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With Larry Ferlazzo

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to lferlazzo@epe.org. Read more from this blog.

Classroom Technology Opinion

Here’s What Students Think About Using AI in the Classroom

By Larry Ferlazzo — June 19, 2023 7 min read
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I’ve been sharing a series of posts in which educators have been discussing their ideas on using artificial intelligence in the classroom.

Now, it’s time to hear what some students think about the topic.

As part of a two-week unit on artificial intelligence finishing this school year in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes, students wrote short paragraphs answering this prompt from Facing History:

What impact do you think generative AI might have on schools and the way people learn?

‘Unreliable’

Bo Villegas is a rising senior at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif.:

Generative AI was made to aid humans, hence its ability to perform humanlike tasks. A way these AIs can assist students is by giving inspiration for assignments regarding writing and art. The “help” provided by generative AI can negatively affect schools and how people learn because of the false information, chatbots specifically, are known to give out.

An example of this is when I used the chatbot Poe to give five quotes from The Diary of Anne Frank, and none of the quotes given were in the publication at all. The spreading of misinformation done by these generative AIs just goes to show how unreliable they may be. Despite the help they may bring to humans, their downsides prove them to be untrustworthy.

thespreading

‘Very Biased’

Karol Garcia is a rising senior at Luther Burbank High:

I think that the impact that generative AI might have on school is that it can narrow down the learning and perspectives that the students might have. For example, when we used most AI generators for images, we saw that it was very biased and only showed a certain group of people when talking about certain topics. According to magazine Insider, “The study found 97% of DALL-E 2’s images of positions of authority—like “CEO” or “director” —depicted white men.” If we keep on teaching kids these narrow-minded ideas and images, we will never see some try and show people that they can do a lot more and make a greater impact to the Earth without having to be a certain race or ethnicity.

itcannarrow

Neither Good or Bad

Adeline Perez and Naxiely Gonzalez are rising seniors at Luther Burbank High:

Generative AI has both a positive and negative impact on schools and the way people learn. Tools such as these can benefit people in working more efficiently and also checking one’s work. Although these AIs help people work more efficiently, the work is not always held to a high standard nor is it always correct. Many times tools like these make up work that is not even real.

They do not function as humans. These tools “learn patterns from their training data and use that to create plausible responses to prompts.” They don’t actually have information that is credible or reliable. This can cause problems and affect how both schools function and how people learn. While AIs can help improve one’s work, they should not be used to produce a person’s work. AIs don’t have the mind or capacity a human brain has.

Students also must not rely on AIs to do their work because then they won’t feel the need to pay attention in class and learn because they know that an AI can do the work for them. AIs are not bad at all, it’s just that people might use them for the wrong things like to get work done instead of doing your work and then using an AI to check that work. AI is neither good nor bad, it all just depends on how a person uses the AI.

aisarenotbad

‘A.I. Just Can’t Match Up to Humans’

Joseph Ruiz is a rising senior at Luther Burbank High School:

Artificial intelligence has a negative impact on students and the ways they learn. Throughout the various videos and toying-around-with-AI, I’ve come to the conclusion that artificial intelligence may impede on the value of learning/creating and just factually distribute wrong information.

Addressing my first claim, I think that artificial intelligence takes away the meaning from the learning process within the classroom; normally you’re told to communicate, to better your work, and to get help. If we use AI to do things such as suggesting changes or judging a person’s writing/work to better fit the AI’s idea of what “good” is, then we lose the complete meaning and discovery of various subjects.

As depicted in our AI Jigsaw experiment, we saw the ever-improving nature of AI, and how it can soon surpass the intelligence of humans. Putting that in a classroom environment, you lose so much from the learning process and make everything about subjective perfection, not worthwhile improvements and actual meaning.

Furthermore, AI may distribute just wrong information. For instance, when experimenting with AI tools, I saw firsthand how common it is for a chatbot to churn out false citations. When asking the chatbot for citations from Anne Frank’s diary, the chatbot gave me citations that never existed. This also applies to pretty much every essay: If you want a citation to put in your essay in order to support your argument, the chatbot will likely give you a false citation. Not only is this just not helpful, but it can land students into a cycle of relying on false information, not looking at whether the information is correct, and extending those falsehoods into their own words.

AI just can’t match up to humans, to teachers, and ultimately turn everything into processes and numbers and set goals, not meaning and improvement.

ithinkthatartificial

A Source of ‘Inspiration’

Alex Valenzuela is a rising senior at Luther Burbank:

The impact I believe generative AI might have on schools and the way people learn is creating a new era of knowledge revolving around inspiration. Generative AI is able to provide all sorts of ideas and automated answers to questions which can take the load off for students. However, not all automated answers are correct; this will call for the student to double-check sources and scrap the AI’s response into their own.

As stated in the article, “Generative AI”, AI has been used to “create overviews on topics, essays, and artwork” which allows the student to take inspiration from suggestions instead of plagiarizing. This means that the conversation surrounding plagiarism will become more common in institutions of education, but the ability to receive aid will also improve.

AIiscreating

Thanks to Bo, Karol, Adeline, Naxiely, Joseph, and Alex for sharing their thoughts.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

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