Artificial Intelligence Technology and Charlotte Schools
CHARLOTTE, NC — Artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard have the potential to revolutionize education. Proponents say it can provide teachers with new tools and resources to help them teach more effectively.
But at the same time, there are many concerns about the effects of artificial intelligence tools. One of the major concerns is the loss of jobs.
A Catawba County high school teacher embraces technology instead of fearing it.
Andrew Mosteller is a math teacher at Bunker Hill High School.
During Mosteller’s second year of teaching, he discovered ChatGPT.
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“I saw it on social media, a lot of people are using it, and I started reviewing it,” Mosteller said. “And I just decided to get creative with it and see how I can incorporate that into my class.”
It uses ChatGPT to create things like spreadsheets and floor plans.
“I could, I could say, write myself a 10-question worksheet on, say, Z-scores,” Mosteller said. “And so, he’ll think for a moment and very quickly generate a 10-question worksheet on the topic that I mentioned.”
Depending on who you ask, AI technology could eventually take over.
Mosteller does not subscribe to this thought.
“I think if we don’t take advantage of it, we’re going to be sorry in 5, 10, 15 years,” Mosteller said.
Brian Sathianathan, co-founder of Iterate.ai and AI expert, believes that AI technology has a place in schools, for both teachers and students.
“My advice to teachers is to get ahead because students are going to get ahead anyway,” Sathianathan said.
Sathianathan said AI is not a replacement for human creativity or intelligence, but it is a tool.
“Once you know how these technologies work, depending on the situation, you will become the best judge of whether to use it or not,” Sathianathan said. “Good, because the situations are specific. It’s not black or white.”
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Mosteller thinks he has found the middle ground.
He says teachers should be aware of its benefits and limitations.
“I think if we use that as a starting point, we put a human touch in what he generates,” Mosteller said. “It can take a job that normally takes you 30 minutes and take you five. It doesn’t necessarily eliminate your job, but it just makes it a lot easier.”
The AI conversation gets a little more confusing when it comes to students using the software.
ChatGPT is not on its students’ devices, but it indirectly influences their learning.
“I try to limit conversations with them about it,” Mosteller said. “Because I feel like they’re going to educate themselves about it through social media.”
At the same time, he’s trying to educate other teachers on how students can use an AI-powered tool.
“Students will try to take advantage of it,” Mosteller said. “Maybe not on the math side of things, because that’s a lot harder to do. But definitely on the English side of things.”
Most school districts and universities in our region told us that they are still in the early stages of reviewing policies and uses of AI technology in education.
Sathianathan likens ChatGPT and other AI resources to a calculator.
“When you were like a second grader, you can’t use a calculator in that class, can you?” Sathianathan said.
He said it was because you had to understand basic math concepts.
“But then when you’re a student or a high school student, it doesn’t matter, you can use the calculator, right?” Sathianathan said. “I mean, nobody, you know, walks into a test with a stack of papers with all your log tables.”
Sathianathan said AI, like a calculator, is a powerful and useful tool and when used correctly it works, but there are concerns.
“A lot of times kids go into this stretched out mode, where they want the media and the sources, the TikToks and all that stuff to constantly entertain them,” Sathianathan said. “It happens, but they don’t produce anything. So it’s something we want to monitor in education.”
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Simply put, AI should complement critical thinking skills, not replace them.
Sathianathan used the examples of social media and the internet as other technologies that initially caused fear and uncertainty but eventually gained wide acceptance and use.
“There are a lot of questions but over time it will grow and the issues of bias will be resolved and all of these things will be resolved over time,” Sathianathan said.
Sathianathan said it was important to be open to new technologies and learn how to use them effectively.
“Depending on level, depending on class, depending on situation, depending on class, right?” Sathianathan said. “You can use leverage on ChatGPT in a very, very powerful way.”
Mosteller said now is the time to familiarize yourself with technology, not after your students have.
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“I want to make sure I have all the tools the student has access to,” Mosteller said. “And sometimes you have to be creative and know how they might cheat before you cheat.”
We contacted dozens of schools and universities in the Charlotte area. Not all responded to our request, but the majority of those who responded do not have a direct policy towards AI.
Shamarria Morrison: Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorr[email protected] and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.