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How schools are using AI technology

High school senior Aaron Ton says that he’s seen the rise of AI heighten competition between students. (Courtesy of Aaron Ton)
High school senior Aaron Ton says that he’s seen the rise of AI heighten competition between students. (Courtesy of Aaron Ton)

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Education technology to support learning and teaching is nothing new. But artificial intelligence is its newest iteration, from chatbot tutoring to planning lessons and providing feedback.

Michael Elsen-Rooney, reporter with Chalkbeat New York, says teachers are increasingly thinking about utilizing AI in their classrooms.

“Now that we’re a year or more into this technology being widely available, it’s more of a question of, ‘This is here. It’s here to stay. How do you incorporate it in responsible ways into your class?’” Elsen-Rooney says.

And it’s not just teachers using AI. High school seniors Paige Rowell at Westlake High School in South Fulton, Georgia, and Aaron Ton at Mariner High School in Everett, Washington, are taking advantage of artificial intelligence too. They say they use it to help them understand assignments and organize their thoughts.

But Ton says that he’s seen the rise of AI heighten competition between students.

“That’s something that I do fear that can arise and has already arisen out of the opportunity of AI being implemented into our learning,” Ton says, “but not something that you can completely control, which is kind of terrifying.”

3 questions about AI in schools

How do teachers feel about the rise of AI in classrooms?

Michael Elsen-Rooney: “I think there’s still a lot of fear and uncertainty. For a lot of teachers, when this technology first emerged, there were just so many concerns about how it could transform things in the classroom. A lot of teachers were just really wary from that end and not really thinking about how to bring it in, but more about how to guard against its potential negative effects.

“There are still real concerns and questions about students overusing or misusing this technology when it comes to writing essays, for example. Teachers are still grappling with that.

“There are a lot of tools out there that can theoretically help you tell whether something’s been written by AI, but those tools all have their own flaws. I think teachers are still trying to figure that all out.”

How do students use AI?

Senior Paige Rowell uses AI to help organize her thoughts when starting assignments. (Courtesy of Paige Rowell)

Paige Rowell: “I have used AI as a useful resource. Sometimes I might be given a topic that might not be the most interesting to me. I use the AI to get me started on the right track. From there, I can take it into my own hands and finish out my thought process.”

Aaron Ton: “I use AI a lot to help strengthen my writing in terms of what ideas to put down onto the screen or onto paper. I use Grammarly a lot, and there’s a feature that’s called Grammarly Go. It doesn’t write for you, but it reads your writing and it says things like … what could be strengthened, or what topics that you can go deeper in. It’s all free and it really helps me strengthen my writing.”

How can students and teachers see eye-to-eye on AI usage?

Elsen-Rooney: “I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that students are going to come into contact with [(AI]). We’ve heard from many of the students that we’ve spoken to that if they’re not using it themselves, they know of classmates who are. It’s really out there.

“That doesn’t mean that students are using it to cheat and to write essays, and a lot of students don’t want that to be the assumption from their teachers. Just finding a way to have those discussions without leaping to any conclusions is a really helpful starting point for teachers.”


Hafsa Quraishi produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Catherine Welch. Quraishi adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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