VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia Beach City Public Schools are keeping a close eye on artificial intelligence.

Sharon Shewbridge, VBCPS’s director of instructional technology, said that since last November when Chat GPT was released, her department has monitored the quick evolution of the generative AI tool.

“These advancing technologies are moving faster so we have to stay on top of what’s coming out,” Shewbridge said.

Due to student privacy concerns and age requirements, students do not have Open AI access in schools. Open AI is limited to teachers and administrators in the school district.

Shewbridge believes it can be a positive tool for staff. She wants them to leverage it for good and use it as a springboard to generate ideas.

There are many examples of how teachers can use it to benefit both them and their students. It can help level the field for learning, offer help with class plans and lead to developing creative lessons.

“We had an elementary school teacher who needed a story, but had multiple levels of readers in the class,” Shewbridge said.

The teacher was able to ask ChatGPT for a story at three different reading levels.

“With the same story or article, (she) could do it with her whole class because it was at a level students could use,” Shewbridge said.

AI does not replace teachers, but it can support them.

Shewbridge stressed that with each example, that educators have to use it wisely.

“It really requires the lens of the user to make sure the information they are getting is accurate,” Shewbridge said.

Old Dominion University instructional technology professor Helen Crompton said AI needs to be taken seriously in education.

Crompton said it can assist teachers and expedite work they have before they are able to be in the classroom.

“AI can do a lot of that busy work and get us back in front of our students, to be with them with these tools alongside, to be a copilot to help them learn,” Crompton said.

From lesson plans to accessible learning, AI can be a gamechanger for educators.

“It opens our toolbox to so many other ideas and examples,” Shewbridge said, “that might not have been available for teachers before”.

Crompton joined WAVY Digital Desk Host Sarah Goode for a Back to School conversation about AI in education. Watch the full conversation in the player below.