What’s the Buzz: Artificial Intelligence?

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Educators must stay up-to-date with the latest tools and resources to enhance classroom productivity and provide better instruction in today’s rapidly advancing digital landscape. One area that has been generating a lot of buzz is artificial intelligence (AI). In this blog post, we’ll demystify AI and explore how it can benefit teachers in creating a more personalized and effective learning environment for their students.

What is Artificial Intelligence? 

Artificial intelligence refers to developing computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. Instead of relying solely on pre-programmed instructions, AI systems can learn from data and patterns and then adapt to improve performance. In simpler terms, AI enables computers to analyze information and make decisions as humans do! For example, when you watch videos on YouTube, it uses machine learning to recommend other videos that you might like based on what you saw before.

AI is a fascinating and fast-growing field of science. It has many applications and benefits for different areas of life, such as education, health care, entertainment, business, and more. However, it has challenges and risks, such as ethical issues, privacy concerns, social impacts, and potential misuse. Therefore, learning more about AI and how it works is crucial to use it wisely and responsibly.

Occasionally, AI tools “hallucinate,” creating fictional information to satisfy requests when they cannot find it or when none exists. I asked one site to find a passage in a trade book that exemplified the theme of hope. The selection it returned was perfect, but when I asked where to find that passage, the chatbot told me I needed to search the ebook to find it. Long story short, that was not part of the story. The bot was trying to help me in the best way it knew how. As we continue to look into how to leverage  AI for our classrooms best, we must remember to verify the information we receive.  

Another issue is that the tools are all different. As you delve deeper into using AI, you’ll find that some models use the data and information available through 2021, and others have used more recent data. Websites or newer tools may not be recognized by the chatbot if trained on older data. In addition, if you need to reference copyrighted work, the chatbot will probably not have access to the text. You’ll need to provide detailed information in your prompt.

Enhancing Productivity and Differentiation: 

One of the critical advantages of AI in education is its potential to enhance teacher productivity and facilitate differentiated instruction. Here are a few ways teachers can leverage AI to achieve these goals:

Intelligent Data Analysis: AI can help teachers analyze large sets of student data more efficiently. By automating the collection and processing of information, AI tools can provide valuable insights into student progress, learning patterns, and areas that require additional support. With this information, teachers can make more informed decisions about individual student needs.

Automated Grading and Feedback: AI can relieve teachers of the time-consuming task of grading assignments. AI-powered tools can assess and provide feedback on quizzes, tests, and written work, allowing teachers to focus on deeper student engagement. Immediate feedback from AI systems also empowers students to understand their progress and make necessary improvements.

Personalized Learning Paths: AI-powered platforms can create customized learning paths for each student. By considering their strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles, these tools offer tailored recommendations, resources, and activities. This approach enables teachers to address the diverse needs of their students and provide targeted support to help them achieve their full potential.

AI Tech Tools for Teachers: 

To help you get started, here are a few AI tech tools specifically designed for educators:

MagicSchool.ai – This free AI app generates items that you might use on a day-to-day basis. The promotional information says that you could save ten hours a week. Depending on how much you choose to use it, I estimate more than that – on saving time from lesson plans alone. This tool can help with lesson planning, student support, and communication, among other things. I especially like the text leveler – give it some text and tell it to return it at a different reading level – and the vocabulary-based text generator – give it your vocabulary words and ask it to produce a passage based on those words so the class can practice using them. 

Curipod: Need a quick concept explainer or lesson introduction? What about an SEL check-in or exit ticket? Coripod has you covered! Just give it your topic and grade level and tell it to generate. You can then customize the slides by changing the font, and background, adding some media, or even translating the text for your multilingual learners. When you are ready to use your resource, click present and let your students join the lesson to answer your questions in real-time. 

Eduaide.ai: Want a virtual teaching assistant? This website can help. In addition to helping you create instructional materials, you can use the site to generate documents to help your students who may need specific support. Try an AI-generated behavioral intervention plan or accommodations list to see how students respond to these supports. Increase or decrease the complexity of a piece of text. Use AI to create a rubric or anchor chart. Generate substitute plans or a script for your direct instruction.  

Teachermatic: This site might work if you want to dip your toe in the water. Use this site to generate assessment questions, SMART goals, discussion topics, and more. Generate topic reading lists, flashcards, and even topic notes. 

Character.ai:  This is not specifically for education but is too good not to list here. Use this tool to create your chatbot representing a character that you have made. You could also try existing characters created by others, including several famous people drawn from the available information on the character. Are you studying the civil war? Your students can chat with Ulysses S. Grant or Abraham Lincoln. Are you looking at social activism? Let them talk with Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. 

Other Resources: 

If you’re interested in further exploring AI’s potential in the classroom, be sure to watch the archive of the OK2Ask session on “Using AI for Teacher Productivity.” Watch for the upcoming OK2Ask session on “Generating Formative and Summative Assessments with AI.” These sessions will provide valuable insights and practical tips on integrating AI into your teaching practice.

Artificial intelligence offers exciting possibilities for K-12 teachers to enhance productivity and differentiate instruction. By utilizing AI tools like Curripod, SlideGPT, Eduaide.ai, and Teachermatic, teachers can create personalized learning experiences, streamline administrative tasks, and empower students with immediate feedback. As educators, embracing AI can help us unlock new frontiers of educational excellence and foster a more engaging and effective classroom environment.

Remember, the world of technology is ever-evolving, and there is always something new to explore. Embrace the power of AI, and together let’s create a brighter future for our students!

About the author: Ruth Okoye

Dr. Ruth Okoye is the Director of K12 Initiatives at The Source for Learning. As a long-time technology coach, Ruth shares ideas and strategies for professional learning and thoughts on how to motivate yourself to “dig deeper” into educational technologies.

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