AI and K-12 Education

AI and K 12 Education

By Steve Wick

I’ve been an educator for almost 30 years, and I’ve seen some pretty significant changes, but I can’t think of anything that has created more stir than the emergence of generative Artificial Intelligence as a tool for teaching and learning. The potential of AI is only limited by human imagination and creativity. My challenge to all educators is to start exploring AI today! What AI tools will you find and how can they be used to engage students?

The one constant in education is change. Change leads to growth, and this helps teachers and learners to explore and adapt learning to new tools and methodologies. While change can be challenging, most change leads to positive outcomes for learners. One of the fastest-moving changes I’ve seen in a long time is the growth of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI in education will surely challenge us to grow as educators and learners. I believe we are ready for the challenge and I am excited about the possibilities AI brings to support all learners.

AI has been working behind the scenes on many education platforms for years, but the newest generative AI tools can now generate text, translate languages, suggest tasks, create images, and more. They are literally popping up everywhere. The last year has witnessed an amazing expansion of these tools for students and teachers.

While many educators are excited to explore the potential of these new tools, there are others who view these with trepidation. The elephant in the room, of course, is that students will use generative AI to cheat. Some educators want to hide from AI using filters and plagiarism tools but don’t think this is a sustainable path. AI is not something we can run from, so it’s time to start exploring how AI can help.

Here are a few examples of how generative AI could be used enhance student learning experiences:

  • Creativity
    • AI image generators and editors can help students reflect on class content and share essential takeaways connected to a lesson or activity. AI generators can help students create images, graphics, summaries, and more.
    • AI writing tools can be adapted to become part of the writing process. I imagine activities that start with students responding to a prompt and then asking an AI tool to rewrite or generate a unique response. Students can then explore and reflect on the differences between their response and the AI response.
  • Critical Thinking
    • Formative assessment should be an essential part of learning. AI generators and AI formative tools can help teachers and students evaluate what we’ve learned and adapt future learning to help build understanding and correct misunderstandings.
    • AI can also help us engage students as we explore digital literacy. AI can become part of digital literacy programs as we explore AI tools. This can lead to additional topics including ethics, copyright, and fair use. AI can also be used to evaluate news and images.
    • AI can also provide critical feedback for students to revise and improve written responses.
  • Communication
    • Images and text can be great prompts for student discussion. AI generators can help students explore new ways of designing and sharing information.
    • Artificial intelligence can do much more than write papers for students. AI text generators can help teachers and students generate and revise text. Let’s think about how these tools can help revise structure, grammar, voice, and more as students write.
    • Students can even practice and build conversation and questioning skills with generative AI.
  • Collaboration
    • I think the simplest way we can use AI is as a learning partner or research assistant. AI can support students as they explore ideas and resources. Imagine a student who is struggling with a project or idea. Maybe the teacher or a partner is not available or doesn’t have an answer. Generative AI could help struggling students move forward.
    • Generative AI can also be a collaborative partner for teachers. There are some amazing AI tools that can help educators generate prompts, lessons, assessments, and more.

If we shift our thinking and get creative with AI, the sky’s the limit for its potential to support all learners. Similar to the growth of 1 to 1 classrooms over the last decade, AI has the potential to revolutionize some of the ways we teach and learn. It’s time for educators and students to start exploring how AI can enhance learning experiences. It’s time to revise some of the ways we engage and assess students. It’s time for us to get creative and take advantage of these new tools.

Editor’s Note: This blog is part of a series for Artificial Intelligence (AI) Appreciation Day, which is held annually on July 16. Click here to read more AI Day stories from rAVe [PUBS] and click here to read more AI Day stories from LAVNCH [CODE].

Steve Wick

Steve Wick

About the Author: Steve Wick is science teacher and instructional technology coordinator in the Indian Prairie School District in Illinois. He’s taught Science & Social Studies at the middle school and high school levels for 30 years. His focus as a learner is strongly connected to the 4Cs, instructional technology, G Suite for Education, formative assessment and student-centered learning. Helping students and teachers become lifelong learners is one of his greatest passions. Wick is a member of the board of directors for the Illinois Digital Educators Alliance, which aims to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. He can be found on Twitter at @WickedEdTech. Click here to read his blog.