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Advancing meaningful learning in the age of AI

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How Oregon State Ecampus revisited Bloom’s Taxonomy to help educators navigate the increasing prevalence of AI tools

By Elena Moffet

If you’re an educator working today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the deluge of hype and information around generative artificial intelligence tools.

But doing nothing, of course, isn’t an option either.

“This is the future,” says Katherine McAlvage, associate director of faculty development and support at Oregon State University Ecampus. “Students have these tools in their pockets now. So what does that mean?” 

For McAlvage, the answer isn’t necessarily simple, but it is reality — we must adapt.

McAlvage is a member of Oregon State Ecampus’ AI council, an interdisciplinary team that launched this summer to investigate AI tools and better understand their impact on education.

“Our group read deeply about the educational implications of AI, and it quickly became clear to us that it’s really hard for faculty members to condense all of this information and apply it to their course,” McAlvage says.

The sub-group that McAlvage led, which included co-contributors Cub Kahn, Ashlee Foster and Warren Blyth, wanted to create a resource that could help faculty transition from a feeling of overwhelm to a place of greater confidence and action. 

To do so, they turned to a familiar schematic in education — Bloom’s Taxonomy

Created in 1956 and revised in 2001, this cognitive framework is known by educators around the world. The Ecampus course development and training team uses it as a tool to help faculty think through the concept of alignment — i.e., do your planned course activities align with student learning outcomes?

While acknowledging some limitations and criticisms of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Oregon State’s AI council subgroup recognized that it could provide a much-needed structure for evaluating AI capabilities and how they might impact the way students learn.

After a phase of extensive exploration and reading about the training behind AI tools, the Ecampus team created its own classroom scenarios and prompts and set about testing how generative AI performed across different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Bloom's Taxonomy Revisited

Offered under a Creative Commons license, this revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy gives educators concrete guidance on where to consider reviewing and amending their course design.

Despite all of their investigative work, what they found surprised them.

“We sort of made the assumption that AI would be really good at doing the stuff at the bottom of the pyramid,” says McAlvage. “But that’s not actually how it turned out. For example, AI is actually really good at doing analysis at this time, which is considered right in the middle of that level of complexity.” 

So what does that mean for the future of course design and the student experience? 

For starters, this is not the end of meaningful learning. But it does mean faculty have new considerations and decisions to make. 

The team synthesized their findings into a new version of Bloom’s Taxonomy, offered under a Creative Commons license, which gives faculty concrete guidance on where they might want to review and amend their course design.

You can download this new resource on the Ecampus website, where the team further unpacks:

  1. How students might already be using AI tools for learning activities and assessments, with relevant examples for asynchronous, online courses.
  2. The distinctive human skills that faculty can continue to emphasize and evaluate in learning, which may guide thoughtful revision of course activities and assessments
  3. Additional notes for each level of the Taxonomy to help faculty consider how to adapt to teaching and learning in this new age.

McAlvage stresses that this is a resource for every educator — whether you teach in-person, hybrid or online and regardless of whether you want to encourage, discourage or restrict the use of AI in your classroom. 

“We don’t, at the end of the day, have a preference for whether or not students should use AI in a class or not,” says McAlvage. “There are legitimate reasons for both, and there are choices to intentionally and thoughtfully be made.”

This resource is intended to serve as one guide, and it’s clear from its positive reception that it’s resonating — with hundreds of people downloading the PDF every week and a recent translation into French.

“This is not a forever tool. It’s a product of its time, and we created it under a Creative Commons license for that reason,” says McAlvage. “Because we can’t see the future, right? We don’t know how fast AI capabilities will evolve. So it’s meant to be shared, and we’ll work through this as a community.”


This revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy is one in a series of tools that the Oregon State Ecampus AI council created and released in the summer of 2023 to support educators as they navigate this new era in education. You can view other resources on the AI council website.

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