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If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them: Teachers Are Going All In on Generative AI

  •   3 min reads
If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them: Teachers Are Going All In on Generative AI
Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

Surprisingly, recent surveys suggest that teachers are embracing generative AI tools more enthusiastically than students, using them to craft engaging lesson plans more tailored to their students' interests.

by Billy Kavanagh

In today’s educational landscape, one of the biggest challenges for teachers is adapting to the era of generative AI. It allows students to save time and effort on their assignments and is an increasing challenge to academic integrity.  However, this doesn’t mean teachers are against this technology in education. Surprisingly, recent surveys suggest that teachers are embracing generative AI tools more enthusiastically than students, using them to craft engaging lesson plans more tailored to their students’ interests.

Teachers Leading the Way

Contrary to popular belief, recent surveys indicate that more teachers are utilizing generative AI tools compared to their students. A poll conducted by Quizlet, a popular study app, surveyed 1,000 students and 500 teachers in the US, revealing that teachers are more inclined to embrace generative AI. A similar trend was observed in a survey by the Walton Family Foundation, with approximately 70 percent of teachers incorporating generative AI into their teaching practices on a weekly basis.

MagicSchool, founded by Adeel Khan, has played a pivotal role in this shift. Since its launch just four months ago, the platform has garnered 150,000 users. Originally offered for free, MagicSchool will soon introduce a paid version priced at $9.99 per month per teacher. The platform assists educators by providing language model prompts based on best practices, informed by Khan’s teaching experience and popular training materials. MagicSchool enables teachers to create worksheets, tailor reading materials to individual student needs, develop personalized education plans for students with special requirements, and offer guidance on addressing student behavioral issues.

Fighting Teacher Burnout with AI

As teacher shortages loom and many educators leave the profession, several companies are touting generative AI as a solution to combat teacher burnout. However, experts like Tuan Nguyen from Kansas University’s College of Education caution that AI alone cannot address the root causes of teacher shortages, such as low pay and poor working conditions. While AI tools can save time and aid in personalized instruction, they are unlikely to transform the teacher labour market fundamentally.

Nevertheless, teachers are eager to explore the possibilities presented by generative AI. The AI Education Project, a nonprofit supported by industry giants like Google, Intel, and OpenAI, has trained over 7,000 teachers in the effective use of AI-powered tools. These educators predominantly employ generative AI for lesson planning and communication with parents.

Photo by Katja Anokhina on Unsplash

The Importance of Ethical Use

Despite the promising advantages of generative AI, teachers must use these tools judiciously. Lanira Murphy, senior director of academics at the Ednovate charter schools in Los Angeles, encourages teachers to integrate generative AI into every aspect of their instructional practice. However, she emphasizes that educators must exercise diligence and caution. Just as teachers vet traditional educational materials, they should thoroughly review content generated by AI to ensure there is no bias or logical inconsistencies.

Joseph South, chief learning officer at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), underscores the need for educators to embrace AI rather than wait for it to pass as a passing fad. He believes AI is here to stay and can significantly enhance education when used correctly. ISTE has partnered with education nonprofits to create resources and training materials to help teachers harness the potential of AI.

Challenges and Responsibility

While AI offers tremendous promise, it also poses unique challenges. Generative AI, like other forms of technology, must be carefully monitored to ensure the quality and appropriateness of the content it generates. Concerns about bias and the potential to produce inappropriate material are critical considerations for schools and educators.

In a rapidly evolving educational landscape, the integration of AI into classrooms is inevitable. Teachers must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to utilize AI effectively while maintaining their role as the ultimate arbiters of educational content. As the American Federation of Teachers forms a committee to develop best practices for AI usage, it is evident that responsible AI integration is a priority.

First published in Impakter. You can read the article here.

About the Author

Billy Kavanagh

Born in Manchester, Billy holds a BSc in Economics and Government from the London School of Economics, and has previously worked at The Times and has hosted his own podcast. He has a particular interest in global current affairs, Russian politics and culture and sports governance. When he isn’t working, you can often find Billy on the sports field or watching his beloved Manchester United.

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