Hands on With AI

I’m offering a workshop for educational leaders at AI Empowered EDU conference at the University of Portland on May 14. My session is called “Hands on with AI.”

I created this website to support the workshop.

The site gives tips on how to create prompts, best AI assistants, and sample prompts. The prompt library offers sample prompts useful for students, teacher and educational leaders.

It also includes an excellent how-to videos.

Here’s the workshop agenda.

Are you curious about the potential of artificial intelligence in education? Join our interactive workshop to explore how AI can enhance teaching and learning.
Visit the LLMs Page to see suggested AI assistants.

Hands-On Exploration: Bring your own laptop and dive into practical activities. Collaborate with fellow participants in small groups as we explore AI tools and applications.
– Use Cases: Discover real-world examples of AI from the perspective of student, teacher and administrator. You’ll explore prompts and scenarios that improve efficiency, spark creativity and enhance problem-solving.
– Tool Showcase: The session will feature custom website that showcases AI tools and methods relevant to education.

AI-created featured image above

When Google Couldn’t Help: How AI Helped Me Track Down an Elusive Image

George Tooker's "Government Bureau" (1956)

Recently I found myself in a situation where “Googling” was useless. I was trying to recall a work of art without knowing the artist, title, or country of origin.

Note: At some point in my life, I had seen George Tooker’s “Government Bureau” (1956) – a striking image (above) that had burrowed into my memory. But I lacked the descriptors that would work in a traditional text-based search.

Armed with nothing but a vague sense of the era and the artwork’s elusive “feel,” I turned to Meta AI for assistance. What followed was a bit magical—a journey through memory cubicles that led me to the masterpiece I sought.

It began with this prompt

You’ll notice that my prompt tells Meta AI “who it is.” That’s a critical step in getting any AI to approach the task from a more specified perspective.

Next, I outlined the Q and A process we would use. This was essential, since I wanted the AI to ask follow up questions to narrow in on a solution. For fun, I gave it a bit personality – “genial and collaborative.” Also note that I incorrectly say it’s a black and white image.

Here’s a screenshots of Meta AI’s first response- the questions were logical – style, time period and where I might have seen it.

My response gave a date range but really focused on how the “feel” of the image in my memory – I said “Eastern European Kafka-esque bureaucratic workplace.”

In its second response, Meta AI noted my “Kafka-esque vibe” (a clever rephrasing). It pointed me to artists like Grosz and Dix. (I checked those artists and didn’t see any possibilities) And it posed a few more questions on how I remembered the faces and tone.

The best I could recall about the faces was they were blank and fearful. I added that the faces were “realistic with an overlay of artistic enhancement.” (Not the best description I’ve ever crafted.)

By Meta AI’s third response, it had correctly identified Tooker as a possibility.

I suddenly remembered the artist and asked to see some samples. Meta AI then pointed me to Google search of Tooker works (below) and there it was in upper left.

I was so impressed, I congratulated Meta AI for solving my query in such short order. It seemed like the thing to do. After some pleasantries, we signed off.

Comparing AIs

After this success with Meta AI, I thought I’d try the same prompt with other leading AIs. Note: I pretended not to know the answer and kept my responses limited to just the information I gave to Meta AI on the first run.

I was using the free versions. Here’s how they compared:

  • Meta AI (above)- Identified artist in 3rd response and linked to “Government Bureau” in 4th.
  • Microsoft CoPilot – Identified artist and suggested it might be “Government Bureau” in 3rd response.
  • Anthropic Claude – On it’s 9th response, it mentions Tooker but hallucinated a title he did not create.
  • Google Gemini – Keeps suggesting artists and on 6th response, it gave up and wished me luck.
  • Perplexity – gives up after 5th response. (But it did begin with a fun opening response: “clears throat and adjusts monocle. Ah, I believe I may know the work you are describing, my dear fellow! Let me ask you a few questions to jog your memory”
  • ChatGPT 3.5 – patiently guessed artists and styles. But I quit after 11th response when its suggestions began to drift off track.

Here’s why AI beats a traditional search engine in this use case:

A traditional search engine like Google relies heavily on keywords and metadata. When you search for an image, it looks for matches based on text associated with images across the web, such as titles, descriptions, tags, and other textual content. This means you need to have some specific information or keywords related to the image to start your search.

AI-driven image retrieval systems use machine learning algorithms to understand the content of the images themselves. They can analyze visual elements such as color, shape, texture, and even abstract concepts like the emotion an image might evoke. This allows them to find matches based on visual similarity rather than relying solely on text descriptors.

This process is often referred to as content-based image retrieval (CBIR), which is a feature of AI that can search and retrieve images from large data sets based on user-generated cues, even if they are as abstract as feelings or vague visual recollections.

