AI tutor. I am hooping to use it with my son over summer, and I know that is just one way we are seeing Open AI being used. I am very excited to see where it all leads.

However, I am tempering my enthusiasm, I understand that potential could be used negatively as well. But we can't put the genie back in the bottle. Moving forward we will have to become socially responsible and be proactive about creating secure ethical development.

I am still more hopeful, than scared of OpenAI, But if does decide to go rogue, we will definitely have to ask our selves what we were teaching the LLMs?