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The integration of technology into education has been a subject of ongoing debate over the past few decades. From the advent of personal computers to the proliferation of the internet and mobile devices, technology has consistently reshaped the ways that students learn and educators teach. With each technological leap, there has also been a corresponding wave of pushback and skepticism.

Today, we stand on the precipice of another significant transformation, as artificial intelligence (AI) infiltrates our classrooms. As AI makes its way into more and more applications around the world, it is important that we examine the current advantages and disadvantages of AI in education, and explore how AI can be harnessed positively to revolutionize the educational landscape.

Technology in classrooms

Figure 1. Commodore 64. Photo credit: Luca Boldrini, Wikimedia Commons

The history of modern technology in education is a story of persistent innovation — as well as resistance. Throughout the 20th century, various technological advances made their way into classrooms, often met with skepticism and resistance from educators, parents, and policymakers.1

One of the earliest milestones in the history of digital technology in education was the introduction of personal computers in the 1980s. Devices like the Apple II and Commodore 64 brought the power of computation and interactive learning to students. However, their adoption was slow, partly due to the high costs and limited availability. Critics also argued that these machines might distract students more than they would aid in learning.

The widespread adoption of the internet in the 1990s revolutionized education by providing unprecedented access to information. However, it also sparked concerns about the quality of online content and the potential for students to fall prey to misinformation and distractions.1 These concerns continue to be relevant in today’s digital age. The proliferation of mobile devices and smartphones in the 2000s marked another significant turning point in the evolution of technology in education. These devices offer students the ability to access educational content anywhere, anytime. Yet, they have also raised concerns about screen time, cyberbullying, and distractions in the classroom.

As technology has advanced, so has the rate of utilization, with 97% of United States adults now owning cellphones, 90% of those being smartphones.2 New technology tends to disrupt the old way of doing things, which can be seen in the ownership of desktops and laptop computers (which is down from an 80% high in 2012).3

The impact of technology advances can be seen in education as well. Students can use smartphones to enact learning strategies,4 seek help,5 and engage in collaboration6; at the same time, their use can positively impact the science classroom.7 The proliferation of smartphones has certainly been beneficial to the chemistry classroom, where students can take pictures of lab results, use Bluetooth to connect to a variety of probes (such as pH and temperature) to collect data, and use a variety of apps to share data and collaborate on writing. Despite the concerns outlined above, I would argue that modern technology has improved the classroom or, at the very least, is now ubiquitous in education.

ChatGPT, one of many readily available AIs, is a large language model that allows the user to choose the length, format, level of detail, and language of the response they receive.8 The dialog function of ChatGPT allows it to answer follow-up questions, admit mistakes, and better provide users with the information they desire. Launched in November 2022, ChatGPT required just five days to reach 1 million users9 and stands to be the next piece of technology that will enable us to rethink how we go about our daily lives.

Throughout these technological advancements, a consistent theme has been pushback and skepticism. Critics have argued that technology can never replace the guidance and mentorship of human educators. There are also concerns about privacy, data security, and the digital divide that puts students with limited access to technology at a disadvantage. Moreover, some educators worry that over-reliance on technology may stifle critical thinking and creativity. Based on the potential risks outlined above, there are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed regarding AI. However, just as in previous decades, technology again appears poised to enter classrooms, alter how we view education, and, ideally, enhance the experience for educators and students. 

Potential concerns around AI in the classroom

AI can generate valuable insights from the vast amounts of data generated in educational settings. Educators can use this data to identify trends, pinpoint areas for improvement, and make data-informed decisions. However, the collection and analysis of student data by AI systems raise serious privacy concerns.10 Unauthorized access, data breaches, and misuse of personal information are potential risks, so ensuring robust data protection is essential.

In addition, critics argue that AI-driven education may lead to a dehumanized learning experience, with reduced face-to-face interactions and emotional support from educators. This possibility can strike fear into educators, particularly when researchers are writing articles like “Why Not Robot Teachers; Artificial Intelligence for Addressing Teacher Shortage.”11 The human touch in teaching is considered invaluable and irreplaceable by many.

AI algorithms are not immune to biases present in the data they are trained on. This can result in unfair or discriminatory outcomes, disadvantaging certain groups of students. For example, evidence of racial bias has been found in the Post Conviction Risk Assessment, an AI algorithm designed to determine the level of supervision an inmate requires post-release.12 Another concern involves AI’s effect of reinforcing gender stereotypes, due to the fact that the countless news articles used to train AI may have some of those stereotypes embedded in them.13

Careful monitoring and ethical considerations are necessary to mitigate these biases. Not all educational institutions have the resources or infrastructure to adopt AI seamlessly. Smaller schools or underprivileged communities may lag in harnessing the benefits of AI in education, exacerbating educational inequalities.

Utilizing AI in the classroom

Meta-analyses shows consistent, positive effects from the use of technology in the classroom.14 AI can be a powerful tool for educators. It can assist in curriculum development, provide real-time feedback on teaching practices, and identify areas where students need additional support. By automating routine tasks, AI can enable educators to spend more time on personalized instruction and mentorship.15

Figure 2. Tutoring prompt generated by ChatGPT to help students create their own tutoring program on the topic of stoichiometry.
Tutoring prompt generated by ChatGPT

AI-powered tools and platforms offer various advantages (and disadvantages) that warrant careful consideration. One of the most promising aspects of AI in education is its ability to provide personalized learning experiences.10 AI algorithms can analyze students’ strengths and weaknesses, adapt content accordingly, and offer targeted recommendations. This tailoring capability ensures that each student progresses at their own pace and receives the support they need.

