AI is going to offer every student a personalized tutor, founder of Khan Academy says
- Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, recently gave a TED Talk on AI's potential impact on education.
- The technology could offer personalized tutors to every student at a large scale, he said.
The conversation around the adoption of AI across industries has been polarizing — and in the field of education, the technology is particularly hotly debated.
Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, an educational nonprofit that aims to provide free learning resources, is not necessarily fearful of the technology.
In a TED Talk that was released this week, Khan explained the potential benefits of AI across the field of education, likening the possibilities to a personalized tutor for every student.
"I think we're at the cusp of using AI for probably the biggest positive transformation that education has ever seen," he said. "The way we're going to do that is by giving every student on the planet an artificially intelligent, but amazing, personal tutor."
Throughout his presentation Khan gave a demo of his organization's chatbot, called Khanmigo, which can assist students in a variety of subjects, including math, computer science, and writing. The chatbot was launched in March as part of a pilot program for Khan Academy's partners. More than 500 public school districts and schools have been invited to use the chatbot to test it out and provide feedback.
The general public can join a waitlist for the chatbot, but those under 18 need to be signed up by their parents. People who are selected from the waitlist are asked to make a monthly $20 donation, per Khan Academy.
Rather than giving users answers, Khanmigo, which is powered by GPT-4, assists users in helping them figure problems out.
For example, when given an algebra problem and asked for the answer, the chatbot responded by saying, "As your friendly AI tutor, Khanmigo, I'm here to help you learn and understand the problem, not just give you the answer."
The chatbot asked the user what they thought the first step for solving the equation would be, and when the user makes a mistake involving order of operations, Khanmigo walked the user through the correct way to proceed and urged them to try again.
Khanmigo also functions as a virtual academic coach, and can offer guidance on college and career plans, Khan said.
"The school I went to, the student-to-guidance counselor ratio was about 200 or 300 to one," Khan said.
Khan said AI could also offer personalized assistance to teachers, by helping with pre-class work like lesson planning, filling out report cards, and general administrative tasks. That means they can spend more time working with students, he added.
Khan Academy did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The education world seems split on the role of generative AI in the classroom.
Some teachers, like high school math and science teacher Shannon Ahern, have praised ChatGPT's ability to help with lesson plans, worksheets, and quiz-making.
Ethan Mollick, a Wharton business school professor, even requires his students to use ChatGPT. He's highlighted how the technology has been beneficial for non-native English speakers in crafting emails and letters.
However, a number of schools and universities have banned the use of ChatGPT due to fears of potential plagiarism and misinformation.
The New York City Department of Education, Seattle Public Schools, and Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, have all blocked the chatbot from school networks.
Business leaders like Bill Gates have argued that learning how to harness AI technology will be crucial to future success, noting that since the technology is already present, it is important to learn how to use it.
"I think everyone here and beyond, we are active participants in this decision." Khan said.
"We fight like hell for the positive use cases," he added. "Perhaps the most powerful use case and perhaps the most poetic use case is if AI, artificial intelligence, can be used to enhance HI, human intelligence."
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