Teachers’ thoughts on AI in the classroom

Many of you know that teachers this year were asked to include a policy on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their syllabi. Yet many teachers have different opinions on how AI should be used in the classroom. I asked three teachers–Mrs. Verdeur, Mr. Greenberg, and Professor Desai–about their opinions on this pressing topic. 

The first question I asked was, “Do you currently allow students to use AI for their work?” 

Not one of them allows their students to use AI at the moment for their work; however, some believe there are exceptions to this rule. While Mrs. Verdeur’s students are not permitted to use [AI] in [her] class,” Mr. Greenberg argues that “large language models like ChatGPT…have their place in [his] classroom, [just] not for every assignment.”

The next question I posed was “Have you had any thoughts on allowing students to use AI in the future?” 

Both Professor Desai and Mr. Greenberg said that they would allow students to use AI in the future. Prof. Desai said that for example, “if a student was writing a report and wanted to use ChatGPT as one of their sources, [use of AI would be permitted], as long as the student cited the sources correctly.” Similarly, Mr. Greenberg responded that “for certain assignments, [he] will give them the option, because “the tools are really useful but they are still in development and can often provide incorrect information.”

While both Prof. Desai and Mr.Greenberg agree that they would allow students to use AI in the future, Mrs. Verdeur is more doubtful. She said “My goal is to help give students the skills they need to read and write most effectively when they leave Agnes Irwin. I don’t see how generative AI will help them do that. I believe in the adage ‘never do for students what they can do for themselves.’ Just as it is harmful for tutors to write papers for students, it is just as harmful for AI to write papers for students. I don’t see any difference.” She added: “ Beyond classroom assignments, I see a larger danger  in the use of AI. The creation of literature, art, music and other forms of expression are part of what makes us human. Since AI can’t feel, think or empathize, it can’t create the kind of art that moves us forward as a culture. However, it can create the appearance of artistic works that put real artists out of business. I don’t want to encourage the use of something I see as a possible threat to social and cultural progress.”     

  As we see the use of AI increase, it continues to divide teachers and students on the correct way to use it and monitor its use. For some teachers like Mrs.Verdeur, it is something that should be avoided. While for others like Mr.Greenberg and Prof. Desai, it is a tool that should be used carefully and correctly. AI is only going to get better with time, and this conversation is just beginning; the discussion of its use and its future in the classroom will continue to be brought up. 

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