Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way into San Francisco classrooms to address pandemic-induced learning loss. However, the adoption of AI in education has sparked heated debates over its ethics and effectiveness. While the technology has shown remarkable progress in various fields, concerns about its safety and security have dominated recent headlines, leading experts and AI tech leaders to issue warnings about potential threats to human existence.
The promise and perils of AI in education
AI has demonstrated its potential in education, offering benefits such as creating study guides, streamlining classwork, and assisting with note-taking. Despite the promise AI holds, San Francisco-based companies have sought to gauge the perspectives of both teachers and students on its implementation before the upcoming fall semester. The results have revealed a digital and moral divide, as opinions on AI in the classroom are widely conflicting.
Teachers’ concerns and lack of training
A survey conducted by education software company Clever in June revealed that half of the teachers expressed concerns that AI could make their jobs more challenging within three years. The primary issue appears to be the lack of training in using AI technology, with 96% of teachers reporting that they have not received professional development or AI training.
The slow pace of change in high school classrooms
Despite the rapid advancement of AI, the pace of change in high school classrooms in the Bay Area has been slow, particularly in math and science classes. Some educators, like Piedmont High School science teacher Jon Savage, do not see a use for AI content generators like ChatGPT. Savage noted that most of his classes rely on memorization or skill-based learning, making AI shortcuts unnecessary.
The ethical dilemma of AI as a cheating resource
A national survey of teenagers found that 60% of students consider using AI for schoolwork as cheating, viewing it as akin to a “Cliff Notes-like resource.” The concern lies in the fact that AI does not teach students how to apply information to unique situations, a critical skill in the learning process.
Is Quizlet’s AI-powered tutor a solution to learning loss?
Employees at Quizlet, another San Francisco-based education company operating an AI-powered tutor, have a different perspective. They believe AI can help close the learning loss associated with the pandemic at a fraction of the cost of traditional tutoring. The AI study coach at Quizlet assists learners in improving their study habits and achieving deeper levels of learning beyond mere memorization.
The role of AI in college education
For college students like Sam Clement, who studies applied mathematics at UC Berkeley, AI tools like ChatGPT and Quizlet have been invaluable resources. Clement uses AI as a “24/7 genius tutor” to outline and explain complex mathematical concepts. He believes that AI’s benefits in the classroom are far from being fully discovered and advocates for its broader adoption among teachers.
Regardless of conflicting opinions, it is undeniable that AI is more than a passing fad. Some students and educators envision a future where AI is embraced in education, allowing every student to access its potential benefits. However, concerns about the unknown implications of widespread AI adoption persist.
How about classrooms in San Francisco?
We are concerned the gap has widened, especially in elementary schools. We have been working to improve supports and services for students, as well as to improve the distance learning experience while planning for in-person learning. But we know remote doesn’t replace in-person when it comes to serving our students. We want to return to sites as quickly as possible.Laura Dudnick, SFUSD spokesperson
Staff said in the same week of this interview that a big proposal about learning recovery is underway while funding specific to the effort is part of the state budget process. A comprehensive literacy strategy is crucial before it’s too late, said Lam and first-grade teacher Jeremiah Jeffries.
Read this to learn more about the state of distance learning for the same location. Whose brilliant idea is it to use AI in classrooms before rehabilitating the students from their isolation in the distance learning setup? Disparities among students have widened after nearly a year of distance learning, new data from San Francisco Unified School District shows. The gap will be wider by then when those who have benefited from AI are far advanced in their skills.
The introduction of AI into San Francisco classrooms has ignited debates over its ethics and effectiveness. While teachers express concerns about its impact on their roles and the lack of training, students are divided over whether AI represents a form of academic cheating or a valuable learning resource. Despite the conflicting opinions, AI’s presence in education is likely to grow, leaving educators and policymakers with the responsibility to navigate the challenges and opportunities it presents for future generations.