We Need to Talk About AI in Education

We Need to Talk About AI in Education

 If you’ve heard about ChatGPT or any other chatbots or AI content generators, your students have too. It’s nothing you can hide. We need to talk about AI in education because it’s not going away, it’s only going to get better, and AI could potentially change our teaching and learning practices for the better. Here’s what you need to know about AI in education. (This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made from the links give me a small commission and keep this website going.)

ai in education robot at computer chat gpt

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot released by OpenAI. It uses GPT-3.5 language-generation software that generates language and conversation like a human. Chatbots aren’t new. I remember talking to “SmarterChild” and AOL Instant Messenger in college. To be honest, SmarterChild wasn’t the brightest bulb, but it was fun to ask the bot about weather, movies, and even have sarcastic banter.

On the other hand, ChatGPT is more than just chatter. What might scare teachers is that it can write entire essays, answer multiple-choice questions, and, well, complete homework assignments for students. Scary? Maybe. . .but maybe we just need to flip the script. (More on that later.)

You can start your own ChatGPT account with an email address. It is still free at the time of this post.

What other AI tools are out there?

AI Content Generation is not new either. There are a lot of AI writing tools that content creators have been using to generate outlines, marketing materials, social media posts, and blogs. Jasper, WordHero, WriteSonic, and even Canva’s AI are making marks in the AI world. ChatGPT is completely free at the time of this post, and the output seems to be the most advanced for educational content, especially for what our students may use.

There are also AI art generators, AI video content, and more!

For this post, I am going to focus on what ChatGPT can do, but if you have questions about the other AI tools, let me know!

Cons for AI in Education

Understandably, teachers are worried about what AI in education means for academic integrity and student work. Here are some potential drawbacks for AI in education.

AI-written essays and assignments

With free resources like ChatGPT, students can simply input a prompt and ask the AI to write their essay for them. Yes, it may sound somewhat robotic, but AI has come a long way in the last few months. Check out this example.

Initially, I asked ChatGPT to write an essay analyzing the theme of The Hunger Games.

ChatGPT Hunger Games prompt

This sounds a little robotic, so I added some ways to make it sound like a 6th grader. Kids will quickly figure out these workarounds to make the work sound like them.

6th grade ChatGPT AI in education prompt Hunger Games

There are tools that claim they can check for plagiarism using artificial intelligence. I tried plag.ai  with the Hunger Games example, and it came back as original. ChatGPT and similar tools are not pulling information from the internet. They are using AI to generate content that is original for every inquiry. There may be similarities, but it’s not going to be detected using TurnitIn or Google Classroom’s originality detectors.

plag.ai AI plagiarism detector

ChatGPT and other AI tools are doing more than just writing essays. They generate code, write poems, and even solve equations (and explain the processes). This is definitely a con to AI in education through the traditional methods of teaching and homework in the classroom, but what if we thought about teaching and learning differently?

Flipped Classrooms and AI in Education

flipped classroom

Flipped classrooms aren’t brand new concepts. Using a flipped classroom approach means having students watch a brief video or read lecture notes at home and then complete the traditional homework in class. If you still insist on giving homework, flipped classrooms are an ideal way to make sure students have equitable resources to practice in the classroom and are really reaching learning targets.

If students are required to complete most of their writing in class, this lessens the problem of using bots to complete essays and even creative writing or narrative pieces.

If we focus on more project-based learning approaches (i.e. Genius Hour) and performance tasks like portfolios, speaking opportunities, and other creative ways to demonstrate learning, AI becomes less of a concern.

Will AI in Education hurt student creativity?

One of the cons of AI in education educators fear is stifling student creativity. Let’s be real. Hasn’t education already reached that point in many ways? Constant pressures on academic testing and standardized education have already taken some creativity out of education.

The late Ken Robinson talked about it in his TEDTalk 16 years ago, and it’s still relevant today.

Of course, there are so many creative teachers in the classroom! But, AI in education is not what is going to kill student creativity.

If you don’t think students know about AI in education, you’re wrong. Our kids (especially secondary students) are usually in the know with the latest tech, especially if it shows up on TikTok or if it means taking shortcuts (or “hacks”).

Your students can use AI in the classroom to promote creativity! When we use AI to eliminate (or even lessen) mundane tasks, students can focus more on the creation aspect.

I used ChatGPT AI to have generate story ideas. These are prompts. Yes, AI could potentially write the story too, but these are creative, fun ideas your students want to write! Have them generate their own ideas in class.

idea story generation about dystopian stories using Chat GPT

What are some other ways you can use AI in education creatively in the classroom?

What AI in Education and ChatGPT can’t do

Even though ChatGPT and other AI tools can eliminate some leg work for students (and even teachers, more on that in a later post), there are things ChatGPT cannot do.

One of the things ChatGPT cannot do at this time is answer questions regarding current events. The data ChatGPT pulls from in 2021. Yes, it’s getting updated as we speak, but it’s not there yet. In fact, if you ask ChatGPT what it is, it doesn’t know!

ChatGPT prompt asking what ChatGPT is. It doesn't know.

When giving student writing prompts or other homework assignments, try to incorporate current connections. Whether you’re teaching literature, social studies, or computer science, asking students to make connections to their own lives or current events certainly helps in originality and creativity, lessening the ability for AI to take over!

AI in Education

The implications for AI in education may seem scary, but there are things teachers can do to make sure students are still learning and sharing original thoughts. I’ll continue to share more updates on AI in education as they become available including how teachers can use AI to improve their teaching.

How will you use AI in your classroom?