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‘The possibilities are truly endless’ | How educators in Blount County are embracing artificial intelligence

A recent survey by Junior Achievement shows 44% of teenagers who participated said they are “likely” to use artificial intelligence for their schoolwork.

MARYVILLE, Tenn. — How or if artificial intelligence should be used in educational settings is stirring up plenty of opinions, even within the walls of one Maryville school.

A recent survey by Junior Achievement shows 44% of teens who participated are “likely” to use AI to do their schoolwork instead of doing it themselves in the 2022-23 school year.

Inside Maryville High School, history teacher Alex Oldham teaches his students the past while preparing them for the future.

“Kids are going to come out of the school, and they’re going to go into these different professions that are going to be using the internet, social media, now AI. So, what’s my job as a teacher?” Oldham said.

As a teacher, he is embracing AI in more ways than one. His students use tools such as ChatGPT in the classroom, and he uses the technology to begin building his lessons.

“The possibilities are truly endless with it,” Oldham added. “I’ll have [the students], for example, compose a speech using ChatGPT, and then have them compose a speech individually.”

Meanwhile, English teacher Rachel Rushworth-Hollander approaches AI with some hesitation.

“It doesn’t have a labeled place in my instruction or classroom. It’s definitely part of the conversation,” she said.

The conversation, Rushworth-Hollander explained, factors in critical thinking and decision-making—skills she said are too important for students to lose.

“Our English department, we’ve had a lot of talks about how does AI fit in writing,” she added. “Because writing is such an important thing that we want our students to learn not just for writing a good essay, but the thought process that comes with writing is so important.”

 In Joel Smith’s science classroom, engineering students are becoming more familiar with the new technology.

“When I do my reports on projects, I sometimes put the words into ChatGPT and I ask it to lengthen it,” 15-year-old Parker Jensen said.

This school year, Jensen used ChatGPT for the first time. Smith said it’s part of his classroom expectations.

“It is expected now for all the projects that they do that they utilize ChatGPT to help them if they get stuck, if they want to check the tone of their writing, if they want to check the formatting,” Smith added.

Similar to the introduction of the calculator or the internet, Smith said the implementation of AI means it’s time to raise the bar for effective education.

To get a better idea of how ChatGPT works, I decided to try it out for myself.

I inserted this prompt into the program: “Write a broadcast news story about how artificial intelligence is used in schools.”

In about five seconds, it provided me with a complete script. Here it is:

Anchor: Good evening, I’m [Your Name], and welcome to [Channel Name]. Tonight, we bring you a special report on the rapidly evolving role of artificial intelligence in our education system. From personalized learning to improved administrative tasks, AI is making its mark in schools across the country.

[SEGMENT 1: Personalized Learning]

Reporter: In an era where education is evolving at a rapid pace, AI is playing a pivotal role in tailoring education to the unique needs of each student. Many schools have adopted AI-powered platforms to provide personalized learning experiences. These platforms assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses, adapting the curriculum accordingly.

Teacher: With AI, I can focus more on individualized instruction. It helps me identify where each student needs support and challenges them appropriately.

[SEGMENT 2: Administrative Efficiency]

Reporter: It’s not just in the classroom where AI is making a difference. School administrators are also reaping the benefits of AI in managing their institutions more efficiently. From automating routine administrative tasks to managing resources, AI is streamlining operations.

Principal: AI has significantly reduced our administrative workload, allowing us to focus more on strategic planning and enhancing the overall school experience.

[SEGMENT 3: Ethical Concerns]

Reporter: While AI in schools holds great promise, it’s not without its share of concerns. Critics worry about privacy and data security issues, as well as the potential for bias in AI algorithms. There are ongoing discussions about ensuring that AI is used responsibly.

Parent: I appreciate the benefits AI brings to my child’s education, but I also want to make sure their data is protected and that the AI algorithms are fair and unbiased.

[SEGMENT 4: Preparing Students for the Future]

Reporter: One of the goals of integrating AI into education is to prepare students for the future job market. With AI becoming increasingly prevalent in various industries, students who have a basic understanding of AI technologies will have an advantage.

Student: Learning about AI in school has been eye-opening. I now have a better grasp of the technology shaping our world, and it makes me excited for future career opportunities.

[SEGMENT 5: The Way Forward]

Reporter: As we move forward, the integration of AI in schools will likely continue to evolve. It’s crucial that educators, parents, and policymakers work together to strike a balance between harnessing the benefits of AI and addressing its challenges.

Expert: The future of education is undeniably intertwined with AI. The key is to ensure that AI is used as a tool to enhance education, not as a replacement for the human touch that teachers provide.

Anchor: In conclusion, artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way we teach and learn in schools. While the benefits are evident, there are still important ethical and practical considerations to address. The key to success is to find the right balance that prepares our students for a future where AI plays a significant role while safeguarding their privacy and ensuring equity in education. Thank you for joining us on this journey into the world of AI in schools.

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Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama, a lifelong enthusiast of Artificial Intelligence, has been exploring technology and the digital realm since childhood. Known for his creative thinking, he's dedicated to improving AI experiences for all, making him a respected figure in the field. His passion, curiosity, and creativity drive advancements in the AI world.


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