Figure 2 depicts a prompt provided by ChatGPT that my students and I used during the last 30 minutes of one of our classes. Near the end of that time, I walked around and took note of the progress of each student. This allowed students to receive individualized instruction throughout, while I knew exactly where students were in their learning when they left my class.

AI can streamline administrative tasks for educators, such as grading assignments and managing attendance (Baidoo-Anu, “Education in the era”). This allows teachers to dedicate more time to providing actual instruction and individualized support for students. In the example shown in Figure 3, I used ChatGPT to write a Python code that would track student attendance, notify me after any student reached a certain number of absences, and then create and send them an automated email explaining my attendance concern and the importance of attending class.

Figure 3. Python code created by ChatGPT to track attendance and send automated emails.
a bonding triangle diagram

In addition, AI-driven chatbots can assist students by answering routine queries, freeing educators for more meaningful interactions. AI can also make education more accessible to students with disabilities. Text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities, for example, can aid students with visual or auditory impairments. AI-driven translation tools can also help English language learners.

As I have become more familiar with utilizing ChatGPT, it has drastically reduced my lesson preparation time. After a minimal learning curve, you can create quizzes, exams, activities, guided notes, and rubrics in ChatGPT (or any AI of your choice). The better you are at providing detailed input (i.e. grade level, criteria, important topics, etc.), the more personalized and “correct” the output will become. Although I have never directly used anything from AI verbatim, it often provides me with a start that gets me 80% of the way, and nearly instantaneously. I can then copy and paste the results into my preferred mode of creation/editing (for me, Microsoft Word) and make any changes I feel are necessary.

Not only have I successfully used ChatGPT to create teaching materials, but each time I do so, the materials require fewer and fewer edits, as I improve my ability to ask for exactly what I want. In fact, in a study performed by Terwiesch,16 it was estimated that AI can cut exam creation time in half.

Figure 4 shows the results of one of my first attempts at creating a class quiz using ChatGPT. Personally, I found early on that the quiz questions that it created tended to be too easy. So I was able to use many of the questions as ChatGPT generated, and make edits to those I did not like. Once completed, I would put my improved exam back into ChatGPT, so it could learn from it and better understand the type of questions I prefer. Having done this several times, the exams I am provided by ChatGPT now require fewer changes, and thus less editing time on my part.

Figure 4. The author’s first attempt at creating an exam using AI.
a bonding triangle diagram

AI’s ability to adapt content to individual students’ needs is a game-changer. It can identify gaps in knowledge and recommend appropriate resources or exercises.17 This ensures that students do not fall behind or become bored due to a one-size-fits-all approach.

I have successfully used ChatGPT to provide my students with the same article at a variety of reading levels and activities at a variety of skill levels. It is not that uncommon I find a great scientific article that I would love my students to read and, although some would enjoy it, I know it would be too difficult for many of my students. Fortunately, I can paste the article into ChatGPT and ask it to rewrite it at a variety of reading levels. In just a few minutes, I can have a graduate-level paper rewritten at the 10th, 8th, and 6th grade levels. Figure 5 shows an example of an abstract18 rewritten at both the 10th and 6th grade reading level. As a result, my students can now read about the study of ocean acidification at a level that allows them to understand the chemistry behind it.

Figure 5. A scientific abstract which the author had ChatGPT rewrite at various grade levels (original on top, 10th grade on left, 6th grade on right).
a bonding triangle diagram

Utilizing ChatGPT to maximize student learning through individualization of lessons does not stop at reading levels. I have asked ChatGPT to make quizzes on particular topics that vary in skill level, math requirements, and/or grade level. For example, with just a few inputs, you can have a series of practice worksheets in stoichiometry for a range of skill levels, from students who are just starting in chemistry (whose worksheet may just ask them to balance the chemical reaction) to more advanced students (who are asked to convert from grams of one substance to grams of another). None of this is particularly challenging for an educator to create, but producing three different stoichiometry worksheets with 10 questions each, as well as an answer key, would normally require at least a couple of hours. AI can create such a worksheet and answer key in just a couple of minutes. All you are left to do is double-check the work.


The history of technology in education has been marked by a consistent push-pull between innovation and skepticism. As we stand on the cusp of the AI revolution in education, it is crucial to learn from the past and address the current challenges and concerns. While there are legitimate concerns about privacy, bias, and dehumanization, the potential benefits of AI in education are too significant to ignore.

Similar to the Commodore 64, the internet, and cellphones, AI stands to be the next leap in technology that will transform our lives and our students’ educational experiences. Revolutionizing your classroom with the use of AI could feel wrong or simply intimidating, but similar to the use of computers and the internet, it may prove unavoidable. Although it can enhance the student learning experience, the easiest way to begin using AI often begins with lowering your workload through the creation of content. This aspect of AI is hopefully enticing enough to warrant an exploration of what the technology can do for you!


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