AI is rapidly becoming popular among students and teachers.

  • The percentage of K-12 students and teachers who say they are using and approve of AI has risen sharply over the past year, according to a new survey conducted by the Walton Family Foundation's Impact Research.
  • About half of US teachers and K-12 students say they use ChatGPT weekly.
  • Less than 20% of students say they never use generative AI.

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Heung Chang | The Denver Post | Getty Images

According to many polls, the American public as a whole remains on the fence with artificial intelligence, but in education, adoption rates among teachers and students are growing rapidly.

In a little more than a year, the percentage of teachers who say they are familiar with ChatGPT — the breakthrough AI chatbot from Microsoft-backed OpenAI, which is next headed to the Apple iPhone goes – increased from 55% to 79%, while among K-12 students, it increased from 37% to 75%, AI of Learning Engineering Virtual Institute through Impact Research for the Walton Family Foundation in May According to a new survey conducted in conjunction with the Lab.

When it comes to actual usage, there was a similar increase, with 46% of teachers and 48% of students saying they use ChatGPT at least weekly, a 27% increase in student usage over last year. has happened

Perhaps most notably, student reviews are largely positive. 70 percent of K-12 students had a favorable view of AI chatbots. Among undergraduates, this rises to 75%. And among parents, 68% expressed favorable views about AI chatbots.

“This is much more positive data than I expected,” said author Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and an AI expert who has analyzed the polling data.

The polling data is consistent with the experience of Khan Academy and its founder Sal Khan, a school district in Newark, New Jersey, among others, testing the use of custom chat GPT, KhanMego, for education. Working for Khan recently told CNBC that his AI tool will expand from 65,000 students to 1 million students next year. It also recently announced that Microsoft is paying to offer AI for free to teachers across the US. (School districts pay per student usage, which has recently been in the $35 per user range, though Khan says that as the technology scales, it will be possible to lower that price to the $10-$20 range. ).

“Unlike most things in technology and education in the past where it's a 'nice to have,' I think it's a 'must-have' for many teachers,” Khan Academy founder and CEO Khan recently said. Is.” told CNBC's “Squawk Box.”

While Khan Academy is best known for its educational videos, its interactive exercise platform was one that OpenAI executives, Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, initially zeroed in on when they were looking to pilot ChatGPT. Were looking for a partner with whom socially positive use cases were presented.

Molek said the adoption rate in education is higher than what is currently happening in the world of work, and that it is students, who are highly motivated to seek help, who are “taking teachers along for the ride.” have been,” said Mulk.

In fact, teachers were the only demographic surveyed where favorability declined year over year, although the majority (59%) still have a positive view of AI chatbots.

Older teachers and parents (those over the age of 45) were less likely to be confident in their ability to use AI effectively, but Khan said Microsoft and his non-profit organization in the U.S. One of the reasons I want every educator to have access to AI is because of the time it's saving teachers.

Khan recently told CNBC that often, in the past, teachers have been told, “If you learned this one extra thing…” and that becomes a burden for an already overworked educator. . “Teachers are already spread thin. Especially with these teacher tools, it's one more thing to learn,” he said. But Khan's research with school districts so far has saved teachers 5-10 hours a week. “This is the first time in the technology journey that we can say to teachers, 'These are going to be fewer things for you. Yes, there's a little difference in learning, but it's going to save you time.'”

Only 25% of teachers surveyed said they've received any training on AI chatbots, and nearly a third (32%) say a lack of training and professional development is the reason they don't use AI. There are big reasons. Teachers said they used AI to generate ideas for classes (37%); for preparing lesson plans and teaching materials (32%); for student worksheets or examples (32%); and to create quizzes or tests (31%).

Mullick described himself as bullish on AI in education in the long term, but in the short term, he said the results are relatively high compared to past polling on the introduction of the new technology. “I was surprised to see that the numbers looked as good as they did. I was surprised at how positive the sentiment was from each group.” They said. “It's not universally liked, but we're not seeing the strong negativity that we normally see,” he said.

It's early. Khan noted in his recent CNBC interview that the basic guideline should be to never put the technology before the use case. He said there have been cases in the last 15 years where school districts have been able to “dramatically accelerate results because of technology, but many other cases where they bought iPads and laptops and they gathered dust.” are doing.”

New data indicates significant parity in the use of AI in education. Minority groups are adopting AI for education at higher rates, including teachers and parents using AI to help children. Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to use AI for K-12 students and undergraduate school. Among parents, 47% of those polled want AI chatbots to be used more in schools, compared to 36% who want it used less. Parental support for using AI in education is highest among black (57%) and Hispanic parents (55%).

Mullick said it's too early to try to fully aggregate the economic and equity data — students at private schools were the most likely to use AI both personally and at school — but added that the data It's worth diving deeper to ask whether AI can fill the gaps in the school system. “Now people have access to an AI tutor and no longer have to pay for a tutor,” he said.

Khan said AI for the classroom is a measure of personalization that matches his organization's founding story — when he personally tutored his cousin Nadia. He recently told CNBC that AI could “bring us very close to that ideal of what a great tutor would do, being able to emulate what we've been doing for years”. “In my mind, it passes the Turing test,” Khan said, referring to famed British mathematician and AI pioneer Alan Turing's goal of computer intelligence equaling human intelligence and comparing humans to one another. Unable to identify. “It's different from when I went to text Nadia in 2004.”

AI and fraud

The results raise many questions for teachers and parents.

The value of in-class lectures is uncertain when a student can get all the information from an AI, but the accuracy of an AI compared to a teacher, while generally good, remains an open question, Molk said. “We need to be careful about jumping all the way,” he said.

About 20% of teachers surveyed said ChatGPT had a negative impact, up from 7% last year.

There is no way to discuss AI in education without including its use in cheating, even though online cheating is nothing new. “Students are highly incentivized to cheat,” Mullick said, adding that there is too much work to be done and not enough time to complete it. Historically, homework has been proven to boost students' grades, but since the rise of online cheating, this link has weakened and AI may further degrade the value of homework.

K-12 students polled said they were most likely to have used AI chatbots to write essays and other assignments (56%), followed by tests and quizzes (52%). should be studied.

Khan recently told CNBC that the way his general AI tutoring system works is to keep the student within its walls, so to speak, for example, while writing an essay, and AI is able to identify whether progress can be attributed to work. Flag any signs of cheating to the student, and to the teacher.

The new monitoring systems will present their own set of problems — and new ways for students to figure out how to get around the checks, Mulk said.

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