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AI belongs in schools. Here's how I plan to use it to help, not hurt my students

When it comes to education and other fields, I am convinced that AI will add to the rich tapestry of human knowledge not replace it

For three years, our kids and teachers dealt with learning via Zoom. Now, they’re facing a new challenge: learning how to navigate artificial intelligence in the classroom. 2023 will be the first year when students will have access to generative AI—a tool that could enable students to feed their computer a few words and create a response for their essays and homework in seconds. 

Just as calculators didn't render arithmetic obsolete, and Wikipedia didn't erase the need for critical thinking, AI is poised to enhance—not replace—the rich tapestry of human knowledge. Just like calculators enabled students to engage in complex calculations faster and at an earlier age, generative AI can likewise advance the speed and depth of learning. Every transformative tool, from encyclopedias to calculators and the vast world of the internet, has faced its share of skepticism. AI is no different. 

As a parent, educator and technologist, I have some tips and tricks that may help.


We must adapt our teaching for this new technology. For my students, I ensure that there is more depth to my assignments than simply a regurgitation of information. Their homework must engage in persuasion or critical analysis – the very things that robots lack. Likewise, discussions and voice examinations can further develop the depth of a student's understanding and skills rather than turning them into walking encyclopedias. 

In my classroom experiences, I will allow my students to use ChatGPT or Google’s Bard. However, I warned my students that if using a generative AI platform is all that they do, their grades will reflect it. This is no different than in years past when a student did little more than a web search for their reports expecting an "A." 

AI can help develop ideas, but it is the student’s duty to take those seeds and grow them. Students must show mastery of the information and an ability to convey that information in a way that is compelling and critical – things robots aren’t too good at. 


Fortunately, it’s rather easy for the human eye to detect when an assignment, essay or article has been written with generative AI. It reads as impersonal, and it is devoid of the student's unique voice: it demonstrates that AI’s "intelligence" is truly artificial. Authentic student work pulsates with life, individual quirks and those delightful imperfections that highlight human creativity. And I require my students to identify if they used AI and what types – making them acknowledge where they needed AI and how they used it.

The lesson here? While AI can provide a structure, starting point or framework, the true essence of communication lies in a human’s unique skill for personal interpretation, critical thinking and genuine understanding.


But it's not all cautionary tales. When teaching complex subjects, AI-powered platforms like Khan Academy have proven invaluable. These tools help students by providing tailored lessons, ensuring that each individual's unique learning curve is respected and nurtured. This level of customization, which adjusts to the strengths and weaknesses of each student, was previously unthinkable in a traditional classroom setup.

The vast benefits of AI are impossible to ignore. Beyond personalized learning platforms, tools like Ahura track students' learning habits, noting their attention and engagement levels to optimize study sessions. Gradescope, another AI-powered tool, eases the burden on educators by streamlining the grading process. This automation liberates valuable time, allowing educators to engage more deeply with students, understand their challenges and provide that essential human touch.

As educators, our objective is to equip our students to succeed in the world, and AI is an undeniable part of tomorrow’s horizon. Instead of perceiving it as a challenge, let's view it as an ally. By integrating AI tools into our curriculum, we're preparing our students for a world where technology and human ingenuity coalesce. The key is to ensure that while they harness the power of AI, they value and uphold the irreplaceable facets of human judgment, ethics and creativity.

2023 is not just another academic year; it's a resounding call for us all to learn how and where AI tools may fit into our lives. The classroom of the future is here, beaming with potential and promise. 


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