Keynote 2023 - Aimée Morrison

Everything I Need to Know About ChatGPT, I Learned From My Students

Thursday, May 4, 2023
12:30pm - 1:45pm MDT
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) 2-190

But not in the way that you think. Twenty years of reverse engineering my first-year writing students' (mis)understanding of what “writing” is so that they can repair their relationships to written communication have equipped me pretty well to argue for the deep humanity of writing, the vulnerability it requires and the joy of connection it offers. I have learned that the things that excite me most about student writing are exactly those qualities most of my students have learned to strip out from their writing: voice, quirk, passion, ambition, surprise. All along, they have been learning how to write as if they were each machines. And of course generative AI does that better, reliably producing safe, grammatical, five paragraph, balanced, insipid prose. Perhaps the ChatGPT crisis is simply this: we need to rethink our drive to teach writing as primarily conformity to a set of rules, and remember that writing was always human, interpersonal, connected.

The 2023 FoTL Closing Keynote is being held jointly with ACURIT 2023.

We were unable to record Dr. Morrison’s Keynote, but she shared during it that she was turning it into an article for publication, and here’s that article! “Meta-Writing: AI and Writing” (Composition Studies, Spring 2023, 51.1)

Aimée Morrison

Aimée Morrison is an Associate Professor in English at the University of Waterloo, where she teaches media theory and history, digital and social media, and an awful lot of first-year writing to Math and CS students, whom she regales with tales of her PhD work on the history of personal computing at the University of Alberta, and especially with the way she managed to finagle herself into being the first doctoral candidate in U of A Arts to have French and Java Programming Language listed on her transcript as her required languages. Yes, Aimée spent six years at the U of A, participating in the founding of the Humanities Computing MA program, acting as the program’s first instructor on Electronic Text, and spending her off hours building web sites for professors for the Faculty of Arts. She spent one year as a postdoctoral fellow with the Orlando Project, wrestling with complicated semantic and structural SGML markup as well as user interfaces. She has been expressing profound skepticism about big data since 1998. Then as now, she farts around on the internet for a living, and can frequently be heard on local and national media explaining tech culture from a humanities perspective.

Aimée Morrison biographical photo.  Aimée Morrison is Associate Professor in English at the University of Waterloo