Classroom Technology From Our Research Center

Teachers Told Us They’ve Used AI in the Classroom. Here’s Why

By Lauraine Langreo — January 05, 2024 1 min read
Illustration of female teacher in classroom using artificial intelligence.
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It’s been a year since ChatGPT—an AI-powered tool that can seemingly answer any prompt—burst onto the K-12 scene, and teachers are slowly embracing the tool and others like it.

One-third of K-12 teachers say they have used artificial intelligence-driven tools in their classroom, according to an EdWeek Research Center survey of educators conducted between Nov. 30 and Dec. 6, 2023.

Of those who said they’ve used AI tools, 21 percent said they’ve used them a little, 10 percent said they’ve used them some, and 2 percent said they’ve used them a lot, according to the survey, which included 498 teachers.

Artificial intelligence experts have touted the technology’s potential to transform K-12 into a more personalized learning experience for students, as well as for teachers through personalized professional development opportunities. Beyond the classroom, experts also believe that generative AI tools could help districts become more efficient and fiscally responsible.

But there are challenges: Many teachers are still unfamiliar with the technology, and they are worried about students using AI tools to cheat and not knowing that the tools can produce inaccurate or biased responses.

Teachers have used ChatGPT and other generative AI tools to create lesson plans, give students feedback on assignments, build rubrics, compose emails to parents, and write letters of recommendation.

In open-ended responses to the EdWeek Research Center survey, educators who have used the technology say that it can be a very effective tool if used responsibly. Others also say that while they’ve used AI tools a little bit, they’d like to learn more about how to use them for their work and how to teach students to use them properly.

Here’s how and why some educators say they’ve been using AI tools in the classroom:

   AI is something we shouldn't be tiptoeing around. I have been following language models for years, and I was one of the first ones to sign up for ChatGPT last November. This is here to stay, and it is a disruptive technology. We, in education, need to jump on this train and teach kids and teachers to use it. It is currently the PERFECT search engine and the PERFECT assistant. It is a FABULOUS time-saver when you become a "power user" with regard to inputs for ChatGPT, Bard, or Claude2. AI is here to stay, and it is growing exponentially every single day. […] This technology is a game-changer for poor districts and struggling districts.

— District superintendent in Mississippi

   I believe that we should responsibly teach students how AI works and how to use it as a tool. My high school students try to use ChatGPT to write papers, but they always seem wonky and repetitive. I tease them and suggest that I wouldn't mind if they were at least well written! I explain that in order to utilize the tool we must read and edit what the AI spits out. I frequently use ChatGPT to write lesson plans, syllabi, and parent letters. It can be a very effective tool, but I still look over and edit anything that looks off. As an artist—it's very important that people understand the difference between creating something from scratch and using AI to generate visuals.

— High school fine arts teacher in Texas

   My district recently issued a survey to staff asking if we would be interested in having a trained AI/ChatGPT professional offer a professional development session on AI and ChatGPT. It seemed to be an open exploratory opportunity. They asked if we would be interested and what we would like them to address in the session. I share this because I think my school is trying to navigate how AI will fit into our school's instruction in a way that is realistic. I fully support this; I used ChatGPT in my classroom last year and am looking forward to learning more ways to understand, leverage, and teach students about this technology.

— High school English teacher in New Jersey

   Recently, our technology teacher told me about using ChatGPT for crafting letters of recommendation. I get a lot of these and it certainly helped when I received several requests with quick due dates. I can definitely see the usage but would want a lot more training and guidelines set.

— High school social studies teacher in Michigan

   When ChatGPT first became publicly available it was almost immediately used by my students as a plagiarism tool. The timing was bad. I was preparing students for the AP English Literature exam and we were drilling quite a bit of fairly formulaic writing in the 300-400 word range, which ChatGPT is particularly well suited for. When the realization dawned on me that many of my students were using the tool unethically, my feelings [were] hurt. It was depressing in a genuinely existential way. As the leader of the English department for my school I held a meeting with the department and we crafted an acceptable use policy. This school year we started to proactively design procedures that would make it harder to use AI unethically and some teachers, myself included, have started finding ways to model ethical use. It's been a roller coaster.

— High school English teacher in Texas


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