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How Artificial Intelligence is Affecting Schools

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There’s no way around it: artificial intelligence has maneuvered its way into the education sphere. While AI has been around for a while, usually in the form of grading standardized tests and identifying plagiarism, the ultra-advanced technology has made its way to students for the first time ever, and it has the potential to transform education as we know it. We’ll break down both the good and the bad to AI in school, so you’re fully equipped to handle these situations as they arise. 


Let’s get the bad out of the way. 


First, there are major concerns of plagiarism. Students have already been caught, or admitted to, submitting essays written by AI as their own work. As AI becomes more widely available, this issue is expected only to grow.  


Second, AI often falls victim to human biases. AI only knows what is given to it by human activity, meaning the results it gives will be biased, and therefore, flawed. This has been a major problem in other industries, including criminal justice and healthcare.  


Similarly, AI programs like ChatGPT are often outright wrong. They don’t pull information from databases or studies, meaning the information it puts to paper has a high chance of being incorrect, hurting a student’s chance at success.   


Now, let’s talk about the good. 


It may not seem like there’s much good to AI in schools, but that’s not true. It’s all about adapting to the (fast arriving) future. AI programs like ChatGPT can be used to help students think of ideas for assignments or give them points to expand upon. In fact, an English teacher in Pennsylvania caught his students using AI for essays, and used it as a teaching moment instead of an automatic failure. He’s worked AI into his curriculum where he can help kids develop their ideas or expand on certain points without sacrificing the subject matter at hand.  


AI can also be a great way of demonstrating how easy it is to get disinformation on the internet. Lesson plans regarding media literacy can (and probably should) have extensive units on AI. Demonstrating its reliability, or lack thereof, in real time is the best deterrent there is. 


In a strange, maybe ironic way, teachers can demonstrate the importance of a human touch to education through AI. AI may be able to write convincing sentences, but it can’t formulate human ideas. It can’t be creative. There’s no heart in the essays it puts out. Ask your students, what’s more enjoyable to read: a bland piece that relays the bare minimum, or a paper with real ideas, arguments, and points to be made?  


Learning to work with, not against, AI in school is the best way to move forward. If it’s going to make its way into education, it should be seen as a supplement, not a scary dark cloud looming over schools. Just don’t lose sight of what’s really important: a quality education for all.  

Originally posted 2023

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