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Student Potential

The Pros and Cons of Using AI in the Classroom

February 6, 2024Back to Learning Centre

The use of AI in education has been a hotly discussed topic – and for good reason.

Imagine having an easily accessible computer application that can answer questions according to a specified format and in natural, professional English on the day you “forgot” to write your history essay when you were in school – what would you do? With AI, this hypothetical situation is a reality to today’s students and teachers. But is it a force for good or evil? There are many instances where AI can be used to elevate and assist in student learning so the question is: Is AI in the classroom a force for good or evil?

Here are some reasons, both for and against using AI in classrooms.


Ethical exposure to AI

AI is a powerful tool that will continue to evolve in the years to come. It is not going anywhere – and in fact, most of those in school today will likely be using some iteration of this technology in their future careers. Like any other new development, it’s best to mindfully and strategically expose students to it rather than shying away from it altogether.

Fast and efficient lesson planning

Teachers are reporting increased responsibility with larger class sizes and children with more complex needs. AI can help assist teachers or supplement their resources by creating customized lesson plans or suggesting curriculum-consistent activities for students with different abilities.

A launchpad for homework

While students should not use AI to generate writing for academic submission, it can help with gathering information or supplying the inspiration to jumpstart an assignment.

When used as a research tool, AI can be an assistant and time saver gathering information that could take hours or even days to source. AI can offer prompts, summarize a difficult-to-understand concept, or reveal insight that piques a student’s curiosity and drives them to investigate further.

Helpful for edits and revision

We’ve all experienced the challenge of putting a complicated concept on paper in a clear and understandable way. AI can assist with rephrasing or clarifying a poorly constructed sentence or paragraph. However, students will have to use AI for this purpose with discretion and avoid the temptation of having the program rewrite their entire essays altogether.


Provides a shortcut for almost all schoolwork

In the past, completing a research assignment would require a student to physically go to a library and check out books to obtain the information they needed. AI threatens to make an already simplified process – using a search engine – even easier. Students can now generate assignment answers, essays to a specific word length and finish projects with minimal effort. Those who rely on AI tools too much may not gain the same critical thinking and research skills as those who complete their schoolwork honestly and on their own.

Risks of academic misconduct

Not surprisingly, the potential for academic dishonesty with AI was realized immediately, with students testing the limits of what AI could do while educators were left scrambling to find tools to keep up.

AI answers are usually grammatically correct and sound professional. With a few well-worded prompts, a paper that may have previously taken months to research can be completed in minutes. However, AI content also often comes off as stilted and unnecessarily long. It’s usually not too difficult at all to identify a fully AI-written essay.

Accuracy not guaranteed

Many have assumed that AI’s answers are accurate and can be used as-is, but there are well-documented cases of chatbots providing incorrect or incoherent answers. For a seasoned professor, it will be easy to spot significant inconsistencies in a student’s assignment and flag it for the possible use of AI. Teachers may also risk presenting inaccurate information if they rely solely on AI to prepare their lessons.

Just like in other industries, AI is already disrupting education. While academic institutions have yet to land on a consistent way to manage the use of AI, it would be short-sighted – and ineffective – to ban it outright.

For now, it remains a bit of a grey area, and it would be ideal to tread cautiously, particularly if you’re a student. Be sure to speak to your teacher before using AI for an assignment to avoid missteps.


Written by Embark

Embark is Canada’s education savings and planning company. The organization aims to help families and students along their post-secondary journeys, giving them innovative tools and advice to take hold of their bright futures and succeed.