Many schools initially had a near-panic reaction to the emergence of ChatGPT and how it could be used to supercharge plagiarism and other forms of student cheating.
But, now, that sense of panic has given way to an increasing number of teachers experimenting with how they can leverage AI in their classrooms.
To get a sense of how teachers are getting creative while also factoring in the potential downsides of this new technology, Education Week asked teachers to share what they are doing in a LinkedIn post. Education Week asked teachers if they had integrated AI tools or discussions about artificial intelligence into any lessons this school year— 40 percent said they had.
Although not a scientific poll, the numbers track with other survey data and give a peek into how teachers are adopting the technology.
A nationally representative survey by the polling firm Impact Research for the Walton Family Foundation showed that a little more than half of teachers had used ChatGPT for work-related tasks, and 40 percent said they had used it weekly.
The survey, released in March, found that teachers had used ChatGPT for lesson planning, generating ideas for class, and putting together background knowledge for their lessons.
AI is poised to change how many tasks are done in education, and educators’ responses to the LinkedIn query illustrate how that’s already happening.
Fluency with AI will only become more important for students both as learners and citizens, say experts, and students need to be familiar both with how to leverage AI in their daily tasks but also with how it works and its potential downsides.
A few key themes about how to use AI in education emerged from the LinkedIn survey:
Prepare for tests: Some teachers are encouraging students to use AI tools to help prepare for tests. Andrew Wangard, a high school teacher in Boston, posted on LinkedIn that his students use the tool Class Companion to prepare for the AP History exam.
Assist on research projects : A few teachers said they allow their students to use AI such as ChatGPT to help with brainstorming ideas or with research for their school projects.
“In our research mini-unit we watched a short video about AI and then students brainstormed follow-up questions about AI,” posted Audrey Thorne, a teacher in New York. “Students had the option to conduct their research project on AI.”
Learn to use the tech properly: A growing number of teachers are using AI to teach students how to use the technology responsibly, ethically, and productively. “We discussed using AI as a tool instead of a crutch,” posted Michael Gillet, a social studies teacher in Colorado, in response to the poll. “For example, using it to rewrite sentences that students are having trouble comprehending, or to paraphrase a student’s work, making it more condensed and to the point.”
Another teacher said she invited a guest speaker to her classroom to talk with students about cybersecurity and AI.
Improve writing skills: Some teachers say they are leveraging generative AI such as ChatGPT to help their students become better writers.
One educator said she asks her students to imagine their favorite place, describe it in a prompt to an AI-image generating tool, and then write about how the AI-generated image compares to reality.
Another educator described having his students prompt an AI-text generating tool to write a short story, analyze it against the class rubric, and then write their own, better version of the story.
Bolster professional learning: Teachers are using AI to supplement their own professional development. And college-level instructors are also using AI in teacher-prep programs. John Blase, a former K-12 teacher who now teaches college-level courses at universities in Chicago and Peoria, Ill., posted that he encourages his students to use AI-generated ideas to get the creative juices flowing.
“AI-generated products can be a boon to jump-start a project, but it will never substitute for the critical thinking required to reach the end of the process,” he said.