There have been highly charged debates and thousands of news reports about the ethical implications of AI and how students can cheat, avoid learning associated with critical thinking, and shortcut the education system. Most stories emphasize the potential threats to K-12 and higher ed rather than highlighting the benefits of using these tools for good.
One often overlooked application of artificial intelligence is the proven benefits to teachers and administrators who can presently use this technology to reduce the time it takes to create highly engaging lessons, complete tedious administrative tasks, and turn educational content, such as textbooks, into videos youth want to watch. Priceless time can now be directed toward engaging kids, providing more individualized attention, and helping them succeed.
Here are three ways that AI can create efficiencies for teachers and improve school system effectiveness while fostering higher levels of student interest:
1. AI brings personalized learning to life. Widescale success cannot be achieved by the traditional, now-dated school model of lecturing to kids from a chalkboard at the front of a classroom—or gauging student potential based on test scores. While AI can bring benefits to teaching on a mass scale, a good deal of its value comes from helping reach children of all needs, in a customized manner, one student at a time.
With AI, gone are the days of teaching to the top of the class while other students flounder or fail. Already there are highly sophisticated one-on-one AI-driven tutoring systems that cultivate deep understanding and knowledge on an individualized basis while building confidence and empowerment among greater numbers of learners.
2. Turn textbooks into interactive media that improves learning outcomes. Video’s appeal and popularity are unquestionable. Tens of millions of kids and adults consume and learn from videos daily. Volumes of data show that they can have a powerful impact on teaching and learning.
According to a study we recently conducted, AI-generated lessons from teacher-approved materials and textbooks generated better learning outcomes. Through patented AI technology that is now available, textbooks can now be scanned and turned into quality first-draft video lessons using a teacher’s realistic avatar—or an avatar (with a non-robotic voice) derived from a subject that a class is studying (e.g., Thomas Edison, Jane Austen, Martin Luther King Jr., and countless others).
We found that students watching a teacher-produced video answered an average of 60% of the questions about it correctly, while the group shown the AI-avatar video achieved an average of 75% correct answers. This improvement suggests that the AI-assisted approach to content development enhances student understanding and retention of the subject matter. In addition, we asked students which teacher they found easier to understand and pay attention to; 49.5% of the respondents preferred the AI instructor while only 22% favored the teacher alone.
3. AI brings meaning back to teaching. Our nation’s teachers need help—and fast. A typical teacher works about 54 hours a week, with just under half of that time devoted to directly teaching students. It’s therefore no surprise that up to 63% of educators are considering leaving the profession in the next three years and fewer young people are considering teaching as a viable career.
AI can help, so why not let it. It can ensure teachers save their irreplaceable time and reduce burnout. From our most recent research, we found that a teacher using an AI teaching assistant to create an engaging video lesson saves 15.5X of their time versus one who develops their own from scratch. Think about it: 15.5 hours (without AI) to just one hour harnessing technology’s potential.
The time previously spent doing research, designing slides, searching for images, drafting and editing the narration, and sitting down to record their talk can now be spent with students. AI can also greatly reduce administrative tasks like grading homework, creating spreadsheets, calculating student progress, and identifying learning needs and trends. This way, teachers can spend more of their time actually teaching – and get home from work at a reasonable hour.
Ethical implications of AI: The reality, really!
The advent of social media brought fear, excitement, skepticism, and optimism. AI brings the same, and we need to embrace the positives and put them to good use for the betterment of students and teachers.
The edtech market is estimated to reach $421 billion by 2032 and, undoubtedly, AI will be a major contributor. AI is here to stay (regardless of those who are opposed to the notion of machine learning) as demonstrated by its current use in so many things we touch, purchase, and experience as consumers and businesspeople.
AI is not new, but it’s getting better and more intuitive. We must seize this moment of opportunity and use technology to level the playing field—and resuscitate struggling teachers and tuned-out learners. Yes, there are legitimate ethical implications of AI, such as how technologies like ChatGPT can lead to cheating on assignments, but these should be addressed head-on so they don’t distract from the myriad of benefits AI brings to America’s classrooms, teachers, and students.
So, cheating aside, let’s employ AI in ethical ways and enable our schools to spend more time on experiential learning, career exploration, skills development, and other meaningful activities that will ensure the success of all students.