When Using AI Makes Sense

When Using AI Makes Sense

So it all started last week when I complained on social media about the way my first-year college students used AI to write their papers. Most friends, especially those concerned about education, literacy and standards lamented along with me. I was challenged by some, not surprisingly, concerned and committed homeschool parents who wanted to ensure their children did not fall prey to the clutches of AI dependency, and more importantly the to contribute to the downfall of literacy, to do more than just vent about the issue.

For a bit of perspective, many college students, and from my conversations with other teachers, general education students as well, are adept at using AI to compose essays, research papers, and, dare I say it, even creative writing pieces. Some graduate students even utilize AI.

Universities are struggling to catch up with this new technology, and I predict it is just a matter of time before the issue is addressed head-on, much like the technology of Turnitin has deterred college students copying and pasting web articles, books and reports. While we await the implementation of AI detection technology and even after instructors are using it, there are some ways AI can be used to enhance, rather than detract from the writing abilities of students. Here are some ways AI can be a help not a hindrance for students. I will direct my suggestions to homeschool students, as I am.

1- AI can be used to help students brainstorm. Brainstorming is hard for some
students especially when students are overwhelmed or underwhelmed with a
topic. Brainstorming helps students who do not know what to write, and students
who might “think” they do not know what to write. Utilizing an outline feature can
jumpstart the writing process for reluctant writers, as well as perfectionist writers
who find it hard to begin. I will explain more about how to ethically do this in a future post. 

2- AI can be used to quickly familiarize students with topics they know very little about but need to learn about easily. For instance, students might quickly find out about computer programming, and then rewrite the material in their own words. This would require you, the parent-teacher, to have the student turn in the original as well as their original revision. Some AI apps/ software, unfortunately, provide a false statement of the facts so you will have to have some background knowledge of your topic to utilize it effectively. 

3- AI can be used to teach students to use scholarly sources in their essays and research papers. Most AI sources are phantom, or nonexistent. Students can learn to utilize Google Scholar and other reputable websites to get genuine sources. 

4- AI can be used to help students deliver readability in their writing by taking AI drafts and rewriting them to be understandable by removing unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. AI tends to be overly populated with adjectives adverbs and repetitive sentences. Once students are taught the principles of readability they can revise AI essays.

5- AI can help build vocabulary by having student replace selected words in drafts with vocabulary chosen by you, the parent-teacher. Creating papers and stories using subject words helps to develop vocabulary.

6- AI grammar programs can check for accuracy and identify the kinds of mistakes a student makes. Some AI grammar programs allow students to identify why they made mistakes in grammar. I prefer some programs over others because they systematically address grammar and usage weaknesses. Some of you may already be using Grammarly. 

7- AI can help students improve their first drafts and compose final drafts. Once students write their own drafts, they can experiment with various AI writing apps. 

Rather than running from the AI technology, I am embracing it and you can too, I have integrated some of these tools in my class in my College Prep Writing class because all students should know the ethical way to use AI before college. Mastering AI is easier than you think. 

Cheryl Carter is a writing coach, professor and concerned parent who wants everyone to tap into the genius of their writing abilities. Her college prep and creative writing classes help students master the writing process. Visit her classes on Cheryl Carter Creative Classroom - Profile and Classes | Outschool  https://outschool.com/teachers/CherylCarter

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