Understanding the Power of AI in Education
As an EdTech consultant and classroom teacher, I have seen firsthand how technology can transform the way we teach and learn - and education is about to have a major transformation. As you probably know by now, one of the most exciting and rapidly evolving areas of technology is artificial intelligence (AI). Although AI has been quietly assisting us for many years in our daily lives through tools like voice assistants and autocorrect, it has made new waves recently with the release of new chatbot tools like Chat GPT.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence refers to the ability of machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as learning, reasoning, and problem-solving. AI systems are designed to analyze vast amounts of data and identify patterns and insights that humans may miss. These systems can then use this knowledge to make predictions, offer recommendations, and even take actions.
DALL-E generated image of a robot in a classroom full of students.
AI comes in many forms, it is used in personal assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant to answer questions, set reminders, and control smart home devices. Social media platforms use AI algorithms to suggest friends, prioritize posts, and personalize advertising. In healthcare, AI analyzes medical images, predicts disease outcomes, and develops new drugs. Online shopping uses AI to recommend products, optimize pricing, and manage logistics. In entertainment, AI personalizes movie and music recommendations and creates realistic computer-generated graphics in video games and movies. AI is also used in banking and finance to detect fraud, predict market trends, and automate customer service interactions.
In other words, AI is already a very integrated part of our society and daily lives.
Fight or Flow?
Considering this, when it comes to AI in education, there are two main approaches: the "fight" approach and the "flow" approach. The fight approach sees AI as a tool that competes against genuine student learning and hinders academic outcomes. The flow approach, on the other hand, sees AI as a tool to support students in their learning and help them reach their potential.
I view AI in education a lot like I view the calculator; both be considered as tools that students can use to aid their learning in school. Just as calculators help students perform mathematical calculations more efficiently and accurately, AI chatbots can assist students in finding information, answering questions, and providing feedback on their work. However, it's important to note that just like calculators, AI chatbots should be used as a tool in conjunction with the development of foundational skills and critical thinking. While calculators can help students solve complex problems more efficiently, they should still learn the underlying mathematical concepts to fully understand the calculations they are performing. Similarly, while AI chatbots can help students find information and provide feedback, they should still develop the skills of critical thinking and analysis to fully comprehend and apply the information they are receiving.
At its best, AI can be a powerful tool to help teachers and students work more efficiently and effectively. For example, AI-powered chatbots can help teachers provide personalized feedback to students on their work, generate writing prompts for students, and even create essays for discussion, dissection, or revision. These chatbots can be trained to recognize specific writing styles, identify errors and provide constructive feedback, and offer suggestions for improvement.
One powerful AI tool that has recently made waves in the education world is ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI. Chat GPT is capable of generating human-like responses to text inputs, making it a powerful tool for automating tasks that would normally require human intervention. ChatGPT is on the forefront of AI chatbots, but both Microsoft and Google have announced the imminent release of their own tools.
If you’ve used ChatGPT at all, you were likely initially astounded at its capabilities, and then as you continued to use it, realized that although the text being generated was very good, it tends to feel a little one-note, a bit “robotic” if you will.
However, that is only ChatGPT’s default state. The tool has an incredible ability to adapt to the input provided. If you’d like the paragraph you’ve generated to sound more like Hemmingway, you can train ChatGPT to do that, all it takes is a little bit of PREP.
Dan Fitzpatrick is a leading expert in AI and education, and he recommend the following method for generating quality responses from Chat GPT:
P - Prompt it.
R - Give it a role.
E - Give it explicit instructions.
P - Give clear parameters.
Here's how I might PREP ChatGPT to provide me a prompt to use with my students.:
And here is what Chat GPT gave me:
I could now use this paragraph in an exercise with my students to identify elements of persuasive writing, and adjust my PREP prompt with different topics to generate more examples to use in formative and summative assessment.
Generating writing samples is one of my favorite ways to use ChatGPT, but there are several other ways to use chatbots in education:
-Give feedback on student work using a rubric
-Create lesson plans
-Create writing prompts for students
-Generate essays for discussion, dissection, or revision
-As a revision and editing tool
Another exciting development in AI for education is DALL-E, a program developed by OpenAI that can generate images from text descriptions. This tool has the potential to revolutionize the way we create educational materials, allowing teachers to quickly and easily create custom images to illustrate teaching points and complex concepts.
DALL-E generated image of an eye.
I don’t know about you, but I can waste a lot of time looking for the exact right image to best represent my teaching point, not only to make my presentation more visually engaging, but as a best practice in differentiating instruction.
Instead of scouring Google Images and maybe even editing an image to create the exact representation, I can prompt DALL-E to provide me with an image, even indicating the artistic style I would like it to be in.
Other AI Tools
AI-powered tools like Parlay, Canva, and Google Forms are also gaining popularity in the education space. Parlay is a tool that helps teachers facilitate class discussions and debates, while Canva is a graphic design tool that can be used to create visually engaging materials like presentations and posters. Google Forms, on the other hand, is a tool that makes it easy for teachers to create surveys and quizzes and collect data from students.
What’s Coming in the Future of AI
As AI continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more exciting developments in the education space. AI-powered tutoring systems, for example, have the potential to personalize learning and provide students with targeted support based on their individual needs. Similarly, AI-powered grading systems could help reduce the time and effort required for grading, freeing up teachers to focus on other aspects of their work.
AI has the potential to transform the way we teach and learn. Those who leverage the power of AI tools like chatbots, image generators, and other AI technologies in education will be on the forefront of this new technological wave, save themselves time, and better prepare their students for the future.