AI in the Classroom: The New, New Normal?

In December of 2022, Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna brought the discussion of artificial intelligence or “AI” to the TESL Ontario community with her post, AI in the Classroom: Love It or Hate It – It’s Here. Cecilia piqued our curiosity by showing us an example of a test text generation and suggested three ways that she was considering using AI with her lessons.   

Since then, there has been a tsunami of hype over the recently released text-generative artificial intelligence resources based on Open AI’s ChatGPT 3.5 chatbot. As professionals, we need to consider our classrooms and beyond to become aware, learn, discuss and define how we are going to live in this new, new normal. Yes, new, new, since the post-COVID era was the first new normal as reported by (Van Dorp & McBride, 2022), (Carter & Seoudi, 2022) and (Cummings & Fayed, 2022). Since the release of ChatGPT in November of 2022, educators are now in another reality, whether we like it or not.   

Social media, newspapers, magazines, online video-sharing sources, and newscasts are inundated with AI items referring to resources, advice, opinions, exemplars, and forecasts of doom or bounty. This craze really came home when I saw this week’s Time magazine featuring a ChatGPT conversation on its cover! Even the numbers bear this out. The Union Bank of Switzerland reported that ChatGPT earned 100 million active users in two months., making it the fastest-growing app of all time.  (Tung, 20223)   

As we are in an early stage of this AI disruption, we should work together to decide whether or not we should ban AI tools as the New York City’s Department of Education did when it blocked ChatGPT or harness their potential capabilities (Jimenez, 2023).  As a step forward in this direction, a few of us will be meeting to discuss this issue on Tutela. Feel free to join us to either listen in or contribute your experience or views:  

Webinar on the Tutela network: AI (ChatGPT) Ban it or embrace it? 
When: Wednesday, Mar 8 | 7:00 PM EST 
Register here: 

Language teachers can benefit from a myriad of functions that ChatGPT will perform if prompted appropriately. It can be a teacher’s worst enemy but it can also be a teacher’s best friend. What are we going to do with this AI disruption? Just like novel technologies in the past, we have to put the strengths and weaknesses on a scale and decide how to move forward.  

Teacher’s Assistant? 

ChatGPT offers the potential to function as an assistant to make lesson preparation more efficient. Consider that lesson plans can be created by prompting ChatGPT. It can provide more suitable information based on a teacher’s prompts. It can generate quizzes with mixed-question types or assignments as well as output answer keys. It can even assess student writing based on your prompts. It can summarize research including entire reports, web pages, or case studies if you provide the link or the text content. It can function as a writing assistant. Wait; is that a good thing? Read the next paragraph. ChatGPT can provide clear explanations of complex concepts, processes or terms so you can enhance your expertise on unfamiliar topics. It generates rubrics, slideshow outlines, pre-reading activities, vocabulary-building worksheets, discussion prompts and grade-written submissions with suggestions for improvement as well as examples. 

Potential Challenges 

There are also several issues that teachers should consider as they and their learners start using ChatGPT. Teachers and students could become overly reliant on AI tools. AI tools are not always accurate and, in some cases, generate nonsense, so users must carefully check information before sharing or submitting documents. Students may use AI tools to create assignments and possibly plagiarize the content directly. Educational departments and institutions will need to change academic policies to meet the new challenges presented by AI tools such as ChatGPT. This will definitely have to be followed up with teacher training on AI issues and techniques. 

Digital Citizenship and ChatGPT 

So now that the genie is out of the bottle, what can we as educators do? We can use the guiding principles of digital citizenship to assist our learners to be responsible, ethical users of AI tools such as ChatGPT.  Good digital citizenship practices include:

  • providing clear technology usage guidelines
  • modeling respectful communication
  • promoting digital privacy and safety
  • encouraging critical thinking and fact-checking
  • and enabling student voices on local and global platforms.  

Final Thoughts 

The debate will continue as more students and teachers become more versed in AI apps. We cannot turn our backs on AI and feign ignorance as it is most likely already being used by some of our students already. We can meet in our various PLNs, teams and organizations to share and consolidate our knowledge and experience to ensure that AI tools are used respectfully and have a place in our classrooms. Or, we can keep AI out of our classrooms entirely. It is our choice. Which option will you choose? Post in the comments box below to start the conversation.   

Feel free to join us in person at TESL Niagara to participate in four AI-focused sessions. 

Where: Niagara College: AI Chat & Language Education? 

When: Date:  Saturday, April 29th from 9:30am-3pm ET  
Register at:   


Carter, A., & Seoudi, S. (2022, March 27). Inclusive online course design: Lessons from a pandemic. Contact Magazine. Ryerson University. 

Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna, AI in the Classroom: Love It or Hate It – It’s Here.  

Cummings, J., & Fayed, I. (2022, November 29). Inclusive online course design: Lessons learned during COVID-19: Towards blended learning and teaching in LINC and ESL. Contact Magazine. Yorkville University. 

Time Magazine cover Feb 27 2023,  

Introducing ChatGPT, 

Jimenez, Kayla. (2023). ‘This shouldn’t be a surprise’ The education community shares mixed reactions to ChatGPT. USA Today. Published Jan 30, 2023. Accessed Feb 23, 2023. 

Tung, Liam. (2023, February 3). ChatGPT just became the fastest-growing ‘app’ of all time. ZDNET. Retrieved from  

Van Dorp, N., & McBride, R. (2022, March 27). Learning technology in LINC – Beyond the pandemic. Contact Magazine. 

Hi—I'm John Allan. I am an educator who works in the technology enhanced language learning field. I create online learning opportunities and mentor instructors on the Avenue project. I have experience teaching ESL and EFL in Canada and the Middle East. I hold an MSC in Computer Assisted Language learning, a M.Ed. in Distance Education, TESL B. Ed., a B.Ed. (OCT), and a variety of TESL relevant certifications from TESL Canada, TESL Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Education. For more articles, learning objects, projects and blog links see


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