Mar 03 2023

Could the Disruptive Power of AI-Generated Images and Videos Impact K–12 Learning?

Why machine learning that generates images and video could have use cases in K–12 schools.

Have you noticed any fantasy-inspired portrait posts in your social media feeds lately? You might just be looking at AI-generated content, a new development in the exponentially expanding world of artificial intelligence that has emerged over the past few years.

Platforms like Stable Diffusion and DALL-E 2 allow users to input a text prompt to create an AI-generated image that may or may not accurately reflect what the user intended.

Other tech companies are now getting into the mix. Microsoft recently announced that it will be adding AI image generation to the Office 365 suite, allowing users to insert these images into Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. Google’s Imagen Video platform allows users to create videos from text prompts, and Meta also has announced a similar video generation tool. 

Yet, beyond impressing social media followers, generative AI, though still in its infancy, also has applications for K–12 education.

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How Does AI-Generated Content Work?

Tianfu “Matt” Wu is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University and head of the Laboratory for interpretable Visual Modeling, Computing and Learning. Wu says there are two major models in testing: a text encoder trained to understand text inputs and an image decoder trained to synthesize a photorealistic image from the output of the text encoder.

RELATED: Learn more about Microsoft’s plans to incorporate ChatGPT into several apps.

“To a certain extent, the models are trained to encode and align different content, such as imagery and text, in some mathematical latent vector space, on top of which the models can be deployed to generate content,” Wu says.

Text prompts, however, are only one type of possible input or “condition” for generative AI content. Different inputs include sketches, other images or randomly sampled vectors, which follow a process called “unconditional generation.”

Tianfu “Matt” Wu
Similar in spirit to how YouTube has reshaped the learning experience for almost everyone, AI-generated content will certainly do more.”

Tianfu “Matt” Wu Associate Professor, North Carolina State University

What Potential Does AI-Generated Content Hold?

While generative AI might seem like just a fun experience for general users, Wu says the technology could significantly affect society.

In fact, AI-generated content could serve as “powerful and useful assistants and assets to human experts by significantly improving their productivity and by potentially augmenting their creativity,” he says.

Within education, Wu believes that AI-generated content could be “leveraged in rethinking and redesigning educational resources and tools to facilitate better and faster learning experiences at all levels.”

For example, AI could create personalized content models for teaching and learning, replacing textbooks.

Rachelle Dene Poth, a 2021 EdTech influencer and teacher who regularly presents about AI to her fellow K–12 educators, agrees that AI can support personalized learning.

DIG DEEPER: Learn how Google’s adaptive technologies help amplify educators’ instruction.

“Game-based learning tools, for example, have AI built into them, so they can create personalized learning paths for students,” Poth says. She has also been teaching about and using AI in her Spanish language classes and in science, technology, engineering, arts and math classes at Riverview School District in Oakmont, Pa., for several years.

“If I start a game in my class in real time with my Spanish-language students,” she says, “with AI built into that as the students are answering, it can adjust and make its own personalized learning path.”

Poth also sees generative AI as an opportunity for students to engage in close reading, creativity and critical analysis.

For Wu, AI’s impact on education is only beginning. “Similar in spirit to how YouTube has reshaped the learning experience for almost everyone, AI-generated content will certainly do more,” he says.

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