Media Literacy Roundup: 6 Nov 2023
Weekly links and ideas from Wes Fryer
Well I’m a day late but hopefully not “a dollar short” for sending out a Sunday “Media Literacy Roundup” this week. It’s Monday night! Please forgive me! Here are some notable links and topics from the past week:
Visualizing Our Mars Colony (with AI)
AI Helps Sunday School Lesson Planning
Mammoth (app) for Mastodon
Updated Sketchnoting Unit / Lessons
Videoconference Background Videos!
Troubleshooting IT Server Issues with Bard
AI Fail: Ordering Survey Results
1. Visualizing Our Mars Colony (with AI)
I’m continuing to document my daily weekday uses of AI on this Google Doc. In addition to ChatGPT I’m using Claude.ai as well as (less frequently) Google’s Bard. I’m only paying for ChatGPT so I can access its advanced 4.0 model, including generative image capabilities via DAL-E 3. This past week I used ChatGPT 4 and DAL-E 3 to create a pretty remarkable series of images of what a future NASA colony or base on Mars might look like.
I shared these images in a Flickr album, but also built this pretty spiffy webpage using the “new” Adobe Express. In addition to Canva.com’s webpage creation tool, this semester I’m teaching my middle school web design students to create webpages with Adobe Express as well as Google Sites. (My how-to tutorial videos on Google Sites are collected on my lessons website.)
Unfortunately it’s not possible to get ChatGPT to create a “share link” of a chat conversation when you create images with DAL-E 3. So, I copied my chat conversations used to create these AMAZING images, and put them in a Google Doc. This is also documented in my main, ongoing “AI Tips and Tricks” doc.
One of the keys to the quality of these images, I theorize, is that I (with help from my students) specified the different kinds of buildings a base or colony on Mars will have. I was fascinated, however, that I could NOT get ChatGPT 4 / DAL-E 3 to put protective dome covers over all the agricultural fields. I tried four or five times to no avail. (That’s documented in the Google Doc.)
So while generative AI is amazing, it’s also weird and at times, frustrating, when it won’t or can’t comply with reasonable requests like this.
We ARE dealing with “an alien intelligence” here, folks. I’m convinced in some ways, it’s already smarter than me. But in many others, not yet…
2. AI Helps Sunday School Lesson Planning
Back in September I wrote a blog post you can check out for full details about this, “AI Helps Sunday School Lesson Planning.” Here’s the first paragraph as a preview and enticement to read the entire post:
Here’s a link to a shared Google Drive folder where I’ve shared the 4 chapter study guides I’ve created so far with the methods described in this post. It’s pretty amazing, and the quality of the writing is very “on point.” My prompts each week are variations of this:
Our Sunday School class is continuing to read and engage in chapter study of the attached book (in PDF format), “Grace Can Lead Us Home: A Christian Call to End Homelessness” by Kevin Nye. We will be discussing Chapter 7 next week. Please provide the following:
A concise summary of chapter 7 of the book, written in paragraph form.
The main ideas included in chapter 7 of the book.
10 to 20 vocabulary terms mentioned in Chapter 7 of the book, followed (respectively) by their definitions
A list of 10 discussion questions based on chapter 7 of the book, which will lead discussion participants to intersect, discuss and (hopefully) understand the main ideas of the chapter.
Can you please list five BIBLE VERSES shared in the Chapter, which address issues relating to Addiction and Recovery, or related themes of caring for others who struggle with addiction or related challenges?
It’s VERY cool to be able to create study guides like this for our class, and have AI do it with amazing speed and accuracy. There is NO WAY I would be creating these “by hand” without the assistance of AI at this point, given other demands on my attention and time.
This is a good example of how “AI can give us superpowers.”
3. Mammoth (app) for Mastodon
Of the 10 social media platforms I’m regularly using now to share and learn new ideas, Mastodon is my favorite as a potential “Twitter replacement.” (YouTube is the only one not included in the screenshot below.)
I’ve tried several different iOS apps as Mastodon clients, and my new favorite is Mammoth. It’s free and very “Twitter like,” especially in the way it provides ready access to Mastodon lists.
Unfortunately Mastodon does not (yet) provide public sharing of lists like Twitter does. I’ve spent HOURS in the past 16 years I’ve been a Twitter user building lists for different topics I’m interested in. Hopefully this is a feature the Mastodon community will continue to develop and build-out. You can access all my (still available) Twitter lists on twitter.com/wfryer/lists. Links to all my social media channels / profiles (including Threads, BlueSky, etc.) are available on www.wesfryer.com/after/. Making a website like that (an “After finding Wes website”) is another helpful thing I learned on my trip to Egypt back in 2017.
4. Updated Sketchnoting Unit / Lessons
I love to teach students sketchnoting, and I updated my unit and lesson series on Sketchnoting last week. Those updates include a new slideshow of Sketchnoting examples and basics, drawing heavily (with proper attribution, of course) from this amazing Sketchnoting introductory slideshow by Sylvia Duckworth, “Sketchnoting for Beginners.”
5. Videoconference Background Videos!
A few months ago on our “EdTech Situation Room” podcast and webshow, Jason Neiffer told me about XSplit VCam software. It allows users to put any public YouTube video behind them green-screen style when using videoconferencing software. I use it regularly with Zoom as well as StreamYard, which is the platform we use for our almost-weekly webshow and podcast, to live stream simultaneously to YouTube and Facebook.
I created a short YouTube playlist of 3 of my favorite video backgrounds to use now with XSplit VCam. These include a beautiful time lapse sequence from the International Space Station above our amazing, blue planet, as well as an aspirational cabin scene that sets the mood for the winter holidays perfectly for me.
6. Troubleshooting IT Server Issues with Bard
I’ve been using ChatGPT and Claude.AI the most for AI tasks the past few months, but this weekend I did some good work with Google’s AI platform, Bard. I’ve been having issues with my web server, and I asked Bard to analyze certain emails from my web host in my GMail account, and then help me figure out which of my domains (I still have about 30) might be causing the issue.
Bard ended up helping me identify a hacked web account with a “Cron job” that a hacker / bad actor had surreptitiously created on my server. Bard also helped me identify and delete a script the hacker was remotely executing, and then blacklist the control server they were using.
My “clean up” of my web server is not complete, but I’m absolutely THRILLED to be able to use Bard in this way to troubleshoot and fix malware issues like this. You can learn more about that Bard chat conversation in on my AI documentation Google Doc.
7. AI Fail: Ordering Survey Results
Amidst all the successes and “victories” using AI tools this past week for school / teaching as well as personal interests, I’ve also experienced some frustrations. One was today, I couldn’t get Claud.ai to accurately sort a list from a downloaded CSV (comma separated values) document from a Google Form / Google Sheet.
More details documentation about this “AI failure” is also available on my AI Tips GDoc.