So, if you’re using AI for this purpose, you don’t necessarily need to know specific details about the artwork. You can provide a description of what you remember, and the AI can interpret that description to find images that are visually similar to what you’re describing. It’s a more intuitive process that mimics the way humans might try to find something based on vague recollections, rather than the precise keyword matching used by traditional search engines

Getting Started with the AI Toolkit

AI-generated with Lexica. I used prompt: “A steampunk tool box in a mysterious setting

I’ve been exploring AI use for teachers and students for the past view months. I recently was interviewed by Aaron Maurer for his educator’s podcast “Peter Pappas And How AI Is Challenging Educators To Rethink Practices Of Teaching And Learning

Listen on Apple Podcast

Listen on Spotify

Here’s an AI Toolkit that I designed to assist students and teachers with integrating AI into teaching and learning. This is reposted from my course website: EdTechMethods

Since the recent launch of ChatGPT – Artificial intelligence (AI) tools are in the news. Here’s a brief list of AI tools and resources. All are free (or have free intro promotions). We will be integrating them into our course over the semester.

OUr Course AI Policy

You are free to use AI tools in this course for your weekly assignments. Some assignments – like this week’s – will require it. You are free to use AI in creative ways. But be sure to always site AI use as noted in #1 below. See my example at the end of this page.

Be aware of the limits of ChatGPT and other text generating apps:

  1. AI is a tool, but one that you need to acknowledge using. Please include a paragraph at the end of any assignment that uses AI explaining what you used AI for and what prompts you used to get the results. Failure to do so is in violation of academic honesty policies.
  2. If you provide minimum effort prompts, you will get low quality results.
  3. You will need to refine your prompts in order to get good outcomes. This will take work.
  4. Don’t trust anything it says. If it gives you a number or fact, assume it is wrong unless you either know the answer or can check in with another source. You will be responsible for any errors or omissions provided by the tool. It works best for topics you understand.
  5. Be thoughtful about when this tool is useful. Don’t use it if it isn’t appropriate for the case or circumstance.
  6. AI is a tool. It is not always the right tool. Consider carefully whether, given its weaknesses, it is right for the purpose to which you are planning to apply it.
  7. There are many ethical concerns you need to be aware of. AI can be used to infringe on copyright, or to cheat, or to steal the work of others, or to manipulate. And how a particular AI model is built and who benefits from its use are often complex issues, and not particularly clear at this stage. Ultimately, you are responsible for using these tools in an ethical manner. Be transparent about how you use AI, and take responsibility for the output you create ~ adapted from Ethan Mollick

Start Here: How to use AI to do Practical Stuff: A New Guide

And  Seven Ways of Using AI in Class
writing Tools – type in prompt / get a text response
  • Access GPT4 without a key or invitation on Hugging Face. | Link
  • ChatGPT | Link. First create an OpenAI account to log in (registration may require a phone number)
  • Best option if ChatGPT is down, use  OpenAI Playground
  • Perplexity | Link Better at looking information up than generating new ideas. But shows sources and lets you edit them out or add new sources. [Click 3 dots in upper right of the response.]
How to Create writing Prompts
AI Plagiarism Detectors
  • GPTZero. Built for educators. Paste in text and see if its created by AI | Link
  • GPT-2 Output Detector – Paste in text and see if its created by AI | Link

image Tools – Type in descriptors (or upload image) / get an image response
  • Lexica | Link Requires sign up (my favorite of this group)
  • DALL-E | Link Requires sign up
  • Midjourney | A powerful image generator on Discord. Link to QuickStart guide
  • Image Maker | Link Free to use Stable Diffusion-powered text to image generator
  • Karlo Generator| Link Can be a bit wonky and only produces low resolution images, but no sign up needed.
  • Image Mixer | Link Combine multiple images into one. No sign up needed
How to Create Image Prompts
  • How to use AI image prompts to generate art (this post references Microsoft Designer, but tips work with all image generators) | Link to article
  • DALLE-E Prompt Book | Link

Audio / Video Tools
  • AssemblyAI – extract transcription, summary or topic detection from a video | Link
  • Google Speech-to-Text | Link | Free sign up
  • Google Text-to-Speech | Link | Free sign up

AI note for this page: I elected to use AI to generate a featured image for this page. Thought it would be proof of concept. I used Lexica and this prompt: “A steampunk tool box in a mysterious setting.” It took me a number of tries to add descriptor prompts to get something I wanted. The final image included some elements that make no sense – what’s the “screen” at right and cables in foreground? Mysterious?

