The AI Advantage

How artificial intelligence can empower teachers to deliver quality education.

GUEST COLUMN | by Richard Savage, Ed.D.

SIMPLELINE

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT, Gemini and Grammarly have taken the world by storm. ChatGPT alone is setting records with more than 1.6 billion visits per month and 180 million active users. 

While technology has always driven educational transformation, the fast arrival of AI tools has created considerable debate among educators, largely due to uncertainty about their operation and path forward.

‘While technology has always driven educational transformation, the fast arrival of AI tools has created considerable debate among educators, largely due to uncertainty about their operation and path forward.’

As an online-based school, we’ve asked ourselves how AI will impact our own curriculum as an online-based learning environment and our academic integrity. Whether we’re prepared or not, students are already embracing the AI trend: roughly one-in-five teenagers who have heard of ChatGPT utilized the tool to aid them in their schoolwork, according to a 2023 Pew Research Study.

Parents Say AI Skills for Children ‘Crucial’ 

While the need for critical conversation around AI tools is warranted, optimism is rising. An April 2024 YouGov survey revealed that two-thirds of parents with children under 18 consider learning AI skills crucial for K-12 students’ future career prospects.

As schools nationwide face learning loss and low student engagement, coupled with overwhelmed and understaffed teaching staff, educators have opportunities to improve their classrooms through AI:

  • Tracking Classroom Learning and Student Outcomes. One of the key advantages of AI is its capacity to process large volumes of data. In the classroom, this can provide teachers with deeper insights into student learning and outcomes. Platforms like BrightBytes use AI to track student performance, identify areas of difficulty and design effective interventions. Consolidating and analyzing classroom data through AI can help teachers create targeted instructional plans, ultimately enabling them to focus more on teaching and less on administrative tasks.

Educators Need Proper Training

However, our educators need proper training, AI literacy, and ethical guidelines to ensure responsible usage. This includes safeguarding student privacy, maintaining human oversight in AI-based decision-making and actively addressing algorithmic biases.

  • Personalize Learning Experiences. If the technology is available, kids will find it and use it. When it comes to AI, that may not be a bad thing. In a 2023 study by Quizlet, 73 percent of students indicated that AI helps them to understand material better; 67 percent said it helped them to study faster and more efficiently. 

 

In the classroom, AI-powered platforms and tools have the ability to provide students more tailored instruction and feedback that caters to their individual learning styles, preferences and pace of learning. Personalized approaches both enhance student engagement and motivation while fostering deeper understanding of material. New technologies can also play a pivotal role in aiding classroom inclusivity by offering tools that accommodate diverse learning needs. Technologies like text-to-speech, speech recognition and language translation break down barriers, allowing students with varying levels of language proficiency or learning abilities to engage with educational content. 

On the teacher’s end, educators can leverage AI-powered platforms like Curipod or Eduaide.Ai to develop interactive lessons, activities and assessments for specific students or the class as a whole in topics that might be a little harder to comprehend. 

  • Deploy AI in the Classroom To Assist with New Curriculum: Young people are prolific at using technology as it is something they have grown up with. Students have more information at the tip of their fingers than we ever thought possible. Unfortunately, there are times when the sources of news and information that students access contain misinformation.  

Getting Educated

Last year, the California Assembly passed Bill 873, which mandates media literacy education in various subjects, in response to the massive spread of misinformation and need for such skills. AI-based tools can help educators teach students how to recognize trusted sources vs. misinformation. In turn, this underscores the responsible use of technology and our responsibility as global citizens.

  • New, Innovative AI-Themed Classes: Offer “Intro to AI” or AI-forward classes. These types of classes can help students learn about the vast, real world applications of AI beyond ChatCPT and open up a world of future possibilities for them to consider. Potential class offerings could include a coding class for AI or science which focuses on the vast applications of AI in medicine today. 

 

Lastly, if your school is incorporating AI into the classroom or including it as part of the students’ educational experience, it is imperative that you establish a clear AI policy. Also, it is very important to explain and reiterate the policy to students as they advance grade levels.

As educators, we play a crucial role in molding the foundation for the next generation. Drawing upon our own experience in the technology revolution and leading in the next, let’s ensure every student has the opportunity to thrive.

Dr. Richard Savage is the superintendent of California Online Public Schools, an accredited, tuition-free online public school serving students in grades TK-12 across 32 California counties. He has taught high school Spanish, coached soccer and volleyball, and served as vice principal to over 2,500 students at Antelope Valley High School. He also coordinated a Distinguished School Award, a successful six-year accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and school-wide project-based learning implementation, during his time as school principal at Calistoga Junior/Senior High School. He holds an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership from the University of Laverne. Connect on LinkedIn.

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