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Educators share thoughts on A.I. in the classroom

With the growing use of generative AI, educators may be thinking about on how they plan to address the technology this upcoming school year.

Kalle Slocter, is a physics teacher at Centennial High School. He says his favorite part of teaching is seeing his students overcome something they found difficult. This year, he says he plans to talk with his students about AI, because he’s already caught some using the technology in the classroom when it wasn’t allowed.

"I have yes , I do very few essay style questions or you know assignments and there have been a couple students that definitely have done it, I caught them and you know they admitted it, they used chatGPT to synthesize an essay," Slocter said.

Making sure that educators have the proper knowledge on A-I is something that Jamie Patterson, Secondary Social Studies Content Specialist for Las Cruces Public Schools says is important.

"The first thing is what it is so I think that all teachers should be aware of AI tools there capability what they can do, how students might be using them and then to kind of start thinking about how that may reshapes some skills in our classrooms and how we need to be using them as well so I think the number one thing is education for all what is this, how does it work and how is it impacting everybody including those cheating formats that we talked about," Patterson said.

Patterson says there’s mixed reaction to this technology being in the classroom.

"Yeah I think right now it is kind of we are seeing a variety of feelings  towards this, there is a lot of concerns about plagiarism as there should be, there is concern about computers doing thinking for students, there is concern about what the future holds and what this looks like. So there is concern for sure but there is always been concern , we’ve always worried about students cheating, we've always worried about that looks like and we've always been trying to outsmart the technology."

National education leaders have shared research on A-I and how it may impact learning in the long term. Roberto Rodriguez is the U.S. Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for the Office Of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, which includes the Office Of Educational Technology. He says right now, there are some issues with AI to focus on.

"The key here with AI in education is to minimize the risk and to maximize the return for kids. Our department of education has recently release a report AI in future of teaching and learning and there were really emphasizing the importance of making sure that teachers are in the loop and how AI is used, and how is it designed , and how it supports students learning so there is no substitute for good teaching and for a great teacher in front of every student and we wanna make sure that as we think about AI in our classrooms and in the learning for our students that our teachers are fully supported and that AI have some right to support student learning in classrooms," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says it’s important to respect student’s rights while always keeping safety in mind.

"Well you know I think we have to make sure that first and foremost we are supporting the safety, the privacy and the security of our students that has to be a fundamental part of any use of AI in education so we have to first and foremost ask that question is this tool that’s being used in instruction or in teaching in education," Rodriguez said.

Balancing that approach may be important for educators to keep up with this technology that is already being used in some form in local classrooms, according to Jamie Patterson.

"So we have AI in some of our programs, we use canva with our students and that has some AI features that teachers are looking at, ChatGPT of course talking about some of those things. We are still grappling with that in ourselves so we  wanna make sure that whatever our messages is the right message instead of a reaction message," Patterson said.

Sending the right message may help education officials get the feedback they need for this technology to make a positive impact in the classroom.

Rima Joukhadar is a Centennial High School graduate and former participant of the Doña Ana County Summer Enrichment Internship Program at KRWG Public Media.
Marco Becerra is a former participant of the 2023 Doña Ana County Summer Enrichment program at KRWG Public Media.