The Robots Are Here: Implications of Large Language Models for Educational Tool Design

Associate Professor Paul Denny, University of Auckland
Chaired by
Dr Suranga Chandima NANAYAKKARA, Associate Professor, School of Computing

11 Apr 2023 Tuesday, 02:00 PM to 03:00 PM

SR2, COM1-02-04 and Zoom (Hybrid mode)

Recent breakthroughs in deep learning have led to the emergence of large language models (LLMs) that exhibit extraordinary performance at generating novel human-like content, including text, images and source code. It appears certain that such models will have a profound effect on educational practice and the development of tools for supporting student learning. For example, in the computing classroom, novices learning to code can use free tools to automatically suggest solutions to programming exercises and assignments. However, current tools were not designed with novices in mind, and little is known about how novices will interact with them in practice. Collaborative pedagogical approaches, which have previously been evaluated using an HCI lens, also look set for disruption. In this talk, we will present recent findings from work exploring the impact of LLMs in computing education, consider design implications for educational tools, and propose how LLMs can be leveraged to improve existing learning activities.

Dr Paul Denny is an Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of Auckland. His research interests include developing and evaluating tools for supporting collaborative learning, particularly involving student-generated resources, and exploring the ways that students engage with digital learning environments. One of his projects, PeerWise, hosts more than six million practice questions produced by students from 90 countries. Paul is currently Chair of the Australasian ACM SIGCSE Chapter, and is co-leading an international working group on large language models in education (ITiCSE 2023). He has been recognized for contributions to teaching both nationally and internationally, receiving New Zealand's National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award (2009), the Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching (2010), and the QS Reimagine Education Overall Award (2018).