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The University of Washington has developed a new product called Colleague, which uses AI and chatbots to assist K-12 teachers in creating lesson plans. The platform provides tutorial videos, chatbots for prompts, existing plans that can be customized, and a repository of vetted educational resources. The goal is to help teachers save time in lesson planning, allowing for more time to spend with students. Currently, Colleague focuses on math but plans to expand to other subjects in the future.

Tim Chalberg, a math specialist in Tacoma Public Schools, worked with the Colleague team and found the platform to make modern math teaching practices more accessible. One of the features he appreciates is the support for instruction in multiple languages, which saves him time and provides new ideas when drafting questions for assignments. Colleague also uses AI to evaluate lesson plans against 10 parameters, providing specific ways to improve the plan if needed.

The use of AI tools in education has been increasing, with various platforms offering support for teachers in lesson planning and other tasks. Seattle Public Schools recently started using AI software from MagicSchool AI, while Microsoft announced free access to its AI cloud infrastructure for Khan Academy. However, schools and districts face challenges in integrating AI tools appropriately. Concerns over AI being used for plagiarism and cheating have been raised, leading to the development of guidelines and legislation to guide AI use in schools.

Despite these challenges, Colleague aims to support teachers in creating engaging and research-based lesson plans by using AI and chatbots. The platform is designed to align with local standards and curriculum, offer vetted educational resources, and provide feedback on lesson plan quality. The team behind Colleague plans to expand resources to include other subjects, starting with computer science and STEM subjects. The tool will continue to be available for free, with support from public and private foundations.

While educators like Chalberg see the value in AI tools like Colleague, they emphasize the importance of district policies around AI use for widespread adoption. Colleague has partnered with local educational agencies to ensure alignment with district policies, but formal guidelines are needed to support the use of AI tools in the classroom. The development of AI tools for education is ongoing, with a focus on providing valuable support for teachers and improving student outcomes.

In conclusion, Colleague is a valuable resource for teachers looking to save time and create high-quality lesson plans. The platform’s use of AI and chatbots helps educators align with local standards, access vetted resources, and receive feedback on lesson plan quality. As AI tools become more prevalent in education, guidelines and legislation are being developed to ensure appropriate use in schools. The team behind Colleague plans to expand resources to include other subjects and maintain the tool’s availability for free, emphasizing the social value of AI in education for the benefit of future generations.

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