AI in the classroom? Don’t worry, there’s an app—er, I mean—book for that.
“As educators, we have a responsibility to prepare students for the future they will inhabit, yet many of us feel ill-equipped to navigate this brave new world of AI in the classroom.”
Relatable, much? In this one sentence, The AI Classroom: The Ultimate Guide to Artificial Intelligence in Education aptly describes the dilemma educators face in 2023. Brave new world, indeed. Does anyone have a map?
Well, right now, this book might be as close as we can get. Just released last month, this book is one of the firsts to delve into the topic of AI in education.
And it’s written from the perspective of tech-savvy teachers. Three of them, exactly.
This book commands impressive credentials.
For starters, we have Brad Weinstein, Founder and CEO of TeacherGoals. He’s a former teacher, principal, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Indiana schools. And he’s the author of the Amazon favorite, Hacking School Discipline: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy and Responsibility Using Restorative Justice. Then, there’s Amanda Fox, Chief Content Officer of Teacher Goals, which means she’s the current whiz behind @TeacherGoals. She’s also the author of The Canva Classroom, and was once dubbed an ISTE Emerging Leader and PBS Digital Innovator. And if that’s not enough brains behind the book, there’s also Dan Fitzpatrick. He’s behind theaieducator.io‘s weekly newsletter. He’s also the architect of the ChatGPT Survival Kit for Teachers, and the curator of the best AI tech tool review page we’ve ever seen.
The AI Classroom tackles its subject from different angles. Chapter topics range from bigger-picture ideas, like the history of AI and its place in education to predictions. But it also gets specific, including precise tools for teachers to consider. This includes insights into the importance of integrating AI and pedagogy.
And sometimes, it gets straight-up existential. Like, what it means to stay human-centered as we adopt these tools. But most importantly, it includes punchy, chapter titles that had this English teacher nodding in approval and laughing out loud. (We see you, “Ped-AI-gogy,” “Educators Assemble,” and “World of Promptcraft.”)
If this hasn’t already made you want to grab your own copy, keep reading.
AI-Positive Educator Mindsets
1. Step up, it’s happening fast.
So, we know this is happening fast. Which is why it is important for educators to adopt an AI-positive mindset now. Especially when we consider the rapid adoption and evolution of AI technologies in the workplace, home, and online social settings. You see, educators who understand these technologies will be the much needed leaders at the forefront. This is not the time for fear; it’s the time to collaborate and learn.
2. Stay human-centered.
One of my top-three favorite moments in the book is the clarion call for educators to stay human-centered. This means “to create authentic assessments and opportunities where AI tools can be a resource.” So, while AI-enabled efficiency and productivity are incredible, we need these tools to be centered around our humanity. That means human creativity, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking.
3. AI-literacy is a future skill.
AI-positive educators understand we simply can’t “assume the skills that matter most today will be in demand in the future.” Students and teachers alike need to start becoming AI-literate. This means embracing an agile mindset, staying up to date on emerging trends, and making space for a variety of AI substitutions, augmentations, modifications, and redefinitions of the ways we work and learn.
Practical Frameworks for Exercising Due Caution
4. Remain calm, but thoughtful.
Teachers and administrators exploring AI ed tech solutions shouldn’t be crippled by caution or completely unbridled in their zeal. Instead, we need to be somewhere in the middle. This starts by sticking with practical, thoughtful frameworks when exercising due diligence when adopting new technologies.
5. We need AI-literate leadership.
Education departments of government, school districts, and individual school administrations should develop leadership and guidance documents to support their staff, teachers, students, and families. The right approach will instill confidence, clarify expectations, address limitations, and connect with existing strategies and policies to optimize the impact of AI in education.
6. Avoid over-adoption.
While all this is happening, teachers should be aware of and avoid common pitfalls of AI adoption. This includes:
- over-reliance on certain tools
- using AI without understanding its limitations
- and focusing too much on the tech and not enough on personal interactions or pedagogy
7. Outsource tasks, not thoughts.
Fox, Fitzpatrick, and Weinstein largely encourage readers to ‘outsource their doing, not their thinking.’ Furtermore, we need to carefully follow best practices for mitigating AI “hallucinations” as well as replication of human bias and discrimination.
