What teachers want from AI

Future of Learning

A newsletter from The Hechinger Report

By Javeria Salman

In this article by Javeria Salman, published in The Hechinger Report, educators are introduced to the evolving role of AI in education, highlighting its potential to transform teaching and learning. The article emphasizes how AI tools, created by teachers, can address specific student needs and alleviate some of the burdens on educators.

Over five weeks in the spring, approximately 300 educators, including teachers, school and district leaders, higher education faculty, education consultants, and AI researchers, participated in a professional development workshop. This initiative was organized by the nonprofit Playlab.ai in collaboration with the Relay Graduate School of Education. Many participants experienced their first encounter with generative AI models and coding during this workshop. The objective was to empower educators to develop their own AI tools to address specific challenges in their classrooms.

The workshop led to the creation of various AI tools. For instance, Karen Zutali, an English teacher from Canton City School District in Ohio, designed a chatbot to assist English teachers in creating lesson plans and projects that integrate other subjects. Using the Playlab.ai platform builder, Zutali programmed the AI chatbot with expertise in project and problem-based learning, guiding teachers through step-by-step processes to develop detailed lesson plans tailored to their subjects.

These AI tools were primarily designed to support students in subjects like math and English, providing instant feedback on assignments and projects. Additionally, some tools aimed to reduce teacher workloads by aiding in lesson planning and generating project ideas. A notable example includes Nkomo Morris, a special education teacher at The James Baldwin School in New York City, who developed an AI chatbot to help social studies teachers create activities and games for their lessons. Morris pointed out that while education technology companies often lack a deep understanding of classroom needs, teachers can develop tools that are highly tailored to their specific requirements using platforms like Playlab.ai.

Yusuf Ahmad, co-founder of Playlab.ai, stressed the importance of professional development for teachers in AI. He emphasized that educators should be equipped to critically evaluate AI tools and adapt them to enhance their teaching and student learning. Ahmad highlighted the potential for teachers to not only use but also create and modify AI technology to fit their unique classroom contexts.

The demand for AI professional development is significant, as evidenced by the high enrollment and waitlist for the Playlab.ai/Relay workshop. Additionally, two education nonprofits, Leading Educators and the Learning Accelerator, have initiated a year-long fellowship to help school districts study and implement AI best practices. This fellowship aims to support ten school districts in developing effective AI strategies.

In summary, the article underscores the transformative potential of AI in education when teachers are given the tools and training to create tailored solutions for their classrooms. This approach not only addresses specific student needs but also empowers educators to take control of technology integration in their teaching practices.

Source: Salman, J. (2024, July 9). Future of Learning. The Hechinger Report. https://www.hechingerreport.org/future-of-learning/

Original Article

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Prepared with the assistance of AI software

OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (4) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com

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