During last year’s back-to-school season, ChatGPT had not yet been unveiled, and generative AI wasn’t on everyone’s radar. However, today, the topic is more popular than ever, and new helpful AI tools for students are released daily.
A common misconception is that generative AI can harm education by promoting cheating. However, when used properly, these tools have the potential to improve student learning and transform workflow significantly.
As someone who consistently tests new generative AI tools, I wish I’d had these tools when I was in school.
Generative AI would have allowed me to focus on the tasks that would improve my education, helping me to produce higher quality output and create a better understanding of the material I was learning.
Today, a student can use AI to help them find sources for a paper, which cuts down on time searching on Google. They can then use the technology to save time on reading materials and synthesizing ideas into a paper.
The key to correctly using AI for schoolwork is identifying the right tools and use cases. Since there are so many tools, I compiled the list below from months of testing to make your life easier.
1. Bing Chat
Bing Chat is at the top of my list because of its multiple potential use cases that could improve a student’s workflow.
If you are familiar with ChatGPT, Bing Chat is the same concept — an AI chatbot, powered by OpenAI technology, but with significant differences that, in my testing, make it better.
First off, Bing Chat uses OpenAI’s most advanced large language model (LLM), GPT-4, for free. Besides Bing Chat, the only other GPT-4-based chatbot available is ChatGPT Plus, which costs $20 a month, which is a big outlay for a student who’s already juggling school expenses.
Another major pro for Bing Chat is that it’s connected to the internet and has information on all current events and sites, making it possible to access any information you need. The technology also cites its sources as footnotes, making it easier to fact-check and to avoid hallucinations.
Lastly, Bing Chat can answer everything that Google can, but instead of having to aimlessly search through the search results for what you’re looking for, the technology gives you the answer in an easy-to-understand response with footnotes that you can follow to lead you to the site.
Bing Chat also has the advanced writing, coding, and mathematical abilities that ChatGPT has, making it a great assistant for writing and editing essays, solving and explaining math problems, and generating and debugging code.
Some other ways you can use Bing Chat in your studies are:
- Answering questions you have about class or materials
- Researching for a paper
- Finding answers for take-home exams or assignments
- Explaining complex topics, such as history, current events, politics, and scientific terms, in a more digestible way
- Creating Excel formulas
- Making graphs and charts
- Planning vacation itineraries (we all need a break from school sometimes)
To find the best way to use Bing Chat for your own workflow, I recommend using it for the use cases discussed above and experimenting with different things.
I used Quizlet from middle school through college as a study tool to help me remember content for tests. Students can use it by building a study set with terms and definitions and then using various different learning methods, such as flashcards (my personal favorite), matching columns, and more.
Students can also browse the millions of study sets created by other users. When I was a student, I found that if I searched Quizlet for a study set about any topic or even a specific textbook, someone else had likely made one.
Although the platform is far from new, it has leveraged AI for more than six years to create its study features, such as its Learn mode, and to create testing options for students to review their material.
Quizlet recently delved further into AI by using OpenAI’s ChatGPT API to create an AI-enabled tutor called Q-Chat, which is available in beta for free.
I tested the AI tutor and its interactive question-answer prompt system impressed me. The AI tutor simulates a real conversation, either teaching you or testing you on the study information through a natural language dialogue.
Quizlet also recently announced other AI features, including Magic Notes, Memory Score, Quick Summary, and AI-enhanced Expert Solutions.
Overall, whether it’s the older standard tools I used or one of the more advanced ones, Quizlet is a powerful tool for learning and studying classroom materials, and learners of all ages can benefit from it.
As a student, a big portion of the documents you get are sent as PDFs. Whether these PDFs are class readings, research papers, or syllabi, they are often lengthy and tedious. ChatPDF can entirely change the way you interact with PDFs for your studies.
With ChatPDF, all you need to do is upload your PDF, and it will process your file in seconds. Then, you are redirected to a chatbot interface where you can ask ChatPDF any question you have regarding the PDF.
The questions can be as broad as asking for a summary of the PDF or as specific as asking for a particular term in the text and what it means. Once it finds an answer, it tells you where in the text it formulated its response from.
This tool can be leveraged when you read a research paper and are left with a million questions, or it can even quickly find the information you need to complete an assignment or paper.
ChatPDF would have changed my life for the better when I was at college and was sent papers to read almost every day. I even still use ChatPDF as a working professional to help me understand some otherwise complex topics and to double-check my findings.
Duolingo is a great app for learning a new language. Students can use it to supplement the language courses they are taking in school.
The appeal of the Duolingo app is that it gamifies the language-learning experience through bite-sized lessons that feel like individual quests. It also has a streak, leaderboard, league, and point system that motivates learners to want to keep going.
Even though I am not a student, I do have a 245-day streak in an attempt to learn a new language.
Foreign language courses are typically mandatory for students throughout their education, starting at the middle school level all the way through to college.
As if learning a new language isn’t already hard, my experiences suggest foreign language courses are not a priority for schools, especially at the younger learning levels, making them under-resourced and poorly taught.
Duolingo would be a great way to bridge the understanding gap that is being created in class. Test yourself on your understanding of the language before an exam or simply supplement your in-class lessons with some out-of-classroom practice.
Although younger learners can benefit from AI chatbots, such as Bing Chat, there are concerns about giving them access to the entirety of the internet. If you are a parent with those concerns, Socratic by Google is a great alternative.
With the Socratic app, students can type in any question about what they are learning in school or upload their worksheets. Then, the app will generate a conversational, human-like response with unique graphics and even related YouTube video links.
The app will not just pump out answers or generate essays. Instead, it will give step-by-step explanations and instructions that students can use to get the answer themselves, functioning as an intelligent learning tool.
To give parents peace of mind, Socratic also blocks inappropriate questions from being answered.
The app isn’t limited to younger learners, and Google actually refers to it as a “learning app from Google that helps high school and university students.” However, due to its functionality, I would say it’s actually better suited for younger learners because of the limits and the fun graphics.