Internet users are both intrigued and confused after it was revealed that an Austin, Texas school is now having Artificial Intelligence teach its courses.
According to KVUE, Alpha private school has its students use AI tools to learn “core subjects” at the beginning of the school day. Then, they spend the rest of their day “learning life skills like public speaking, overcoming rejection, grit and robotics.”
Tuition for the school is $40,000 per year, though Alpha private school co-founder MacKenzie Price claims that around 75% of their students are on some form of financial aid.
So what does this AI-powered education entail? According to Price, students use AI tools that teach them the same subjects as students in other schools; the AI then compensates for the students’ learning pace and level of understanding to better cater their lessons to them.
Education also involves AI-generated videos of historical figures “explaining their own histories with basic comprehension quizzes,” per KVUE’s Daranesha Herron.
This does not mean that there aren’t adults in the room. Rather, Price claims that the adult employees of the school serve as “coaches” rather than teachers.
“What we do have is a lot of adults who are in the room engaging with these kids, working as coaches,” Price tells KVUE. “So they’re helping the kids get clear on what are some goals that they’re working on, what are they doing academically? What are they interested in? How can we really turn on that spark for learning?”
KVUE reporter Ford Sanders (@fordsanders) later shared information from this report and more to his TikTok account.
@fordsanders AUSTIN SCHOOL USES AI TO TEACH STUDENTS, NO TEACHERS: This is wild! Alpha private school here in Austin doesn’t have teachers, rather they have what’s called “guides”. The students are taught fully using artificial intelligence. What do you think about this? KVUE’s @Daranesha has a ton of awesome AI stories like these! #ai #artificialintelligence #artificial #intelligent #intelligence #robot #chatgpt #future #modern #school #schoollife #student #students #studentlife #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teach #austin #austintx #austintexas #atx #atxlife #texas #tx #breakingnews #news #newsanchor #newsreporter #newsreport #kvue #kvuenews ♬ original sound – Ford Sanders
As Sanders notes, Price claims that students in her school learn twice as much in two hours as students in traditional schools do in six hours. Price did not provide a direct source for this claim, though she told KVUE that the school is able to measure academic progress using the MAP test, which measures academic achievement and growth.
However, some have concerns about implementing AI in classrooms.
“How do they check the quality of the information being shared and what is the level of social interaction these kids have during the day,” wrote one user in the commenters on Sanders’ TikTok.
This concern may be related to the recent spat of articles documenting issues with generative AI programs like ChatGPT. A team from Stanford and UC Berkeley recently published a research study that found that the accuracy of ChatGPT has gotten worse over time, and numerous scholars have noted the tendency of generative AI programs to “hallucinate” information that doesn’t actually exist.
Still, some in the comments section of Sanders’ TikTok were excited by the possibility of AI-powered education.
“Sounds like an amazing concept. I believe the teachers are important but the school system is a mess now so I can see why the AI alternative,” said a user.
“I have adhd and listening to a teacher is pointless for me, but I think I would pay attention if the person I’m learning about is teaching me,” offered another.
The Daily Dot reached out to Alpha via its website contact form.