There is lots of chatter about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will affect education. And there are a variety of AI chatbots that are now available or in development. The main concern is students using the chatbots to complete their assignments for them and not actually learning the material and skills we want them to know. But, there are also many ways that these chatbots can enhance education!
One way is to make teacher’s and homeschool parent’s lives easier. I decided as a homeschool parent to try to create a unit study with AI technology. You will see from the results below that these chatbots can be a huge help to anyone wanting a quick way to come up with activities to use with a book or topic they would like to explore. Here are the details to help you get started in creating unit studies with AI techonology and some of the challenges involved. (And, if you are not sure what I mean by a unit study, learn more here.)
(Note: This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read our full disclosure. Also, I received free and early access to Khanmigo in exchange for writing an article. Throughout this post I will share my honest and unbiased interactions with it.)
For my trial, I used Khanmigo from Khan Academy and ChatGPT from OpenAI to compare what each chatbot would generate. First a little bit about these two chatbots.
Khanmigo vs. ChatGPT
Khan Academy, known for its free online courses, practice activities and instructional videos, recently released Khanmigo. Khanmigo uses AI technology to specifically help teachers and homeschool parents write lessons. It also has a tutoring interface, which looks very promising that I will discuss in another post.
Khanmigo is a $20/month donation. Right now, just like ChatGPT, it is only available to people ages 18 and up. But it is being designed so that children will be able to eventually use it as a study tool with safeguards in place. A key feature is that while Khanmigo provides you with answers to math problems and essays if you ask, it does so through modeling how to do it rather than just giving you the answer or essay outright.
ChatGPT is for the general public and is designed to assist people with a wide variety of tasks. There is a free version, which I used to create the unit studies below and there is a Pro version which is $20/month. If you have the Pro version, your use of the chatbot is prioritized over people using the free version during high traffic times. There have been times when I was unable to access ChatGPT due to the high volume of traffic. If you plan on using ChatGPT regularly, you need to either be flexible with when you want to be on it or pay for the pro version.
The user’s interaction with each of these chatbots is similar. You ask questions and they generate answers. You can then respond with more requests if you would like more information about the topic.
One key difference with Khanmigo is they have a menu to choose from before you start asking questions. For example, for the two unit studies below, I first selected “Create a humanities lesson plan”. It then asked me some questions to determine exactly what I was looking for such as the grade and topic for the lesson and whether I wanted a rough draft of the lesson plan or more detailed information.
“Create a humanities lesson plan” was just one of several menu options. Others included “create a fun class summary poem” and “create a lesson hook”. There was also an option to just open a generic chat with Khanmigo.
ChatGPT does not ask questions to help determine what you are looking for. It only provides responses to your questions. So you need to think through the specific information you want to provide to help shape the answers you receive.
Create A Preschool or Kindergarten Unit Study with AI Technology
First, I asked both chatbots, Khanmigo and ChatGPT, to create a rough draft for a lesson plan based on A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle that could be used with kindergartners. They provided similar rough drafts, but Khanmigo had a few extra features in their lesson plan that are helpful. ChatGPT, on the other hand, gave a more specific procedure for each step in the lesson and how long each step would take.
Both chatbots gave similar objectives such as “Students will be able to retell the story in their own words.” Both chatbots gave a list of activities plus a few extension activities. They provided a list of materials for the lessons including a few for hands-on extension activities.
Khanmigo also provided an Essential Question: How do we adapt and grow as we experience new things in life? It gave the instructor a “hook” or questions to start the lesson to pull kids in. They were related to moving to a new home or classroom. Khanmigo also provided a way to assess children’s learning during and after the lesson, some higher-order thinking questions, and a way to differentiate activities for struggling learners. It definitely felt more like a formal lesson plan.
ChatGPT, on the other hand, gave more specific explanations on how to carry out the lesson and how long each section would last. For example, it gave specific questions for the instructor to ask children while reading the book. For a sequencing activity it cued the instructor to draw a timeline on chart paper or a whiteboard and have children help put key events in order. It stated this sequencing activity would last about 10 minutes. These type of details are good for a newer homeschool parent who might want a more specific set of instructions. They are also helpful for students teachers or homeschool parents who are leading a co-op class.
I asked each of the chatbots for more hands-on extension activities for the book and they both generated a great list! Here are screenshots of them:
Create a Middle Grade Unit Study with AI Technology
Next, I asked both Khanmigo and ChatGPT to create a rough draft of a lesson plan about the geography, culture and history of Poland for 3rd-8th graders. They created similar plans with the same differences as the kindergarten unit study above.
Khanmigo’s lesson plan contained a hook, higher order thinking questions, and a way to assess learning while ChatGPT did not. ChatGPT provided more instruction on how to go through the lesson and how long each section should take. ChatGPT also gave a craft activity in the original rough draft while Khanmigo did not.
Both chatbots referred to using a timeline of key historical events in Poland’s history as part of the lesson. So next I asked each one to “Please provide a historical timeline for Poland that can be used in this lesson.”
They both provided 13 events or periods in Poland’s history. About half of the entries were the same between the two chatbots. Either would be great to use with the lesson. And if you want more or less events, you could ask for a specific number.
Both lesson plans talked about exploring Poland’s geographical features and showing images of famous landmarks. So next, I asked them to provide some geographical features and landmarks we should explore. They each provided 10 places including mountains, rivers, cities, and castles and the lists were pretty similar between the two chatbots.
While it is super helpful to have the chatbots generate these outlines, there is still a need to find actual resources to teach about these places. So I asked them to provide a list of YouTube videos about some of the different places. Here is where there seemed to be a big difference between the two chatbots! “Seemed” being the key word here.
Khanmigo stated “I’m sorry, but I cannot provide direct links to YouTube videos. However, I can suggest some search terms and video titles that you can use to find appropriate videos on YouTube.” One thing to note about Khanmigo is it has more protections in place to eventually allow children to interact with it safely. This appears to be one of those safeguards. (Or maybe it is how it decided to deal with the issue below that ChatGPT had in finding videos?)
ChatGPT on the otherhand, provided video links to nine of the places in its list. BUT….each link went to a screen on YouTube saying “This video isn’t available anymore.” So my excitement about a list of curated links was quickly gone. And according to a Reddit chat thread, this is a common problem with ChatGPT as it is relying on keywords in URLs and YouTube uses a series of random letters and numbers.
So while both Khanmigo and ChatGPT are great at generating WHAT you should study based on a topic, at this point you are still going to have curate the resources.
Finally, I asked for a list of hands-on activities to use as part of the unit. They both gave great ideas for art projects and food to make specific to Poland. And they gave some more general project ideas that you could use while studying a variety of countries such as writing a travel journal, creating a timeline, or designing a travel brochure.
In summary, both Khanmigo and ChatGPT are great at outlining a unit study and providing hands-on activities, discussion questions, and specific details to study such as historical events and important places.
ChatGPT is the only one of the two that has a free version at this time and this is a compelling reason for many homeschool families to choose it. However, if you want to use a chatbot several times a week as part of your homeschool and don’t want to become frustrated with not being able to access ChatGPT due to high volume, then a paid plan may be appropriate.
If you decide you want a paid plan, I would probably recommend Khanmigo over ChatGPT Pro if your goal is to use it for educational purposes. Reason being that it was designed with education in mind. The lesson plans are more comprehensive and the tutoring portion of it is very promising. It is also being designed to put safeguards in for children and students.
So do you have plans to use an AI chatbot to help you design any upcoming homeschool lessons?
By the way, if you want a unit study about Poland with the resources curated for you 😉: