New AI Tutor Chatbot Considered for Districtwide Use

New AI Tutor Chatbot Considered for Districtwide Use

Newark Public Schools wants to see a districtwide expansion of an artificial intelligence tutoring tool after it was piloted at First Avenue School last year, according to Chalkbeat Newark.

The district was among the first in the country to test the chatbot called Khanmigo, an AI program developed by online learning company Khan Academy that acts as a tutor for students and an assistant for teachers. In an email to Chalkbeat Newark from Superintendent Roger León, district officials confirmed they are looking to expand the use of the program districtwide.

Khanmigo is still in its pilot phase but is designed to guide students as they progress through lessons and ask questions like a human tutor would. It can also assist teachers with tasks such as planning lessons, tailoring instruction, creating texts and images, and providing recommendations on what students could work on next.

There has been little research on whether such tools are effective in helping students regain lost ground. Experts also say districts should be clear about their goals in using AI tools like Khanmigo and learn from teachers and students as they use new platforms.

Khanmigo, powered by ChatGPT technology, includes features meant to help students work through math and science problems, analyze text, chat with historical figures, navigate college admissions, and revise essays, among other features. It is also designed to help teachers create instructions for assignments and review student performance.

Newark is one of 53 school districts across the country to pilot the tool, which is accessed through Khan Academy’s website rather than a separate app.

But one thing it can’t do is give students the answers.

So far, there have been errors in how Khanmigo solves basic math problems, which have since fixed. Teachers and students across pilot districts have also said the tool occasionally offers too much help and was too available, especially when students were taking assessments such as quizzes and course challenges.

Teachers are also requesting more coaching on the differences between Khanmigo’s “student mode,” which guides students through lessons and problems, and “teacher mode,” which is designed to help educators plan lessons and collaborate on solutions.

Alan Reid, a researcher at John Hopkins Center for Research and Reform in Education, does not believe tools such as Khanmigo could replace human instruction completely. He sees educators using new platforms to supplement classroom work but wouldn’t be surprised if a teacher’s role shifts as technology evolves.

“That’s just by the nature of having so many digital programs and products and apps and screens and things that don’t lean on the instructor’s expertise as much as just the instructor becoming more of a guide and a facilitator through these products,” Reid added.

Chalkbeat Newark

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