Essential Questions for Effective, Ethical AI Integration
8. Practical ethics (in checklist form)
My absolute favorite moment in the book? When we get to the ethics-oriented checklists. I mean, these are the most practical, student-centered, ethically-informed AI checklist we’ve come across yet.
- 8 questions every AI educator should ask to ensure that they are leveraging AI in a way that is ethical and effective.
- 10 questions to consider when assessing the ethics of using AI to produce content or with students.
To jump on the nerdy wordplay bandwagon: it’s one master list to model, one list to guide us, one list to lead us all and with great insight enlighten. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but we’re printing this thing and putting it everywhere we work!
You can find Amanda Fox’s ‘lists to rule them all’ in Chapter Four of The AI Classroom. Here, you’ll also get a QR code to join the book’s membership program, get ongoing updates, and access pertinent resources and graphics.
Best Practices and Tools to Use in the AI-Enhanced Classroom
9. Where can AI can help teachers the most?
The AI Classroom suggests at various points that the main benefits we’re looking to capitalize on when talking about AI in education are:
- the streamlining of teacher workloads
- enhanced allocation of resources
- improved grading and feedback loops
- increased inclusivity and accessibility
- availability of virtual learning environments
- adaptive, real-time, self-paced personalized learning
- and the democratization of lifelong learning
10. Navigating the tools
In a world with a lot of app noise, it’s important for each educator to know how to choose and use the right tools, familiarize themself with the tech (including how each app works, its limitations, and its strengths), and take other steps “to ensure that they are using AI in a pedagogically sound way.”
Note: We’re especially big fans of the book’s model for these steps, which include: identifying learning goals, planning lessons to then incorporate AI tools in meaningful ways, providing guidance and feedback to students as they use AI resources, and ultimately sharing and learning from these experiences in professional community with colleagues.
11. AI Teacher Tool Roundup
The AI Classroom features a generous round-up of 30+ AI tools and tool types that educators can use right now. Each AI tool review includes a summary of what each tool does, highlights of exciting app features, and tips for how each app can best be used in the classroom. For The AI Classroom’s complete list of AI-ed-tech leaders, you’ll have to check out the full “AI Tool Repository” in Part Three. That said, given the daily flooding and evolution of the AI-in-education landscape, Prof Jim is honored to have been recognized as a “pioneering” solution with staying power, in the good company of other best-in-class tools including DreamBox, ALEKS, Canva for Education, Midjourney, Adobe Firefly, Dall-E, Murf, Otter.ai, and ChatGPT.
Resources for Growing Educator Promptcraft
12. PREP & EDIT
Like a good teacher, Dan Fitzpatrick offers two easy-to-remember acronyms and easy-to-implement frameworks for prompting and editing AI tool responses:
- First, PREP the machine when writing requests: PROMPT it; give the AI a ROLE or voice; share EXPLICIT instructions; and set PARAMETERS for the answer.
- Then, EDIT responses: EVALUATE output for language, facts, and structure; DETERMINE accuracy and corroborate the source; IDENTIFY biases and misinformation; and TRANSFORM content to reflect adjustments.
Finally, re-PREP and re-EDIT until fully satisfied.
13. The Art of the Prompt
The AI Classroom team also shares a generous 40+ prompts and prompt-types for teachers. You’ll have to read Chapter 7 for the full list, but some of our personal favorites include:
- prompts to generate lesson tasks
- discussion prompts
- how-to guides
- reusable templates
- differentiated tasks
- anticipated misconceptions
- “what a good one looks like”
- “what a bad one looks like”
- thought-partnership for teachers in facing difficult conversations or dilemmas
This is not a textbook, it’s a guidebook.
While this book sometimes had me laughing out loud, it also pushed me to ponder major existential questions. But what I really loved was the straightforward, practical help. Frankly, this book has the power to transform your fears and inertia into inspiration and confidence. It’s handy, whether you choose to immerse yourself in every page or cherry-pick the most intriguing sections. At the very least, it will likely alleviate the overwhelming feeling that often accompanies this topic. Brave new world, indeed!