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5 AI Tools for Teachers

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

You have probably come across the endless lists of artificial intelligence (AI) tools for teachers. If you are like me, a list that includes no explanation of what the tool can do for me is of little use. I know that AI tools have the potential to save time and enhance my teaching practice, but I don’t have the time to research each tool in these long lists. Therefore I have done some of the legwork for you, and in this blog post I will share my five top AI tools for teachers.


These five AI tools are those that I have found to help me the most with my teaching practice. I have found that many of the AI tools currently on the market perform one specific task. Therefore, I have tried to find the tools that give me the most bang for my buck. For example, I have tried several text generator tools and narrowed it down to those that have the most functionality and integrate the best with my daily workflow. I have ordered the list by starting with the quickest option, but all five tools have various entry points in terms of simplicity or not. Some of the tools shared are free, some are a freemium model, and some require a purchase.


Why AI Tools for Teachers?

Before we dive into the what and how of AI tools for teachers, I think it is important to discuss the why. Why should you, as a teacher, take the time to explore and use AI-based tools? For this post's purposes, I want to focus on uses for teachers, not students. There is much debate about using AI with students, so let’s not go there for now!


I have my own list of reasons, but I was curious what an AI chatbot would tell me are the reasons teachers should use AI-based tools. I asked ChatGPT: "Why should teachers try AI tools?" The following reasons were provided (I condensed this into a list with no explanations, although lengthy descriptions of each bullet were provided):

  • Assist with personalizing learning

  • Save time

  • Enhance instruction

  • Help with data-driven decision making

  • Create engaging learning experiences

  • Prepare students for the future

This is quite comprehensive of my “why AI for teachers” list! I echo all of the above and want to add a few points:

  • Save time and open time to spend with students: I want to emphasize the potential for saving time. A shared sentiment of every teacher is the need for more time. AI tools really can help you save time on those time-sucking, administrative tasks like composing emails, entering grades, and analyzing data. Furthermore, what was not mentioned in ChatGPT’s response is what teachers can do with this additional time: spend more time on student-centered tasks, such as giving immediate feedback, fostering personal connections, and creating engaging learning tasks.

  • Define the future of AI in education: Everyone has questions about the implications of AI on formal education; currently, there are very few answers. But guess what?

The educators who explore AI now will be the ones who define the future of AI in educational environments.

  • The new digital divide: If you follow me on socials, you have no doubt seen my posts about AI being the new digital divide. Every time I try a new AI tool, the more this feeling is solidified. The new digital divide will become those that can use AI to save time and create amazing things versus those that can't. Knowing how to efficiently use AI, and where AI can save time, will soon become an integral job skill for you and your students.

Conker by Mote

I mentioned Conker briefly in my blog post FETC and TCEA 2023: EdTech Must-Knows and Must-Try Tools, but I feel it needs to make my top five list too. I am including it first, because if you are looking for the simplest AI tool to begin your AI journey, Conker is your ticket. Conker is created by our friends at Mote, and another bonus is it is free.


Conker creates formative assessments using AI. The assessments can be completed in Conker, exported to Google Forms, or printed.


I asked Conker to create a multiple choice quiz with five questions for high school students about sanitary kitchen procedures.

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Creating a quiz in Conker

Then I exported the questions to Google Forms. This entire process took me about three minutes. See how it did:

Canva

If you follow my work, you know I am a big fan of Canva for basically everything. I use Canva every single day for one use or another, and I didn’t think Canva could get any better until AI came along. I am including Canva second in the list, because if you are already a Canva user, Canva is a great starting point to explore the capabilities of generative AI.


Here are a few AI-driven features in Canva that I love:

  • Magic Write: AI text generator that also edits, summarizes, and brainstorms suggestions.

  • Text to Image: Type what you want to see and Canva generates several image options. I love this for creating pictures of “students” that aren’t actual students (for privacy reasons, of course).

  • Translate: Translate text in any Canva design. Currently, over 130 languages are supported.

There are many other AI-driven features in Canva, so I asked Canva’s Magic Write feature to write a blog post that explains what AI tools Canva has available and this was the result:


“Canva is a popular graphic design tool that offers a range of artificial intelligence (AI) features to help users create stunning designs quickly and easily. Here are some of the AI tools that Canva has:

  • Magic Resize: This tool uses AI to automatically resize designs to fit different social media platforms, saving users time and effort.

  • Background Remover: With this tool, users can quickly remove backgrounds from images using AI technology, making it easy to create transparent images for use in designs.

  • Color Palette Generator: Canva's AI-powered color palette generator helps users choose the perfect color scheme for their designs by creating a set of complementary colors based on an uploaded image.

  • Font Pairing Suggestions: Canva's AI technology can suggest font pairings based on the user's design and preferences, taking the guesswork out of choosing the perfect font combination.

  • Smart Mockups: Canva's AI-powered mockup generator allows users to easily create realistic product mockups without the need for professional photography equipment or editing skills.

Overall, Canva's AI tools help users create professional-looking designs quickly and easily, even if they have little to no design experience.”


Canva for Education is free to schools.

Notion

If you are a Google Docs user but growing impatient waiting for AI text generation to come to Docs, Notion is a tool worth exploring. If you didn't catch it, I am on this list of impatient Google Doc users! (Google has announced generative AI is coming to Docs and Gmail but has not provided a timeline). Therefore, I have been using Notion over the last several months, and it has really grown on me. Notion describes itself as an all-in-one tool that combines features of a word processing doc, wiki, and project management software.


