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Aug. 11, 2023

Ask the expert: How to navigate AI and social media in education

Christine Greenhow is a professor of educational psychology and educational technology in Michigan State University’s College of Education. Greenhow is an expert on learning in social media contexts with the goal of improving theory, practice and policy. She shares insights on how artificial intelligence, or AI, is impacting social media in the education space.

Headshot of Christine Greenhow
Christine Greenhow, a professor of educational psychology and educational technology in Michigan State University’s College of Education, focuses her research on learning in online environments, including social media contexts.

With AI-powered technologies like ChatGPT and social media increasingly making their way into our personal lives, education and workplaces, many teachers, parents and other stakeholders have questions. Here are some things to consider for the upcoming school year.

These technologies pose both possibilities and pitfalls for teaching and learning. It is important to evaluate their value as teaching aides as well as their risks.

What are some examples of how AI and social media can assist education and learning?

AI like ChatGPT can help teachers personalize learning by producing multiple examples of concepts to help individualize explanations for different learning styles or students at various levels. It also can assist with evaluation by generating short formative assessments like a quiz on a news article or help evaluate sudents’ writing. Students can use AI to tackle writer’s block and get constructive feedback on their writing based on elements of style.

Over a decade of research revealed that social media can enhance interactions between students, between students and teachers, and with people and resources outside the classroom. TikTok, YouTube and other social media also can be a boon for teachers looking for just-in-time lessons, resources, emotional support, and gateways to professional learning opportunities beyond their local school community. 

What are some pitfalls associated with AI in educational spaces?

To generate quality outputs, AI depends on a human collaborator with enough expertise to check for inaccuracies or hallucinations — made up information — or direct the AI to use information from trusted sources like published, peer-reviewed research, specific data and credible websites.

Perhaps most importantly, technologies like ChatGPT and social media are powered by algorithms and machine learning that introduce ethical challenges in educational settings. We identified four key areas that teachers and parents need to consider when using these technologies in the classroom: data privacy, surveillance, autonomy, and algorithmic bias and discrimination.

In short, it is critical for us to figure out the best ways to use these teaching and learning tools, lest they use us.

By: Christine Greenhow

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