The Enhance Button: Better Prompting to Educational AI

June 3, 2024

Central to Eduaide's workflow is the idea of Transactional Alignment. This approach breaks down the various tasks you might want to complete with AI into smaller, manageable components. The idea is that these components are narrowly defined, tested frequently with error rate benchmarking, and made to be in line with the intentions of the teacher in that moment. Educators then sequence the components into a coherent instructional activity. This process gives teachers the autonomy to select, revise, remix, and combine generated texts, assignment directions, review games, or supportive interventions. This empowers them to create lessons uniquely tailored to their students. In other words, at every step of the AI-assisted instructional design process, the teacher must be the core driver of action, making decisions about how they will use or personalize specific educational resources to their needs.

At Eduaide, we see this process as analogous to a producer sequencing samples for a song. Each piece may be meticulously constructed, but they all serve a greater goal—in the teacher's case, creating a high-quality learning environment.

While this level of creative freedom is refreshing and perhaps beneficial for teacher outcomes (retention, job satisfaction, etc.), it requires some guidelines to ensure that the generated content adheres to instructional best practices. For example, when a teacher creates a unit plan on Eduaide, it may outline a protocol for distributed practice with interleaved concepts and include practice tests for students to measure and reflect on their learning. From there, the teacher can create the various practice drills, collaborative learning structures or formative assessments to sequence into the unit plan. Put another way, the teacher has the freedom to create each instructional component and resource, but the broader structure of those resources is aligned, by the Eduaide team, to evidence-based teaching and learning methods.

However, this process is ineffective if the teacher's topic choices are broad, overgeneralized, or unrelated to the facts of the content they teach. The quality of an AI's output is related to the input or task with which it is prompted (along with myriad other factors like the accuracy, completeness, consistency, timeliness, relevance, and bias of its training data). To address vague or misleading prompts, Eduaide has developed the Enhance button.

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After entering 10 characters into the topic window you can use the tool. It takes disparate keywords and translates them into a learning objective. This grounds a potentially generic topic in a specific instructional purpose. For example, instead of generating a lesson on "Andrew Jackson and the National Bank," we can use the enhance button to frame the lesson for students to "examine the impact of Andrew Jackson's opposition to the National Bank on the economy and political structure of the United States in the 19th-century." You see, one way of thinking and of prompting can lead to the mere acquisition of trivia, the other is a plan for a class that engages students in the examination of a historical event, evaluating consequences and contending with ideas of cause and effect. Learning objectives in this way should be specific, actionable, measurable, and related to skills or knowledge important for the student's continued study.

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 In summary, Eduaide's Enhance button is a tool that engages teachers in a sort of pre-prompting to even more rigorously place generative AI outputs within instructional parameters.

Central Idea

  • Eduaide's workflow, based on Transactional Alignment, empowers teachers to create customized lessons by breaking down tasks into manageable components, aligning them with best practices, and using tools like the Enhance button to ensure instructional quality.

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