In the last several months, AI has been everywhere – from water cooler conversation to innovative new products in nearly every sector. With this has come conversations from educators – how is AI going to change day to day operations in classrooms? Should educators embrace AI and AI enabled software or take a more cautious “wait and see” approach? Here are our top seven things to think about when you’re thinking about AI for your classroom this year.
AI tools are popping up every day and, as is the case with all emerging technologies, most of them only do one thing – or at least do one thing well. When you’re thinking about what solutions to try in your classroom, remember that every new tool will need to be integrated into your existing teaching & learning methods. Be mindful of not to overwhelm yourself by adding too much at once.
Much of the current focus on AI tools centers on their potential impacts on students – concerns about increased plagiarism, challenges in assessing understanding, and the difficulty of incorporating technology while still offering challenging assignments. While these are all good questions, ask not what AI can do for your students but what AI can do for you! New solutions are being introduced everyday that can free up your time by helping create lesson plans, instructional materials, and assessment questions, among other tasks. Finding ways for AI to simplify your workflows could go a long way towards taking tasks off your plates, allowing you to focus on what truly matters: teaching and inspiring your students.
As of now, most AI tools are built off the same few language models. This means that the primary value offered by new entrants in the market often comes down to how easily they allow users to extract meaningful results. When you’re evaluating AI tools, pay careful attention to their user interface and the design of their prompting structures; the more user-friendly and intuitive these elements are, the better the overall quality of the product.
For years, there have been concerns that technology, and educational technology in particular, is going to displace the human element crucial to teaching and learning. Particularly with AI, there’s been a lot of conversation about how Ai solutions will impact hiring and staffing. However, it is important to remember that the language models are far from flawless – and likely never will be. Current models don’t come near 100% accuracy on simple things like high school algebra, so it’s unlikely they will come to a place that removes the need for a human to guide, facilitate, and check the use of the tool.
Districts around the country are looking to each other for someone to be the first mover in publishing a thoughtful, useful policy regarding the use of AI tools that can be replicated. Current district policies are running the gambit from “all use of AI is considered cheating” to “Educators – use this year to explore tools while we put together a steering committee”. Most guiding bodies are advocating a wait and see approach and there’s a thought that this academic year’s student conduct cases will inform future policy development.
Technologists are off to the races to develop AI solutions. They have a vision of the future that they are aggressively working towards. What’s missing from that vision? In many instances, there’s a lack of educator input in the solutions being developed. When you are evaluating new tools (not just AI tools!), make sure that the companies behind them have consulted with teachers.Whether it’s through advisory boards, educator feedback programs, or having recent educators on their staff; such consultations are essential to ensure the solution is classroom-friendly.
Education is an ever adapting discipline; as the world changes, so does the process of teaching and learning. Throughout history, teachers have worried over the impact of new technologies on students – wondering, for example, if calculators would make learning basic arithmetic obsolete, or if Wikipedia would undermine one’s ability to evaluate valid sources.In each case, the educational landscape has adapted so that the new tools enhance, rather than compromise, what students learn. Generative AI will be no different; it’s up to today’s teachers, learners, and technologists to define the role that AI tools will have on education going forward.
ClassIn has recently visited 70+ key players in the AI industry and have put together a comprehensive guide on what solutions are being developed, how they’ll impact teaching & learning, and what to look out for next. Download our full guide here.