Google Docs has started to evole to what Google calls a “smart canvas.” Google uses what they call smart chips to embed content such as files, calendar events, dates, and dropdown menus into Google Docs. Notion is similar to Google’s smart canvas but with even more features, such as AI text generation.


Notion is organized in “blocks.” This is different from word processing programs, such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word, because you can easily drag and drop blocks to any location on a page. This is quicker than copy and paste, if you can believe it! The blocks are also what make the integrations so great. I have described the main block types below to give you an idea of Notion’s integration capabilities:

  • Basic blocks: Text, Notion pages, to-do lists, tables, quotes, dividers, links, callouts.

  • Media blocks: Images, videos, web bookmarks, audio, code, files.

  • Database blocks: Create different views from data such as timelines, calendars, lists, kanban boards, etc.

  • Advanced blocks: Table of contents, buttons, equations, columns, more code options.

  • Inline blocks: Tags and mentions for people, dates, pages.

  • Embed blocks: Embed any web content, such as Google Drive files, Tweets, PDFs, Google Maps, Figma designs, etc.

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A view of Notion blocks.

In addition to all these great features and integrations, Notion has several AI-based features, one of which is AI blocks:

  • Summary: This AI block will generate a summary from the content on that page.

  • Action items: This AI block will create a to-do list from the content on that page.

  • Custom: This AI block allows you to generate content from a custom instruction.

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Notion's AI blocks

As I mentioned above, there are hundreds of AI text generator tools that will write for you. I have tried quite a few of these text generators but found I was always moving away from the tools I use every day. ChatGPT, for example, will generate text but then you have to copy and paste that text into a document, slide, spreadsheet, etc., and the pasting process often messes up the formatting. Therefore, when I heard about Notion’s AI writing assistant you can bet I was all over it.


The Notion AI writing assistant is fairly new but so far I am really impressed. You simply select the plus sign to add a new block and choose “Ask AI to write…”:

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Notion AI

Some AI writing tools rely on you giving a strong prompt to execute the writing that you desire. Notion has the ability to choose specifics for the writing prompt. For example, you can select “See more” and then select “essay” or “creative story.” Then, once the writing is done, you can select “See more” again and use it to further finesse your writing by using commands such as “make shorter” or “simplify language.” I really like the simplify language feature for teachers looking to align text with specific reading levels for their students. Notion AI also has a translate feature that has almost fifteen language options at the time of writing.


I asked Notion AI to write a blog post titled “5 AI Tools for Teachers.” How did it do?


Notion is a freemium tool, which means you get basics for free and can upgrade if you want more features. Use my affiliate link to learn more about Notion and how it can save you time:

Merlyn

If you want an AI tool that will transform your instructional practice and save time, you need to check out Merlyn.


Merlyn is a digital assistant for teachers created by the company Merlyn Mind. Merlyn is accessed through a device called the Symphony Classroom. According to the Merlyn Mind website: “Symphony Classroom is an AI hub, remote control, and AI software platform custom built for the unique needs of education and the privacy and security needs of schools.” Merlyn is to the Symphony Classroom as Alexa is to the Amazon Echo and Siri is to the iPhone. Merlyn is the AI assistant and Symphony Classroom is the hardware.

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My Symphony Classroom, an AI tool for teachers.

I have a Symphony Classroom, and I use it to give time-saving voice commands in my virtual teaching:

  • “Set a timer for five minutes.”

  • “Show my document camera.”

  • “Go to YouTube.”

  • “Start presentation with Pear Deck.”

  • “Search for pictures of augmented reality in Google.”

  • “Send to Google Classroom.”

  • “Pause video.”

  • “Open my presentation on AI in education.”

  • “Go to slide 8.”

Merlyn has many more time-saving voice commands.


The Symphony Classroom also comes with a remote that is most definitely on my top teaching tools list. The remote has features such as being able to control videos, scroll websites, switch device inputs, and a push-to-talk button for giving Merlyn voice commands. However, my favorite feature is the AirMouse, which turns the remote into a portable mouse that you can use to control devices being projected onto an external display from any location.

Symphony Classroom: An AI digital assistant for teachers.
My virtual teaching setup with my Symphony Classroom.

I love Merlyn, and I think you will too. To use Merlyn, you must purchase the Symphony Classroom device.

emulateMe

If you want to use AI to transform your digital learning materials, dive into emulateMe, which creates a talking AI avatar from any image. I created an avatar of myself and asked it: How can you use an AI avatar for teaching and learning? Here is the answer:

Let’s think about the possibilities here. You could turn any of the following into an AI avatar:

  • Yourself

  • Class pet

  • School mascot

  • Expert

  • Historical figure

  • Artist

  • Composer/musician

emulateMe is brand new, so there are definitely some little things to work through. This is the only AI avatar tool I can find right now, but I am sure more will be coming soon. Because of that, the pricing model isn’t fantastic. You can earn credits by sharing emulateMe with friends, or you can buy a subscription for just under $10/month. I purchased a subscription as I am already thinking of tons of uses. I can’t wait to see where AI avatar technology takes us! Be on the lookout for more tools like this.

More Tools: AI for Education Wakelet

I am adding any AI in education tools I come across to this Wakelet collection:

Let’s Talk AI

If you are interested in learning more about AI tools for teachers, and AI in education generally, follow me on your favorite social media platform. I am sharing lots of resources, ideas, and thoughts!


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