Our first AI Lesson

Mapping Inequality: Exploring Personal History in Redline Maps and the 1940 Census

Designing Inequality

The Detroit Eight Mile Wall is a one-foot-thick , six-foot-high  separation wall that stretches about 12 mile. It was constructed in 1941 to physically separate Black and white homeowners on the sole basis of race. The wall no longer serves to racially segregate homeowners and, as of 1971, both sides of the barrier have been predominately Black. Photo by John Vachon / Library of Congress

This is repost of a lesson I did in my social studies methods class at University of Portland. It explored the largely forgotten government policies that segregated nearly every major American city and metro area. We also looked at how those unconstitutional actions fostered inequality in America since their enactment in the 1930s.

Scroll down for student projects.

In preparation for this class,
students watched the video Segregated by Design.

class session – via Zoom

Class opened with the brief film Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History. I then put students into breakout groups and (using a Jamboard) they created mind maps of the legacy of redlined neighborhoods based on what they had seen in the two introductory videos. They brainstormed and developed visual comparisons that explored multiple factors such as – income, wealth, health, schools, policing, services, employment, environment.

Next I introduced the tools they would use for the lesson – digitized version of  1940 US Census and the website Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America . Mapping Inequality allows the user to explore the “redline” maps created by agents of the federal government’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) between 1935 and 1940. The maps are displayed over contemporary maps that make it easy to view where redline districts are today.

HOLC Map of Portland Or See interactive map here.

Next I took them to the the 1940 US Census and showed them how to look up street addresses and navigate to specific neighborhoods. I shared census pages from some Portland neighborhoods.

Sample “Best” and “Hazardous” neighborhoods

Best” A7 Arlington Heights District- Census page from 229 SW Wright Ave. in A7 | 229 SW Wright Today

Clarifying Remarks from HOLC map: Deed restrictions have expired but single-family residential zoning and topography give ample protection. Infiltration of Subversive Races is remote. Foreign-born families: 0% Negro: none. Residents: Executives, business and professional men, retired capitalists, etc.

Hazardous” D8 Southwest River District – Census page from 931 SW 1st Ave in Portland in D8. | Rooming house torn down. 931 SW 1st is now the World Trade Center

Clarifying Remarks from HOLC map: This is distinctly a workingmen’s rental district and approximately half of the population being employed in the industrial plants along the river.
Infiltration of Subversive Races has occurred. Foreign-born families 35%; Orientals 750 Chinese, 250 Japanese, 35 Filipinos, Negro 30%

How to search in Census of 1940

Note: it helps to refer to Blank 1940 Census form showing categories

You will “search by location where the person lived.” Begin by narrow search by state, county, city, street. 

After you click search, you have the option to add a cross street. 

It will take you to multipage document that may not exactly zero in on the intersection you wanted. You may need to scroll through some pages to get to that location. You can find the streets and house numbers on far left. (Street written vertically) 

The assignment

I wanted the student to draw a personal connection between the HOLC categories (best, still desirable, definitely declining and hazardous) and the data from the 1940 census. To demonstrate, I shared my mother’s family entry from 1940 census then showed that my grandparents and family were living in a HOLC designated “Definitely Declining” neighborhood. I shared some family photos of the house and neighborhood. Then we looked at the family home value in 1940 and shared how the neighborhood had steadily declined to the point that the home today is currently valued at less than one-half of the inflation-adjusted value listed in the 1940 census.

I knew that not all students would be able to find a family listing in the census nor might they ever have lived in a city mapped by HOLC. So I left the final product very open ended and invited them to make connections that worked for them.

Sample student work

A number of students were able to find family members on the census and family home in the HOLC maps

A few students focused on the history of homes they lived in.

Some students looked how the HOLC influenced residential options for immigrant groups

Others looked at redlining’s impact on property values and neighborhood development

Teach with Alternative Histories

First off – big shoutout to Jamie Clark – A talented educator to follow on Twitter @XpatEducator. See his collection of Teaching & Learning Resources. (Lots of great free downloadable templates.). I used one of his templates as the basis for this lesson

Here is a repost of the lesson I assigned my University of Portland pre-service teachers. Original here.

In honor of the historic nature of the 2020 election, students will have the opportunity to explore historical turning points and their own creativity by designing an alternative history. Students should have fun with this. It could be set in any era or region of the world. 

You should embed the slide show in a post. Include at least an explanation on why you feel this event was a historical turning point. 

Click here to make a copy and then modify.

Student Work from this assignment.

I got very positive feedback from students who really enjoyed this lesson. They also thought it could be easily expanded so that students had to defend their alt histories. Another ideas was for the teacher to assign everyone the same real events and let students focus on creating and defending their own alt histories.

Here’s a few of the alt histories my students created.


  1. Once you have finished slide show. Set Share to “Anyone with a link can view.”
  2. On toolbar click “File/Publish to web.”
  3. Click on embed
  4. Set “auto-advance” to every minute. (That will give viewer chance to navigate.)
  5. Click publish and you will get embed code to use with HTML Snippets.

Featured image by Jon Tyson on Unsplash