Classroom Technology From Our Research Center

The AI Classroom Hype Is All Wrong, Some Educators Say

By Lauraine Langreo — May 14, 2024 1 min read
Illustration of a large, sinking iceberg forming the letters "AI" as a business professional stands on the tip of the iceberg that remains above water with his hands on his hips and looking out into the large sea.
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Many educators who have used generative artificial intelligence tools in their work have called the emerging technology a “game changer.”

Some say it’s been especially helpful in reducing the time it takes to do planning or administrative work, such as creating schedules, crafting lesson plans, and writing letters of recommendation for students. Teachers say they work an average of 57 hours a week, but less than half of that time is spent teaching.

“I think the use of AI has streamlined many aspects of teaching and has saved much prep time for teachers,” said a high school fine arts teacher in California in an open-ended response to an EdWeek Research Center survey conducted in March and April.

But amid all the encouragement to try the technology, there are plenty of educators who haven’t tried AI tools and don’t plan to start. These educators are more skeptical of the technology and don’t believe it should be used in K-12.

In open-ended responses to the EdWeek Research Center survey, educators shared their reasoning:

It could degrade critical thinking skills

   AI is not as wonderful as you all make it out to be. How do we expect our next generation to learn to think if all we teach them is how to use AI?

— District-level administrator, Ohio

   AI is driving a wedge between critical thinking and imagination.

— High school foreign language teacher, New Jersey

   AI are machines. They have been trained using stolen data. Students should be learning, questioning, problem-solving, and doing their own work. Teachers should as well. I do not believe AI can ethically be used.

— High school English teacher, Louisiana

   Students should not use AI until they have demonstrated some level of mastery on a subject. Students should not even use a calculator until they can do arithmetic calculations without tools. Problem solving starts in the mind, not on a keypad.

— High school math teacher, Texas

   AI and use of computers in the classroom has diminished everyone's ability to think, learn and reason. It's too easy to punch in a subject and get an immediate answer, which may or may not be correct. How many times have we heard "the computer model says this or that," so therefore that's the end of the discussion. Now I hear AI says this or that. Machines do not and can never have the capabilities of the human mind and the human experience. They can never have the ability to reason. They can never have the ability to rely on "gut instinct," which is correct most of the time. They can never have the ability to say "something just isn't right here." All they can do is look at the data that is fed into them and go from there. And that data is totally dependent on the character of the human or humans feeding it into them.

— District-level administrator, Texas

   I feel AI is used less as a resource and more as a crutch. I was shaken when I found out how many yearbook groups have used AI to write their entire yearbook and make the theme and set the ladder and put it together. We don't like students using AI because it's considered "plagiarism" but yet some teachers use it for everything. I don't mind AI as a brainstorming tool but when you give AI the ability to do all your work is when I have issues with it.

— Middle school teacher, Missouri

The human touch is better

   I have never used AI for anything in my job. I would think we still have to follow through with the actual teaching. AI can't do what I do!!

— High school math teacher, Michigan

   While AI is the future, it's more important that teachers know their subject matter, and AI should only be used as a supplement to the teacher's scope of knowledge. To use it beyond that is ineffective as the presentation of the knowledge will be presented with less passion and clarity.

— Middle school physical education teacher, Virginia

   While I believe AI is here to stay, I do not believe that it should be used to simply replace the human aspect of the learning experience. If AI is used by instructors or teachers heavily, then the computer is essentially doing the teachers' jobs for them and the teacher is simply the middle person who repeats what the computer tells them.

— High school career-technical education teacher, Missouri

   AI concerns me in that educators need to know their "stuff" before blindly having AI create lessons, etc., to administer in class. I have tried AI and caught multiple errors in its creation. If I had used what AI created, I would have considered myself unethical in teaching students through that lesson because it contained many errors.

— District-level administrator, Alabama

   Utilizing AI to develop assessments is impersonal. If the general scientific community can acknowledge that generative AI utilizes biased information to create material, why would we rely on these tools to create unbiased assessments?

— High school social studies teacher, Montana

The K-12 system isn’t prepared

   I think that AI is a very dangerous phenomenon for learning and education. It seems like it is thrust upon us and unleashed without adequate preparation to handle the consequences for learning and teaching. I think this should be the number one topic for governments and academic institutions to address immediately.

— High school foreign language teacher, Pennsylvania

   I fear AI is yet another trend that education professionals are running headlong into without sufficient forethought and planning.

— Elementary fine arts teacher, Virginia

   I have never used AI and never will. I think it gives fuel to a fire that we won't be able to control.

— Elementary teacher, North Carolina

Concerns about how it affects their jobs

   Last year, I spent a lot of time talking with English teaching colleagues about how to tackle the new problem of AI generated student work. We researched apps to check for plagiarism and AI produced writing and didn't find a good source to help us. This new issue is requiring teachers to rethink the types of assignments we give and the ways we ask students to produce writing in class so we can ensure they are producing original works. It's frustrating and time consuming.

— High school English teacher, Minnesota

   Artificial Intelligence will render my job unnecessary within five years. My students use Grammarly and ChatGPT to write their essays, and they even use it to email their teachers. Commercials show corporations praising their staff for using it to email each other. If humans no longer need to learn how to communicate well in writing—if AI does it for us—then what I have been teaching students for decades is no longer needed. What's more, my students already realize this and are showing it in their attitudes and efforts in writing class.

— Middle school English teacher, Massachusetts

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Data analysis for this article was provided by the EdWeek Research Center. Learn more about the center’s work.

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