Teachers Test Artificial Intelligence Tutoring Bots in the Classroom


A new computerised teaching tool from Khan Academy is being cautiously tested out in Newark public schools. The first grade was “could use improvement.”

On the blackboard in her third-grade class one recent morning, Cheryl Drakeford, a teacher at First Avenue Elementary School in Newark, projected a difficult arithmetic question: “What percentage of the letters in the word MATHEMATICIAN are consonants?”

Ms. Drakeford was aware that some kids would not be familiar with the term “consonant”. She therefore suggested that they seek assistance from Khanmigo, a brand-new AI-powered tutoring bot.

About 15 students diligently put the identical question — “What are consonants?” — into their math software during her brief break. The third-graders were then asked to share the tutoring bot’s response.

One student read aloud, “Consonants are the letters in the alphabet that are not vowels.” There are five vowels: A, E, I, O, and U. Other letters are all consonants.

This year, many schools scrambled to limit or block the usage of A.I.-enhanced chatbots like ChatGPT due to tech industry hype and doomsday predictions. An alternative strategy is being used by Newark Public Schools. Khanmigo, an automated teaching tool created by the education charity Khan Academy, whose online classes are used by hundreds of districts, is being pilot tested by one of the first school systems in the United States.

For public schools across the nation who are attempting to separate the actual use of new A.I.-assisted tutoring bots from their marketing claims, Newark has effectively offered to act as a guinea pig.

Advocates claim that by automatically personalising responses to pupils and enabling them to progress through classes at their own pace, chatbots in the classroom might democratise the idea of tutoring.

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