It’s time to head back to school, and this year a high-tech assistant may join your child as teachers and students utilize artificial intelligence in the classroom.

Uptown science teacher Bonnie Nieves is getting her classroom ready for a new school year at Nipmuc Regional High School. She’s preparing for artificial intelligence, or AI, which can process large amounts of data fast.

“I don’t wanna say it’s magic because as a scientist, we know there is no such thing, but it’s incredible how quickly students can get useful feedback when an AI has been trained to do things that the teacher’s looking for,” Nieves said.

While some may be wary of the new technology, she’s ready to embrace it.

“Sometimes it’s better to let a machine do things and then other times it’s better to do things yourself,” she said.

 She said AI shouldn’t be used for easy answers but as a tool to help students.

“It’s an idea generator,” Nieves said. “’What are 10 topics relevant to biotechnology today?’ And it will give you some ideas. It’s like having a personal tutor.”

Experts say artificial intelligence apps like ChatGPT can also help teachers. 

“Using ChatGBT is like an intern that you can give work to. You can build lesson plans, you can build study guides,” said Dean College Professor Stan Skrabut. “All kinds of different resources for the classroom.”

AI can also boil down tough subjects for different grade levels.

“When you have very complex concepts, you can ask it to change the grade level to help create better explainers for the students,” Skrabut said.

This teacher thinks AI in the classroom is here to stay. 

“It’s our duty as professionals to help kids use it effectively,” Nieves said.

One of the biggest concerns about AI is the possibility of students cheating. Educators are being trained to spot work that’s clearly been generated by a computer.

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