If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Don't ban AI-powered chatbots

This article, in which Sal argues that AI-powered chatbots will be everywhere, and should be integrated into lessons and curriculum, is a revised version of an interview between Khan Academy founder Sal Khan and Alyson Klein, originally published in EducationWeek on 13 February, 2023.

Sal's view: Don’t ban AI-powered chatbots

We believe many careers will involve working with LLMs

Even if a ban could be truly effective, it might actually put kids at a disadvantage because it would prevent them understanding this transformative technology and developing skills that will help them in the future job market.

Question: How do you navigate a world where all of the students have access to AI?

Option 1: Have students do more writing in class periods, in front of you.
In a traditional model, classes often consist of a lecture and a little bit of discussion. And then students are expected to do all the creation and synthesis work outside of class.
But those take-home writing activities will not be as useful for assessment because teachers won’t know who is using AI and how.
With that in mind, the "writer's workshop" model will continue to be effective pedagogy—where kids are writing all the time. And the teacher and peers are giving each other feedback and saying, ‘Oh, you might want to tweak that, etc.’
Option 2: Embrace the new learning experiences AI can offer
This is the future. We’re now in a time when if you’re doing any form of writing, and you’re not at least considering and exploring how a large language model might assist you, you might be working inefficiently.

Question: Is the five paragraph essay dead?

Not at all. There will soon be effective ways for students to develop their writing skills while using AI as a writing partner and coach. Understanding how to draft a quality argumentative or informative essay will continue to have value—the difference will be the way we go about teaching the skill, and help students drive past basic structural formulas and the derivative text that the AI might generate, and push for original arguments and genuine insight.

Question: How can new experiences improve learning?

The old way of doing writing assignments: “Kids, hey, write your five-paragraph essay by Friday.” You hand it in, the teacher will grade it, maybe by Monday, and it might ruin their weekend. If you’re lucky, you have a teacher who gives you some helpful, actionable, personalized feedback. If you’re really lucky and have a really invested teacher who has the time and passion, they might let you iterate on it. But oftentimes, you just get a grade, and you move on to the next assignment.
With the learning experiences we’re envisioning, every kid is going to get immediate personalized writing coaching.
AI will make it more possible for students to practice reading comprehension and practice writing skills at the same time. Imagine an activity on Khan Academy where there’s a reference passage, maybe an article of the Constitution or a famous speech, and the student works with the AI to construct a quality argument anchored in that primary source.
Like a great Socratic tutor, the AI could ask the student questions like
  • “What argument is this author making?”
  • “What would be some thesis statements related to this argument that you could make?”
  • “How would you support this claim if you only had three sentences to convince someone?”
  • “Okay, now, back up each of those sentences. What kinds of support should we add?”
In this case, the AI wouldn’t write it for the student—this is a new learning experience where the student does the work while the AI helps them to develop their critical thinking skills.
Human judgment, discernment and reason remain out of the reach of AI. Humanity needs to develop these skills as much as ever—arguably more than ever.

Want to join the conversation?