New Era of Education - President's Note, February 2023

In the age of the internet the most effective leaders are skilled at creating questions to find the best answers through search engines. For advanced leaders, they have learned how to ask a question, see an internet answer, then hone their question over and over again to get the specific piece of knowledge they need. It is a totally different skill than what education has focused on prior to this point in history.

But along with the amazing opportunities of this new era of education, also come dangerous pitfalls. The facts you memorized in school can often be found faster on your phone than in your head. Most of us spent years of our life in classrooms learning how to write grammar perfect sentences. Yet today you can ask a question of Artificial Intelligence (AI) processes such as ChatGPT and get a perfectly spelled, grammatically excellent, APA7 formatted, beautifully written essay benefitting from an almost instantaneous search of 1000’s of websites. It is impressive to the point of shocking. Yet often in this beautiful essay there is something missing. A fact may be wrong. A hidden bias may be pervasive. Knowledge is presented without wisdom.

Universities are required to use a system called “Bloom’s Taxonomy” that guides learning outcomes in ascending levels from basic memorization of facts to advanced creative and complex thinking skills. BGU negotiated with our accreditation agency to approve a BGU-specific modified taxonomy. BGU adds two more levels at the top of the hierarchy called “wisdom” and “faith.”

If the rules don’t allow you to accomplish your mission, then come up with better rules that your authorities agree to.

Even with the advanced skills needed to use AI well, in the end, it is wisdom that identifies what is missing in the best AI. Proverbs 9:10 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Fear in this context includes respect, desire to obey and acknowledgement of God as our Creator and Lord.

So, do we continue to educate people on what AI software can often do better? Or do we take advantage of what AI can do and spend our time now educating people on what AI cannot do?

BGU encourages the open use of software and AI in appropriate ways. It can be an equalizer for the 70% of our students who don’t live in North America, many of whom English is not their first language. More importantly it provides more time and energy to focus on what software and AI can never do:

Wisdom; Faith; Innovation; Spiritual Formation; Humility; Truth; Love.

As followers of Jesus in a world connected in unprecedented ways by technology, our task is to lead culture by learning the technology at the highest level. We need to learn how to lead the world in honing questions to make AI most effective. More importantly we then need to do what only Jesus followers can do … subordinate the answers we find to wisdom and faith.

Brad Smith