Mar 27, 2024 - Technology

Exclusive: Educators divided over AI's impact

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Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Educators are split on whether artificial intelligence will help or hinder their careers, according to results of a study by the AI Education Project, first shared with Axios.

Why it matters: Education has been touted as one of the areas that could benefit the most from AI, yet the advent of ChatGPT and other tools has also added fresh challenges for teachers already stretched thin.

By the numbers: The study, which surveyed more than 1,000 K-12 teachers and administrators, found nearly half of respondents believe AI won't significantly affect their employment opportunities.

  • About 28% believe that AI will be a boon to their careers, while 25% believe the impact will be negative.
  • Less-experienced educators were mostly likely to be fearful of AI's impact, with nearly two-thirds describing themselves as either "extremely fearful" or "somewhat fearful" of AI. While they were the most hesitant, their fears were shared by anywhere from 45% to 59% of those with more experience.
  • The survey showed a strong desire for more AI-specific resources, with 80% seeking more professional development for teachers and 75% supporting a curriculum that builds students' AI literacy.
  • Administrators were more likely to have used the technology than teachers, nearly half of whom had yet to try generative AI in either their personal or professional life.

The big picture: Education has emerged as an early AI flashpoint. Some schools were quick to ban students' use of ChatGPT and other tools, while other educators liken its arrival to that of the calculator, suggesting clear policies on acceptable use rather than blanket bans.

  • Longer-term, some have argued the use of generative AI could help teachers better understand where students are getting stuck and offer more personalized education to all.
  • Online education pioneer Sal Khan has been a big backer of this perspective, creating the Khanmigo chatbot within Khan Academy and aggressively adopting AI within his test schools.

Between the lines: Educators surveyed also see opportunities to harness AI for personalized learning, better lesson plans and improved assessment.

Yes, but: Those surveyed raised concerns around misinformation, cheating, equity and privacy.

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