Teaching with AI: How quickly are we transforming K12?

AI may well transform education but a new survey shows that fewer than one in five teachers have used the latest technology in the classroom.

Mad dash does not describe how most teachers are approaching artificial intelligence as a learning tool. On National AI Literacy Day, a new survey shows that AI may well transform education but fewer than one in five educators are teaching with AI in the classroom.

Surprisingly, perhaps, 9% of teachers surveyed had never heard of AI, according to a survey released this week by the RAND Corporation, a research nonprofit.

Meanwhile, the district leaders interviewed by the think tank were less concerned about restricting the technology and were focused on convincing teachers and students to experiment with AI tools. One superintendent interviewed by RAND had teachers use AI to develop “essential questions” in their content areas to determine if instruction was meeting students’ needs.

Another district tasked coaches with developing a training program to mentor new teachers on differentiating instruction with AI. In fact, a majority of districts (60%) say they will have provided AI professional development by the end of this school year.

Who’s teaching with AI?

Teachers who have welcomed AI into their classrooms are most often using it to “modify instructional materials, adapt instructional content to fit it to the level of their students and to generate materials,” RAND says. These teachers are tapping into virtual learning platforms, adaptive learning systems and chatbots—and doing so on a weekly basis.

Middle and high school teachers and those who teach English and social studies are the most likely to use AI. One reason is that English and social studies teachers are more likely to customize their curriculum or create their own lessons than are math teachers. Most teachers who use AI expect to make it an even bigger part of their practice going forward, the survey found.

Researchers also asked teachers who are and aren’t using AI about the barriers to adoption. Both groups were concerned about a lack of training, data privacy and “the role of AI in society as a whole,” RAND noted. Teachers who are leveraging AI are also worried about bias in the technology.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is the managing editor of District Administration and a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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