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Classroom Technology From Our Research Center

What Educators Think About Using AI in Schools

By Lauraine Langreo — April 14, 2023 1 min read
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For years, educators have already been using some products powered by artificial intelligence to teach or to help with logistics, such as planning bus routes.

But in recent months, the rise of ChatGPT—an AI-powered tool that can write anything with just a simple prompt—has ignited debates about the benefits and drawbacks of the use of artificial intelligence in education.

Some educators are worried about how students might use AI-driven technologies like ChatGPT to cheat on school assignments, and others are embracing these products to save them time in responding to emails and creating rubrics.

Nearly half of educators who responded to a recent EdWeek Research Center survey said AI would have a negative or very negative impact on teaching and learning in the next five years. Twenty-seven percent said AI’s impact would be positive or very positive.

In the open-ended response section of the survey—which was conducted between March 29 and April 11 and had responses from 863 teachers, principals, and district leaders—two dozen educators told us how they felt about AI.

From concerns about its harms to ideas on how it will change the education system, here’s what they said.

AI will change education

   Schools will need to engage in deep discussions of what students should know and be able to do in the new era of AI. I think AI will push making education more relevant to the individual student, and the knowledge and skill s/he will need to transact with his/her life circumstances.

—District superintendent | California

   The ultimate effects of AI products such as ChatGPT on education are completely up in the air at this point. If educators follow their traditional patterns of incorporating new technologies into their instruction, then it will most likely be negative and lead to an increase of plagiarism and a lack of ultimate education for our students. If on the other hand, educators evaluate the potential for how these technologies are going to change our lives and adjust instruction to teach how to use these as tools, then it will help prepare students to ethically use them to enhance their lives. This will take a wholesale change in how we teach the writing process in secondary schools as the focus now becomes on asking intelligent questions to the AI interface and then using the response as a foundation that needs to be edited and revised using writing skills.

— Elementary school principal | California

   Since AI is not going away, we need to rethink assessment methods and find ways to harness the power of AI rather than shunning it.

— High school principal | Washington state

   Generative AI, like ChatGPT, will fundamentally change education and our belief in what future-ready means.

— High school principal | Georgia


Educators need to discuss and learn more about AI

   AI is here to stay and will be further developed. It cannot be feared but in education we better understand its use and how we can embrace it or we will once again be left behind.

— District superintendent | West Virginia

   The question on artificial intelligence platforms is a reality that will impact our school systems in the future.

— District administrator for curriculum/instruction | Tennessee

   AI must be implemented with research-based results indicating effective use as well as cautions.

— District assistant superintendent | Oregon

   Artificial intelligence is a technology that we need to learn and teach about if students are going to be able to understand and use it effectively.

— High school principal | Wisconsin


Some educators believe AI will be harmful

   Technology is hindering students' ability to think critically and mathematically. They think the computer should find the answers for them, through Google or some other app. They have become reluctant to write formulas and problems down. They need to interact with the numbers and formulas more. Students and parents complain that six to eight math problems a day is too much for the students to do, and my district discourages the assigning of homework. What does that teach children about adulthood? Everyone I know does some work at home that they don't get paid for. So, I don't think AI is going to help!

— Middle school teacher | Massachusetts

   Students are having many more mental health issues which stem partly from technology/social media. AI will only make this worse—students need to accomplish things on their own to feel proud and build confidence. Students need to be taught to think and problem solve for themselves.

— District administrator for student services | Iowa

   I believe students already have too many readily available resources, such as answers to tests, essays, reports, etc. AI just makes it even easier for students to gain answers without gaining knowledge.

— High school teacher | Missouri

   AI will make it where people are totally dependent upon it. Students need to learn how to think, solve problems, and make decisions based upon facts not what AI says. We are dumbing down our country when we take away the skills needed to make wise decisions.

— District administrator for curriculum/instruction | Arkansas


Some say it will be useful

   AI can be beneficial if taught correctly to enhance the curriculum. We have added it as a component to our schools’ professional development program.

— District administrator for curriculum/instruction | New Jersey

   I am typically a new adopter of tech and other new approaches. I will embrace AI and figure out how my students will best benefit.

— Elementary school teacher | Idaho


Others acknowledged the nuance between the benefits and drawbacks

   Artificial intelligence can be both helpful and hurtful. It can really help teachers (for example, a Spanish teacher can ask it to write a short story using certain vocabulary words and certain grammatical features). However, it can be harmful when students use it to get answers for questions on their assignments or to do writing assignments for them, because it's impossible to prove, unlike traditional plagiarism.

— High school teacher | California

   I think AI is a super interesting new technology that is emerging and has great propensity to change the world in which we live. I think it can also be a double-edged sword if we are not careful and do not tread lightly. We must avoid at all costs it replacing teachers as it does have the propensity to do so.

— Elementary school principal | Texas

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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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