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Visiting Professor Brandt Redd Gives Opening Keynote Speech at ICALT Conference

Brandt Redd

More and more new technology is introduced into our lives each year. AI keeps getting better, and more information is available to us than ever before. The way we socialize online, administer medical care, and even the way we grow our food are also changing rapidly as new technologies are introduced. It’s easy to look at new advancements in technology and say, “This changes everything.” So, what doesn’t new technology, specifically AI, change?  

This is the question that visiting BYU Professor, Brandt Redd, addressed in his opening keynote speech at the International Conference on Advanced Learning Technology this past Monday. The conference, known as ICALT, has been held in countries such as Romania and Estonia in the past, but this year it was held closer to home—in Orem, Utah.  

His presentation, “Things AI Doesn’t Change about Learning,” offers a fresh perspective into how AI and language models such as ChatGPT can supplement the learning process, but that there are many things it does not change about how humans learn, such as the need for practice to understand something and finding intrinsic motivation to achieve mastery. Despite advancing technology, the core principles of learning remain the same, and understanding how humans learn can help us find the best ways to harness technology in the learning process.  

We have already seen how new technology can supplement the learning process. Learning technologies such as Kahoot!, Google Classroom, and virtual field trips have supplemented classroom learning for years now, and Learning Management Systems such as Learning Suite and Canvas facilitated distance learning during COVID-19.  

New technologies such as these can be useful in facilitating growth in understanding by providing more learning experiences specifically tailored to the students' needs. Professor Redd shared in his presentation how research has shown that it takes most people seven or eight learning experiences to understand a concept. Learning technologies can provide feedback to students much more quickly than a teacher usually can, which helps students catch their mistakes early and makes these learning experiences more effective.  

For these learning experiences to be successful, students must have the motivation within themselves to try. Professor Redd shared how AI and other learning technologies can be used to adapt learning to individual needs. For example, reviewing specific problem areas for the student in creative ways can be much more engaging than traditional methods. Professor Redd suggests that rather than dictating the learning path, AI should inform students about the suggested learning progression and provide the tools to learn while allowing the student to decide what activities will help them best. This type of approach motivates students to take ownership of their learning and make informed decisions to suit their needs.  

With more AI widely available, educators must be vigilant in creating curriculum that provides students with engaging learning opportunities while taking advantage of the technology available to supplement the learning process.