Teachers trying out AI, but use of the tools are on the ‘bleeding edge’ in schools – 13WHAM-TV

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A new report shows America’s teachers are dipping their toes in the waters of artificial intelligence.

Many who are using AI tools have taken the initiative without mandates or formal guidance.

And school leaders generally seem to be in favor of AI as something that can help busy teachers save time on “drudge work,” said Sy Doan, an expert in education policy with the RAND Corp. research organization and one of the report’s co-authors.

RAND surveyed and interviewed educators across the country last fall and this winter.

They found that 18% of K–12 teachers are using AI. Another 15% have tried AI at least once.

Middle and high school teachers and those who taught English language arts or social studies were more likely to be AI users, according to RAND.

Most were using virtual learning platforms, adaptive learning systems, and chatbots, according to the report.

Teachers used AI to adapt and generate materials for the classroom.

Doan said the use of AI in the classroom is on the “bleeding edge right now.”

Only a quarter of district leaders told RAND that they provided anything in terms of formal guidance or training in the use of AI tools for teachers, he said.

But both teachers and district leaders expect the use of AI to expand.

Sixty percent of districts told RAND that they planned to train teachers about AI use by the end of this school year.

“It seems that the vast majority of teachers using these things, they are kind of doing it and trying to see what fits, what works within (their) schedules, what sort of needs they sort of have,” Doan said.

Teachers said concerns over AI’s role in society as a whole was the top barrier to expanded use in the classroom.

But teachers also said a lack of official guidance was also a big reason holding back the spread of AI in schools.

Teachers also mentioned concerns about data privacy and potential biases.

Earlier this week, an expert in how technology affects education shared questions schools should be asking before taking the leap on “shiny new, very promising” AI tools.

  • Which educational problem does the product solve?
  • Is there evidence that a product works?
  • Did educators and students help develop the product?
  • What educational beliefs shape this product?
  • Does the product level the playing field?

“There’s been a lot of promises about technology and education, and oftentimes those have failed educators,” George Veletsianos, a professor of learning technologies at the University of Minnesota, said Tuesday.

Veletsianos suggested “cautious optimism” about adopting AI in schools.

A previous study pointed to the power of AI as a brainstorming tool for students, but not without its potential pitfalls.

And Stanford education scholars have found that concerns about students using AI to cheat seem to be overblown, at least so far.

Doan said RAND’s survey found teachers are often using AI to prepare behind the scenes, rather than directly incorporating it into student work.

He said teachers might use AI to make grade-level adjustments to lesson plans. Or they might use AI for translation or to help them communicate with parents.

“Teachers have said things like, ‘You know, I have this vocabulary worksheet, and I just kind of want to make another version of this vocabulary worksheet,’” Doan said.

Leveraging AI in the classroom to improve student learning seems to be “sort of like the next frontier of these tools,” Doan said.

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