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AI’s remarkably imperfect productivity for educators

AI chat tools have their limitations, but recognizing them allows educators to work around them for efficiency and efficacy.

5 min read

EducationEducational Leadership

AI chat-generated artwork for Michael Gaskell story on AI's limitations and benefits

AI chat tool-generated artwork from Michael Gaskell.

headshot of Michael Gaskell

The use of AI chat tools has rapidly increased this year. These tools are designed to interact with us fluidly, using natural language processing, and are becoming more versatile with each passing day. Educators and school leaders can make substantial use of AI chat tools. However, they should recognize that AI chat tools have glaring imperfections. Understanding these and leveraging the tools provides remarkable productivity – if you understand and leverage around these limitations.

Constraints of chat AI tools are illustrated in two important examples:

  1. The expression of a person’s point of view through voice. 
  2. The difficulty in generating a person’s eyes.

AI chat tools have a difficult time with voice since they lack the emotional context that humans can interpret through the nuances of tone, pitch, expression, and most of all, uniqueness. For example, when someone expresses joy or anger through their voice, humans interpret those emotions in ways that AI chat tools would not have the capacity to. This leads to AI chat tools sounding more mechanical and less emotionally intelligent despite their efforts to imitate human communication. 

As a result, AI chat tools will commonly sound impersonal when attempting to express a person’s point of view. More significantly, AI chat tools cannot express a person’s point of view because they lack the complex beliefs, values and opinions that form a person’s consciousness. Educators should make this clear to people accessing AI chat tools in their schools. Expression remains unique.

Nuances matter, and AI isn’t good at them

Recently, AI geeks have tested training their voice on their writing. That might work, with the limitations of that set of expressions. This still reinforces the need to go back and check/edit your work and tp personalize to the newly unique context you are presenting.

While AI chat tools can be programmed to produce an intelligent and powerful response to a specific prompt or question, they may miss the nuances that make an answer unique to a person’s way of perceiving the world. For example, if someone has a particular position on an issue based on their experiences or background, that will not be reflected by an AI tool’s response, since it relies on general information based on machine learning algorithms and statistical analysis. I have written about authenticity and AI tools to monitor with students.

AI-generated photo of three schoolchildren raising their hands
You can tell if a photo has been generated via AI chat tool because people’s eyes are odd and have no depth or emotion.

Chat AI tools also have difficulty with the capacity to generate a person’s eyes. Human eyes are complex structures with intricate details and lighting variations that cannot accurately be created using AI algorithms. An individual’s eyes showcase emotions and feelings that manifest visually. You can see fear, happiness, sadness and anger within someone’s eyes. Human vision and its subtle movements are, like a unique person’s voice, conscious – and AI chat tools are not. (While the creation of eyes using AI is still in its early stages of development, flawless AI-generated eye graphics may someday occur.)

Know AI tools’ many limitations before using

Voice and eyes are two specific examples that allow educators to understand AI’s limitations and the need to work around them for effective and efficient use.

However, AI chat tools have some limitations beyond voice and eyes. AI chat tools cannot generate an individual’s point of view. AI chat tools are not conscious, nor do they realize a sense of sentient existence. 

Nevertheless, harnessing the productivity of AI chat tools offers time-saving and quality advantages.

Following is a brief and purposeful list of how educators can make use of AI chat tools, with disclaimers of limitations:

Task Advantages Limitations
Rewrite email Helps rephrase message in ways that are more cohesive Lacks a person’s voice
Reorganize content with bullet points Allows for easier reading of main points May remove content of voice
Write a song to the tune of… Creating a song that teaches a specific topic can help students learn The content should be revised with teacher judgment
Write a riddle to help remember the planets Helps recall Sometimes accuracy is questionable (example, what is Mercury?0
Write a scene featuring characters about (topic) Using famous characters to convey a concept for students to learn Checking accuracy and content relevance
Write a letter from the perspective of (character) Using known characters can increase student interest (ex. Mickey Mouse) Checking accuracy and content relevance
Create a table with key points and discussion questions Helps to organize content in a readable fashion Checking accuracy and content relevance
Recommend books for a student at grade level Provides concise and instant feedback for teachers to access Student interest level varies, check for relevance
Add emojis to (fill in the blank) Incorporating emojis into  specific learning content can add interest for learners Relevance and appropriateness of the emojis
Summarize an article Increases efficiency of understanding, simplifies content Is the teacher or learner missing important context that was removed?
Write a Mad Lib to teach a lesson Fosters a fun, engaging exercise for learners Relevance and appropriateness of the Mad Lib
Convert text into a slideshow with (# slides) Transforming text into a slideshow format offers a quick method to translate to slides for teaching and learning Revise for preferences of the teacher to emphasize (important content highlighted more than AI chat knows)


Michael Gaskell, Ed.D., is the author of a new book, “Radical Principals,” and a veteran principal in New Jersey working at Central Elementary School in East Brunswick.

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 



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