K-12 Educator’s Guide to Using Artificial Intelligence

To most of us, artificial intelligence (AI) is a nebulous concept – and even a little concerning to think about in the context of educating our children. But AI is already an integral part of our lives every day, as we use facial ID to unlock our phones and rely on Netflix to recommend shows to watch. And, unlike robots in a manufacturing environment, AI in education isn’t about replacing teachers in the classroom. Its intent is to free teachers from spending time on routine administrative tasks and enhance their capacity to personalize instruction to improve student learning.

Teacher utilizing artificial intelligence to better help students

What is the Role of Artificial Intelligence in Education?

Generally, artificial intelligence is the use of computers to simulate human brain processes, such as decision making and perception, to complete a routine or repetitive task more efficiently. While that makes AI sound dry and uninspiring, when applied in education AI is used to achieve the lofty goals of enhancing the way teachers teach and transforming the way students learn.

Much of a teacher’s day is spent carrying out responsibilities in addition to instruction. Reviewing homework, creating lesson plans, grading tests, evaluating student progress, and identifying where students need additional instruction are just some of a teacher’s essential functions.

All of these functions, and others, can be completed or aided by AI technology — freeing teachers to spend more time focusing on their most significant role: getting to know each student and meeting their learning needs.

The Benefits of Using AI in Education

Robotics, virtual assistants, language processing, and speech recognition software are all prevalent in the wider world to make our lives simpler. But what advantages can be gained by using these and other AI tools in the classroom?

At the foundational level, AI enhances learning, helps teachers complete tasks and enables greater personalized learning. In achieving these overarching goals, AI offers these specific benefits:

Automation of administrative tasks.

As mentioned above, AI aids the education process by reducing the time teachers spend on routine tasks like grading homework and increasing the time they have to focus on things that AI can’t do, such as building students’ social emotional skills and fostering meaningful parental engagement.

Grading and feedback on class-wide mastery

In addition to automating scoring, such as answers on a multiple-choice quiz, AI software can identify and analyze patterns in correct and incorrect answers, so teaches are aware of areas that need further emphasis with individual students and the class as a whole.

AI can also grade less objective student work such as essays, although this is still somewhat controversial in the education sector.

Differentiated and individualized learning

With 20 or 30 students in a class, it is a Herculean task for one teacher to compile all the data relevant to every student’s academic performance, analyze that data, and identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses on a granular level. AI can do all that automatically.

Most helpfully, AI can then create a customized course of instruction to address each student’s specific skills and knowledge gaps – one that adapts to the student’s level of knowledge and speed of learning.


AI tools can create a more inclusive classroom and school environment by connecting homebound students to the classroom; making instruction accessible for students with visual or hearing impairments and other disabilities; and bridging communication gaps for English language learners.

Feedback to students

Students working with individualized AI tools receive feedback on progress in real time, leading to greater understanding and retention. And for those students who hesitate to ask questions or fear providing an incorrect answer, AI tools provide the freedom to seek information, make mistakes and persevere through those mistakes.

 Content creation

Whether it’s a complete online learning course or a digital study guide, AI can create resources for teachers to use with the entire class or individual students. And because the resources are created by a machine learning tool, they are automatically and continually updated so the content is always current.

What Are Some Examples of AI Tools for Teaching and Learning?

  • Information visualizations are internet-based simulations and graphic representations that can help students more fully understand concepts. They are especially helpful to those who learn in different ways. For example, instead of just reading facts about volcanos, students can view a 3D model that shows what happens both outside and inside a volcano during eruption.
  • AI-powered chatbots can answer students’ questions 24/7, giving students a level of one-on-one assistance on basic questions whenever they need, without relying on a teacher’s availability.
  • Adaptive learning programs and AI tutors guide the student through a lesson, give immediate feedback on right and wrong answers, and make changes based on those answers to focus on areas the student still needs to master. These programs have the added benefit of being available to the student after school hours.
  • Speech recognition software can help English learners with pronunciation of letters and words. Programs also use avatars to involve students in conversations and real-life situations, allowing for a more immersive learning experience.
  • Scheduling apps and software enable students and teachers to organize their tasks and overall workload on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis.
  • Science simulations make learning possible when real-life science experiments aren’t feasible. With virtual reality, students can still experience the moment of discovery even when dangerous materials are involved or expensive, specialized equipment is needed.
  • Robots and voice assistants are a way to teach social skills to children with autism, as they learn appropriate ways to communicate with others. For students with visual impairments, software can read text aloud. Students with an auditory processing disorder can use technology to transcribe oral lessons to written form they can review later at their own speed.
  • Assessment apps and software track individual student progress and overall class progress toward achieving set learning goals, so teachers can alter lesson plans along the way to address shortcomings in learning.
  • Grammar apps and software go beyond checking spelling and punctuation to provide vocabulary enhancements, analyze sentence structure and style consistency, and suggest ways students can improve their written work.
  • Substitute teachers’ effectiveness can be drastically improved when they can access software the teacher has used to track exactly where the class is with regard to specific lessons, as well as which students may need extra help.

There are two additional ways AI is being used in education to increase student engagement and enhance learning. Check out our previous blogs on gamification – integrating elements of game design into learning, and Esports – an organized video gaming competition program that is tied to the curriculum.

Learn More About Artificial Intelligence in Education

Artificial intelligence has many uses across all grade levels for students of varying learning needs, and to assist teachers in providing a personalized learning experience to each student. To find out more about how you can incorporate AI tools into your school or classroom, plan to attend the next National Future of Education Technology® Conference