Teacher Perspective: Embracing AI in Education


Jessica Lyons, Teacher,  Perry Township Schools

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In the ever-evolving landscape of education, integrating technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), has become increasingly prevalent. Recently, a teacher approached me with a common dilemma: her students used AI on their phones to draft essays and then transferred the work to their Chromebooks. She asked what advice or guidance I could provide to her. As an AI enthusiast and educator, I offered a simple yet effective solution. In this blog post, I’ll explore the idea of embracing AI in the classroom, assessing comfort levels, and providing a quick guide for teachers to introduce AI as a valuable tool in the writing process.

Embracing AI in the Classroom

Embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the classroom is an essential step towards preparing our students for the digital landscape of the future. As technology becomes more integral in our day-to-day doings, incorporating AI into education offers unique opportunities to enhance learning experiences for our students. And let’s face it: our students are already familiar with AI. We (both our students and us) often use AI intuitively without even realizing it. 

Search Engines and Personalized Recommendations:

As teachers and students, we frequently use search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, which utilize AI algorithms to understand our search questions and provide relevant results. Additionally, platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and music streaming services use AI to analyze our preferences and offer personalized recommendations. The more we use these services, the more finely tuned the AI predicts our interests and needs.

Grammar and Spell Checkers:

Many of us rely on built-in grammar and spell checkers, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. I LOVE Grammarly! These tools use AI to analyze and correct grammar and spelling errors and even offer suggestions for improving sentence structure. While you may be aware of these features, you might not realize the underlying AI algorithms that continually learn and adapt to language patterns for more accurate assistance.

Virtual Assistants and Voice Recognition:

Virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa have become ubiquitous in both educational and personal settings. These AI-driven technologies respond to voice commands and learn from user interactions to improve performance over time. Be honest, how many times have you been teaching, and your watch has responded with, “I did not understand that.” Students may use voice recognition for speech-to-text writing. At the same time, teachers might employ these tools for administrative tasks, schedule management, or quick information retrieval, often without explicitly recognizing the AI capabilities at play.

AI has seamlessly (and some may argue sneakily) integrated into our daily educational routines in ways that go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of teaching and learning. The teacher’s inquiry about students using AI on their phones to draft essays is indicative of this reality.

Rather than viewing AI as a potential disruptor, educators can leverage its capabilities to foster a dynamic and engaging learning environment. AI tools can serve as powerful aids in the writing process, providing students with instant feedback, aiding in brainstorming, and facilitating collaborative learning. By acknowledging and embracing this reality, teachers can harness AI to catalyze creativity and critical thinking, preparing students to navigate a world where technology is not just a tool but an integral part of problem-solving and innovation.

Assessing Comfort Levels

Of course, I acknowledge that only some teachers are as comfortable with embracing AI in the classroom as I am. 

Before wading into the world of AI in education, teachers need to take a moment and assess their comfort levels, kind of like trying on a new pair of shoes — do they fit snugly, or are they a bit too tight? Some teachers might approach AI with the caution reserved for the unknown, fearing that the authenticity of student work could vanish like socks in a laundry machine. On the flip side, those adventurous souls see AI as the Robin to their Batman, ready to swoop in and make learning experiences even more dynamic.

Acknowledging your comfort level is the first step in determining how you want to approach AI integration.

Options for Teachers 

Traditional Paper Writing:

For teachers who are uncomfortable with AI usage, a straightforward solution is to have students complete their essays using traditional pen and paper. This method ensures a more conventional approach to writing without the assistance of AI tools. Sometimes, the old way is still the best.

Using AI as a Planning Tool:

If you are open to your students using AI as a planning tool, consider guiding them on its practical use. This approach acknowledges that our students may use AI anyway and empowers them to leverage technology for initial brainstorming and structuring their ideas.

The 30-Second Guide

Remember, this is a quick guide, not a comprehensive one.

For teachers comfortable with their students using AI as a planning tool, here’s a quick guide to help you navigate the process:

Select a Reputable AI Tool:

I recommend reliable AI writing tools that emphasize brainstorming and outlining rather than generating entire essays. Tools like ChatGPT or Google’s Smart Compose can be effective for this purpose.

Introducing students to the world of AI writing tools is sort of like handing them the keys to a sleek, high-tech writing partner rather than an all-knowing essay generator. Begin the conversation by emphasizing that these tools assist and amplify their creativity, not replace it. Picture it as Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S., ready to support their writing endeavors. 

Encourage your students to view these tools not as magic wands but as collaborative partners in their writing journey. Remind them that creativity is their superpower and AI tools are there to enhance, not overshadow their unique voices. 

Emphasize Originality:

Remind students that while AI can help generate ideas, their final essay should reflect their unique thoughts and voice. Encourage them to use AI as a tool for inspiration and guidance rather than a replacement for their own creativity.

It’s crucial to set the ground rules, and here’s the golden rule: While AI can be a powerful brainstorming ally, remind your students that their final essay should bear the unmistakable stamp of their unique thoughts and voice. 

AI is here to provide inspiration and guidance, not to take over their creative identity. It’s the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker, offering sage advice but leaving them in full command of their Jedi powers.

AI is here to enhance, refine, and inspire, but the true power lies in the authenticity of our students’ thoughts and the creativity they bring to the table. 

Wrapping It Up

As the educational landscape continues to embrace technological advancements, incorporating AI into the writing process is becoming a reality for many of our students- whether we like it or not. As teachers, we have a fantastic opportunity to play a pivotal role in guiding our students on the responsible use of AI, ensuring that it enhances rather than replaces their creative process. 

So, fellow educators, buckle up for the AI-infused ride ahead! Whether we’re ready for it or not, our students are hurtling into the future armed with AI-powered creativity. But fear not; we’re not bystanders in this epic saga; we’re the mentors, the Gandalfs of the educational realm. Let’s wield our teaching wands wisely, guiding these technological wizards on the responsible and magical use of AI. It’s not about resisting the inevitable but shaping it, ensuring that the clickety-clack of keyboards harmonizes with the imaginative symphony of our student’s minds. Ready or not, AI, here we come! 


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