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Enhancing Classroom Environments with AI Integration

UDL Student Engagement Series Part 2

This week’s UDL focus is on the Classroom Environment.  If you missed last week’s Universal Design for Learning introduction check it out here. As teachers, we all know that a student needs to feel safe and secure before they can learn and there are also other little things that can enhance learning.  The UDL framework refers to this as minimizing threats and distractions. I would put a positive spin on this and ask how do we invite students into learning and make what we are teach more engaging than the distractions.  This post will dive into some practical strategies for integrating AI in the classroom and enhancing classroom dynamics. 

Minimizing Threats and Distractions

This part of the UDL guidelines focuses on creating a learning environment where every student feels safe, focused, and ready to learn. This might involve reducing distractions and promoting a positive classroom culture.  By minimizing these barriers, educators can help every student have the opportunity to be engaged with the content. 

Digital Do’s

How do we provide a safe environment around learning about and using artificial intelligence? Let’s look at some ways we can do this in our classroom.

Establishing Norms and Routines

If students understand and have clear expectations around the use of AI it will not only reduce anxiety and distractions for students but also make it easier to have a conversation if students use it incorrectly. In Kate’s classroom, she discusses Matt Miller’s cheating graphic with students to determine where they all stand on AI.  I’ve also done this with several educators and when everyone is on the same page it makes it easier to adjust to this new technology. 

Creating a Culture Where Mistakes Are Okay

We all make mistakes and know how hard it is to say “I messed up.”  Teachers and students are learning AI as we go, and not only that but we are flying the plane as we build it, of course, we are going to mess up.  Own this in your classroom and tell your students it is okay. Teach them how to respond to making mistakes around AI.  Acknowledge that a mistake has been made and take steps to correct it together and learn from it.  It will be impossible to claim that you are an expert on AI in education, no one is, some have more experience than others, but right now there are not any experts. We have to be willing to learn with our students.

Model the Way You Use It

Model transparency with students. When you use AI to create content, share with students what you did. Tell them about how you checked it for accuracy and bias, how did you make it your own?  Share prompts with students.  Modeling your use will show them your expectations and teach them how to use it for themselves.  It also creates an environment where students feel comfortable using it for themselves and trying this new thing. 

Research Together

As educators, we are guilty of doing some of the background work for our students so that the tools and curriculum are more available to students.  This is essential to get it all in and decipher what is it that students need to know.  However, at this point, it becomes a valuable lesson to talk to and show students the terms of service, and privacy policies.  Teach them what to look for.  Tell them about age restrictions, and have discussions on why these terms and policies are in place.  Give students access to tools where they are following these terms and policies, Encourage them to check these policies for all the technology tools (not just AI) that they use. 

Encourage Conversatons

Sometimes in the world of education, we take for granted that we are up to date on certain knowledge and are learning every day. Not everyone knows about AI. As this technology is emerging our world needs to be educated about it.  Encourage your students to talk and teach their parents, family members, and others about AI. Tell them to share about what it can do and how they are using it as a tool in the classroom. The students become the teacher.

Digital Don’ts

I like to focus on the digital do’s instead of the digital don’ts, but there are a couple of don’ts that are important to mention.

AI Detectors

are a relationship killer and do not create an environment of trust in your classroom.  Besides that, they are unreliable and biased against non-native English-speaking students.  Think about the tone that is set when you say “I know you’re cheating because I used a detector” compared to having a conversation around the policy and culture you’ve put into place.

Handwritten Assignments

This is more of a digital maybe.  If your response is “We are going to all handwritten assignments,” this is problematic.  Consider your students, is this a choice that is important for them to have? Does this choice support or encourage my students to become expert learners? Instead of resulting in all handwritten assignments find places where handwritten assignments naturally fit into what you’re doing.  Use tools like Brisk to see the revision history. Use student reflections about their AI use and get to know your students as writers. 

Culture

Each of these strategies (both do’s and don’ts) is a way to build a culture around the use of artificial intelligence.  A reminder that even though I am an AI champion I am not telling you to use it ALL the time, but instead create a purposeful culture around using it as a tool, and providing the right time and situation for your students to use it. What does this look like for you in your classroom?  How are you creating a positive environment around AI?  Be a part of the conversation on our Facebook page. 

-Stay Curious, Stay Innovative!

apple with Nicole

AI Transparency: Chat GPT was used to help develop this post.  Chat GPT 5%, Human 95%.  I use it to maximize the readability. Here is the prompt that I used:Prompt: “Read this blog post, DO NOT change the content.  Give me feedback on SEO* (Copy and Paste blog post)” *SEO is Search Engine Optimization.

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