Three simple ways to use AI to empower teaching and learning

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Nada Alnounou
Group of individuals sitting in a computer lab while an instructor discusses information on device.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been the hot topic on the block for a few years, and there are mixed feelings about it.

Some people fear its potential for misuse and academic dishonesty. However, conversations about AI in higher education have broadened to encompass this technology’s tremendous ability to positively transform teaching and learning. Our job as educators is to bridge the daunting gap of the unknown and help our students learn how to use this new tool at their disposal. Instead of shying away from this incredibly useful resource, we should be instructing students on the moral and appropriate ways to utilize AI.

Here are a few ways that AI can be used to enhance and empower classroom instruction.

Enrich student comprehension. Teachers can use AI to help drive students’ thinking patterns and cultivate their curiosity about the concepts being taught. Teachers are usually the ones asking the questions in a classroom. However, students can learn a lot by asking questions of their own, and AI can serve as a good tool to help them explore.

Try this: give students a topic (e.g. inverse functions) and task them with asking AI to explain this topic using one question only. Their task is complete once they have succeeded in asking one question and receiving the “perfect explanation.” Give parameters as to what qualifies as the “perfect explanation.” This will drive the students to try multiple ways of phrasing their questions in hopes of receiving a better answer from ChatGPT. You will be surprised by how much students can analyze and internalize information if they are driving the questioning process. By the end of this task, students will be able to understand the full concept and be able to build upon it.

Help instructors and students brainstorm. Technology will keep improving, and that will transform how instruction needs to be delivered. The newest generation of students is more comfortable when their learning is integrated with technology. Soon, using the board won’t be enough. We will need to capture their attention --- and keep it --- using other methods. AI is a great tool for discovering new ways to teach that are in keeping with the current generation’s comfort zone. For example, I have been experimenting with teaching mathematical concepts using virtual reality. This idea and the research were supported by AI. The sky is the limit. This tool can now help us find relevant information and save valuable time that can be used to further our work.

Try this: AI tools can help create lists of ideas, explore different perspectives, and suggest unique angles on a topic. Ahead of a project or assignment, ask students to use AI to generate a list of ideas or topics. If students have a great main idea, AI can suggest related articles and research papers that will help expand their knowledge base.

Support student learning 24/7. In my opinion, one of the best things AI can do is offer 24/7 help to our students, which is something we can’t do, no matter how accommodating we are. With AI, students can ask for and receive help whenever they need it. This use of AI, however, is dependent on student literacy and comfort with using AI. We need to use it often in the classroom and instruct them on the appropriate ways of utilizing it, only then can we ask them to lean on it when we’re not available.

Try this: Set aside some class time to model how students can use AI to breakdown complex problems or help explain a difficult concept. Have students brainstorm a list of questions they have about a topic you’re currently covering in class. Then, instead of answering their questions yourself, walk them through a few real-time examples of AI prompt writing that will guide them to the explanations.

The sky is the limit, so we need to broaden our horizons and be brave enough to explore. Our students need to cultivate their sense of curiosity and thirst for discovery. We can enable them to do so by practicing our own. Remember to have fun, my brave fellows.