By Tylar Bloch

Chatbots such as ChatGPT are great at giving us answers fast. But many educators are finding that the speed at which these answers are generated comes at a cost to students’ learning.

When kids can easily generate responses to an English essay prompt or a question about photosynthesis on their science worksheet, they can seriously cut down on their homework time and falsify proof of their subject knowledge. Moreover, the generative text is often so humanlike that it can be difficult to tell it was produced by AI.

Relying on these chatbots for copy-and-paste solutions can cause students to lose out on key elements of learning. Being able to supply the correct answer is in no way a substitute for the work that goes into understanding how systems fit together or how cogent arguments are formed. Even if students add to or modify parts of an AI-generated answer, there’s a murky line between using something as inspiration and merely changing a few words here and there to fake authenticity.

The impact of these new capabilities is real, with more and more classrooms pivoting to a “flipped” model in which lessons are taught at home and their learning assessed at school. While the effectiveness of flipped classrooms still isn’t clear, it highlights the growing challenge that schools face in a world in which technology can serve us to virtually any end.

Responding to this issue of chatbots being ill suited to learning, platforms such as Khan Academy are getting creative. Their newest chatbot Khanmigo aims to make obtaining an answer with AI much more educational. For example, instead of simply telling a student the answer to a basic math question, Khanmigo will try to ask a series of follow-up questions that can help guide the student to finding the answer themselves. They hope that by delaying the answer with these middle steps, students can use AI in a way that enhances rather than undermines their learning.

As AI becomes more prevalent in the classroom, families and educators will need to meaningfully adapt to the way students obtain and process information. Similar to how Khanmigo offers a more interactive model of learning, schools should consider how to strike the right level of friction when it comes to AI tools that generate answers. They should also continue to explore how AI learning tools can lead to more personalized and equitable instruction for a wider range of students.

Ultimately, relearning how we learn in the age of AI is a daunting but exciting challenge for families, educators, and policymakers. The future is here—let’s make it count.

Conversation Starters

  1. How has the arrival of generative AI changed the way you view reading and writing?
  2. If you use AI regularly, what do you primarily use it for?
  3. How should we redefine plagiarism in the age of AI?
  4. What are some of the best uses of AI in the classroom?
  5. Do you have any first-hand experience with flipped classrooms? How have you felt about them?

Resources


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