Published: Dec. 8, 2022

iSAT faculty and postdocs came together from all over the country for a two day, in person meeting at CU Boulder at the end of September. The major goal of the event was to converge on designs for the AI Partner. The design of an AI Partner is a complex endeavor encompassing multiple components and perspectives as noted in Figure 1 below. iSAT has made progress toward these individual components by working within—and between—strands, however we are now at a critical juncture where we must come together and figure out how we will proceed with the design and implementation of the AI Partner.

To facilitate this, we prepared several short 1-2 page pre-reads on various pertinent topics including the current status of the design and implementation of the AI Partner, findings from the most recent Learning Futures Workshop, findings from interviews with teachers from the Teacher Advisory Board, student outcomes and assessments, potential AI capabilities, status of AI Partner technical development, and more. The meeting itself was a fantastic two days of brainstorming, discussion, and learning! The collaboration carried over well into the night when team members met for dinner, continuing to share their knowledge, ideas, and hopes for the AI Partner. 

A secondary goal of the meeting was to facilitate multidisciplinary integration and multiorganizational synergies across strands and institutions.


Figure 1: The processes in developing the AI Partner.


Building on our Metaphors

After our Design Sprint at the end of 2021, three new metaphors emerged that reflected what our researchers had learned after a year of data collection and analyzing that data. The Co-Pilot supports small group task progress & collaboration by providing guidance and facilitation. The Augmenter supports teachers in classroom orchestration by distilling information from small group collaborations. The Community Builder supports students in developing trusting collaborative relationships with each other, their teacher, and the AI Partner. Currently we have not added any additional metaphors and instead we used these two days to continue to refine and build upon the metaphors from the first Design Sprint.

The Design Convergence was an opportunity to connect as an institute and identify concrete next steps for our metaphors. The result was team members being able to pinpoint critical milestones and set a roadmap for implementing user-centered design and the various AI partner metaphors, embodiments, and interventions, including acceptance and usability testing. Throughout the two days, a major focus was on two new prototypes related to the metaphors, which are in development and will be implemented into the classroom curriculum in early 2023.

Design Convergence Presentation

The Design Convergence team discusses the technical infrastructure for the AI Partner.

One of the new designs, which is related to the Community Builder, is based on the Live, Love, Light concept which emerged from the students themselves during the last Learning Futures Workshop held in spring. The students visited a 70-person cooperative house to learn about collaboration in the real-world outside of the grammar of schooling. They were introduced to the concept of “Community Agreements”—in which house members collectively and interactively constructed norms for the group and how they work together and hold each other accountable. This shifts the discourse from “disciplining” youth to the youth thinking about accountability for their agreed upon norms. Building on this idea, the team is working on a version of the Community Builder metaphor that facilitates development/discussions around classroom agreements (e.g., being respectful, advancing thinking), uses AI-powered visualizations to identify and display indicators of these agreements at the classroom level, and then uses explainable AI techniques to facilitate a discussion as to how the AI-identified agreements are aligned/misaligned with classroom developed agreements.

iSAT team members are currently working on a roadmap to get the Community Builder into the classrooms, which includes collaborating with our teacher advisory board to get their feedback and then to start testing version 1 in classrooms this winter and spring.

The second advancement is related to the Interactive Co-pilot metaphor. This addition will be embedded within the Jigsaw worksheet in lesson four of the Sensor Immersion curriculum and is tentatively referred to as the Planning Investigation Partner (PIP). PIP will engage in dialog with student groups, helping them with consensus building where they share and pool individual knowledge followed by creative ideation where they use the joint knowledge space to identify a pressing problem in their community. Our team is hard at work hammering out the details of logistics and implementation. The next couple of months should bring measurable progress toward integrating this new Partner into the Sensor Immersion curriculum and Professional Learning for the teachers who will be using it. 

DesignConvergence Team

A motivated Design Convergence team after two days of productive brainstorming and collaboration!

Our team members continue to keep convergence at the forefront of every project and are already looking forward to the next event!