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Students speak: How AI can be used as copilot in education

High school students, part of Governor’s STEM Scholars program, explain how artificial intelligence should be incorporated into curriculum

By Bobby Bress and Aaron Simpson, Governor’s STEM Scholars(New Jersey)

Eighty percent of Fortune 500 companies use ChatGPT. Why can’t students? Cruising onto the scene less than two years ago, ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, completely changed the narrative around artificial intelligence. Originally released to the public as a research preview, ChatGPT is now a fully developed product, being incorporated into the workflows of some of the world’s largest companies. Since ChatGPT’s inception, several companies have jockeyed for dominance in the space with the likes of Google’s Gemini and Meta’s Llama 2. As these models become more integral to workdays, ChatGPT and other AI tools ought to be thoughtfully incorporated into curriculums and allowed in schools.

By incorporating AI technologies into high school curriculums, students can be better prepared to enter a workforce that is adopting AI. Rather than issuing comprehensive bans on the technology, teachers can guide students on how to use it properly. A teacher’s instruction can inform students on ethical use standards, and how best to use it to their advantage to augment, and advance study habits. As AI becomes more prevalent in the workforce, students who aren’t trained in it will lose out on many opportunities. AI technologies are improving and expanding, becoming vastly more complex. To keep up, students need to be taught about them early on in their education. In the future, these technologies will only become more prevalent.

Generative AI is based on human data sets. If you conceptualize the entire volume of the internet in its current state, you’ll find a lot of positivity, but also a lot of negativity. Bigotry abounds, and it’s important to understand that AI is no better than the data it is trained on. Every single bias and inaccuracy baked into its training data will be regurgitated tenfold. It’s essential that students receive training in AI ethics so they can properly collect diverse data sets, removing the current inequities with the technology. Students should be able to discriminate between the right and wrong use cases for AI. In this way, students can automate tedious tasks, while preserving critical thinking and other imperative skills.

Educational use of AI has benefits far beyond preparing students for the workforce. It can be used to improve equity in education. Higher-income students have increased access to specialized tutors, education specialists and learning platforms. In addition, wealthy parents have the ability to send their children to expensive private schools, designed to accelerate entry to Ivy League universities. ChatGPT and related technologies have the potential to democratize the education system. Low-income students can use AI technology as personal tutors, explaining troubling concepts and leveling the educational playing field.

It’s not uncommon to come across a headline describing how AI will be the end of education as we know it. However, like other educational technologies that were predicted to end education in their day, these technologies have done nothing but been a boon to students. During the 1970s, calculators were slowly becoming more common in the house and were increasingly being used on homework. Eventually educational interest groups like the National Advisory Committee on Mathematical Education and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics began to endorse calculator use in classrooms after it was found they increased test scores. Today, calculators are widely accepted in secondary and postsecondary education. Nearly every Advanced Placement class offered by the College Board allows calculator use on the exams. Calculator use in classrooms serves as a model for the productive use of once-feared technologies. AI ought to be accessible to students, while being gently regulated by administrators.

As high school students ourselves, we are uniquely positioned to comment on the various ways AI can be put to productive use in a secondary education environment. Both of our school districts have implemented strict no-AI policies. Students, suffering from a lack of guidance, have run rampant with cheating, despite bans. With stronger guidance and instruction from our teachers and administrators, we look forward to a future that utilizes AI effectively for education and prepares us for careers in industries that will require AI’s use. March is New Jersey STEM Month, a time to embrace new technologies and methods, so what better time to reconsider the place of artificial intelligence in the classroom?

Bobby Bress is a junior at New Providence High School with a deep passion for applications related to the study of advanced computational methods for scientific discovery and social well-being. He explores unique applications of artificial intelligence through research work with the Governor’s STEM Scholars and hopes to pursue collegiate studies related to computer science to one day drive computational breakthroughs that will drive social benefit.

Aaron Simpson is a senior at Atlantic City High School. He is a futurist, who looks ahead with optimism. He hopes to study environmental science, protecting Earth’s beauty and preserving it for generations to come. He hopes to travel the world learning about Earth’s different ecosystems, and discovering what humans can learn from nature. Both are 2024 Governor’s STEM Scholars, a program of the Research & Development Council of New Jersey.


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