Experts Agree AI Will change the course of education


Snapchat’s new “My AI” feature is powered by ChatGPT technology and will allow students to ask just about any question with quick results.

Hunter McDaniel, Reporter

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is finding its way into everyday life, performing tasks that would typically be done by humans. AI uses computer systems to learn natural language, speech recognition, decision making, and visual perception to improve itself and its ability overtime. I am a student at Casper’s Natrona County High School (NCHS), and was confused when Snapchat’s new “MY AI” update appeared on my friends list. At first I tried to un-add it, and was disappointed when that wasn’t an option. That day, the AI was all the hype at school. Some students embraced it and started asking simple questions to see what it can do, while others were worried about the unknown issues it may lead to down the line. 

The concept of AI may be intimidating to society and experts are concerned about how often people may rely on this technology. There is no guarantee that the information AI gives is accurate, so when people use it for medical advice, or anything else it may be hard to decipher what is true and what is fake. This idea made me wonder about how AI would be used in school, and if the information it gave was reliable for student education. There was no doubt in my mind that some students would use AI to make homework easier and faster, so I decided to try it myself. It was after school, and I had a pile of work that had to be done, and figured the best way to find out what AI can do, is to use it. Now I didn’t use it on everything, nor did I use what the AI bot had said, word for word, but to my surprise, it gave me quick answers. When I turned in my assignments, I was nervous that I hadn’t done a proper job, but later that day, my grade went up. I don’t know if the creatures of artificial intelligence thought about the effects it could have on a stressed out student, sitting in English class, with the ability to have anything written for them at their fingertips. 

New generations have grown up with technology and will most likely continue to live with it in their everyday life, so what does this mean for the future? A history professor at the University of Wyoming (UW), Dr. Renée M. Laegreid is, “. . .concerned that the ability of AI will lead to a two-tiered academic system, one that relies on or encourages AI and another that focuses on developing student’s critical thinking capabilities.” Artificial Intelligence will have a significant impact on the way we live and the way schools will function. AI is already becoming increasingly common among people whether they are aware of it or not. What experts call ‘weak AI’ is already used in social media and websites, as an algorithm to either predict responses or recommend things that the user may be interested in. Other types, such as voice recognition AI can be found in Siri and Alexa apps that we carry in our pockets or have in our homes. AI, continuously getting more sophisticated, may have serious harm to children/teens whose brain processing isn’t yet developed. AI being an easy tool to get work done will prevent students from engaging in the classroom and learning skills like critical thinking and problem solving. 

I realized this when I was drowning in assignments that had to be done in a short amount of time. Yes, it was my fault that I had let these things build up over time but thinking about what I should’ve done wasn’t going to help my case so, I turned to my ‘trusty’ AI to help give me a push in the right direction. I started with the easier assignments, the ones with brief questions that required brief answers to and AI gave me decent answers. Within an hour I had already completed the majority of my papers and felt relieved that it wasn’t taking days on end like I expected it to. After that, the only thing I had left to do was an essay, or as my teacher called it, “a personal declaration.” The point was to find something that we feel strongly about and write our view in five paragraphs with examples and reasoning. This was something that I had pushed off right up until it was due the next day, and my procrastination was slowly starting to dig my own academic grave. At first I asked AI to give me examples of interesting topics that had many sides to the story. The one that fit the needs of the assignment and my own interest was the legal drinking age and whether or not it should stay the same or be lowered. After that, I asked it to give me an outline for the essay with all the examples that I could branch off of. When I saw the results, I was astonished. The examples it had provided were things I had never thought of before, that had perfectly matched the credentials of the assignment. This I started getting distracted trying to see all of the amazing work AI could do for me, by only asking simple questions. This device, the power I had in my hands was remarkable, but once I had my essay fully done, completed 100% by my AI, I realized that I had fallen in a trap. The essay had taken me next to no brain power at all, and I knew that I couldn’t turn it in. It was a hard decision to go back to the outline and start from the beginning, when a well done essay was just sitting there on my screen begging me to get a good grade. 

I realized how little I had to think to do something that, otherwise, would’ve taken all night. If AI had been more predominant when I first started writing essays, and I had used it to do that kind of work, I would not know how to do anything. It worries me to think about children who will eventually grow up in school, with more advanced technology than I already had access to as a student. Jessica Scherden, an English teacher at NCHS has already had some issues with students using AI for school work. “Students don’t understand that using AI has and will continue to have drastic consequences when used incorrectly,” explains Scherden. For writing assignments she uses TurnItIn which gives her the ability to detect plagiarism and citations in her students work, and they have recently added a new feature that specifically finds AI.  The feature only reports the paper if it is 98% sure of AI usage and according to Scherden, several papers were marked 100% written by an AI generator. “Although (using AI)  isn’t inherent plagiarism in the case of submitting an essay, it still is not original work,” says Scherden, however, “it might be a great place to start with ideas and concepts.” 

One afternoon, while my friends and I were at lunch, crowded in the backseat of one of their cars, I got the grade update for my personal declaration assignment. My grade hadn’t turned out horrible, but I knew if I had started working on it when it was given, I probably would’ve had a better score. I swiped my screen back to the AI I had used to help write the outline for the essay, and read over the five, near perfect paragraphs that I could’ve used to increase my score in the matter of minutes and felt frustrated. One of my friends’ sisters had joined us for lunch and I was curious to see what she felt about AI. Hailey Elliott (12) believes that with artificial intelligence becoming more popular, “It could greatly compromise the amount of learning kids will actually do, when they have a robot that can easily create logical and sensible answers for them.” She hasn’t used AI for any homework because of all the movies about AI and technology ‘going to war with humanity’ such as Terminator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger or the Matrix with Keanu Reeves. “How rapidly AI is advancing, it opens up those possibilities,” says Elliot. 

Although a war with artificial intelligence may seem far-fetched, nobody knows exactly how powerful it will become. Screens, technology, and AI are already finding themselves into the hands of younger people, who are more docile and subject to false information. The development of AI will throw humanity a curve-ball of many new tools, conveniences, and a world of educational problems and we don’t know, yet, if the benefits outweigh the risks. Professor Laegreid from UW told me that calculators were once thought of as a threat to education, and that no one would learn proper math skills, but it has proven to be a very useful tool and maybe artificial intelligence will follow the same story. “The intrusion of AI into the classroom is so new, I’m not sure what will happen next,” says professor Laegreid, “We will just have to wait and see.”