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Embracing AI in Education: How Some Educators are Welcoming AI and Large Language Models into the Classroom

The upcoming academic year is introducing artificial intelligence (AI), specifically large language models like ChatGPT, into classrooms. While some school districts ban AI use, others allow teachers to decide.

The upcoming academic year is poised to introduce a new "student" into many classrooms: artificial intelligence, specifically in the form of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT. 

While some school districts have outright banned AI use by students, others are taking a more flexible approach, allowing teachers to decide how to integrate AI into their teaching methods. In fact, certain educators are even embracing AI as a valuable tool for enhancing learning experiences.

Educational Diversity: The AI Divide

Educational institutions have exhibited a range of responses to AI integration:

Bans and Restrictions: Several school districts have chosen to prohibit students from utilizing AI tools.

Teacher Discretion: Some institutions have granted educators the authority to determine whether AI should be used in their classrooms.

Active Integration: A group of educators, like Dan Wang, a sociology professor at Columbia Business School, are intentionally incorporating AI into their teaching strategies.

Dan Wang's Perspective: Preparing for the Workplace

Wang's approach to AI integration is proactive and forward-looking. He believes that exposing students to generative AI tools is essential, as they will likely encounter such technologies in their future workplaces. Rather than shielding students from AI, he encourages its usage as a way to familiarize students with its benefits and limitations. He sees the classroom as an ideal environment to cultivate this understanding.

Benefits and Constraints: Wang's approach involves having students use AI platforms for various tasks, including research assistance and creative support.

Preparing for the Future: By incorporating AI into coursework, Wang believes students gain a deeper comprehension of how to effectively leverage these tools in professional settings.

A Different Grading Approach

While Wang actively involves AI in student assignments, he chooses not to rely on AI for grading. He values the personal touch of human evaluation and the care it demonstrates to students.

Graham Glass's Perspective: Changing Evaluation Methods

Graham Glass, an AI expert and CEO of Cypher Learning, advocates for a fundamental shift in how student work is evaluated. Instead of futilely policing AI's use, he suggests changing assessment methods to accommodate AI.

Additive Integration: Glass encourages educators to require AI use as part of the learning process, rather than stifling its adoption.

Thinking Creatively with AI: Glass envisions assignments that challenge students to use AI collaboratively and creatively, leading to more meaningful learning experiences.

Preparing for an AI-Driven Future: Glass believes that integrating AI into assignments prepares students for an AI-driven world, where humans and AI collaborate to achieve novel outcomes.

As the new academic year approaches, the role of AI in education remains a topic of active debate. Educators like Dan Wang and Graham Glass are taking distinct approaches to AI integration, with Wang immersing students in AI tools to prepare them for the workplace and Glass advocating for creative and collaborative AI-assisted assignments.

The educational landscape is evolving, and as AI becomes more prevalent, innovative teaching strategies are emerging to equip students for the future.