#284 – MagicSchool, with Adeel Khan

Unpacking Education May 1, 2024 47 min

In this episode, we are joined by Adeel Khan, a former teacher and principal and the founder of MagicSchool. Adeel shares his story of what led him to develop MagicSchool, and he shines light on various features that educators will find useful in the platform. As part of the conversation, we discuss how MagicSchool can simplify the use of AI, making it more accessible to teachers, students, and administrators.

Paul Beckermann
PreK–12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
STEM Facilitator and Digital Learning Specialist
Dr. Winston Benjamin
Social Studies and English Language Arts Facilitator

We believe teachers are irreplaceable.

MagicSchool website, from their mission statement

Teachers Are Magic

As a longtime educator, Adeel knows firsthand the pressures and stresses that teachers and administrators face every day. Many are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. When generative AI hit the mainstream with ChatGPT, Adeel quickly realized that this powerful new tool could help reduce educator workload and assist with time-consuming tasks. His passion to help educators led him to develop MagicSchool.

Adeel says, “Teachers are magic and deserve the best, and we’re going to do our absolute best to give them what they need. That’s a mentality we all need to have if we’re going to start solving this crisis of teacher burnout and having these amazing teachers staying in the classroom in front of our kids.” A few highlights from our conversation are highlighted below:

  • About Our Guest: Adeel Khan is a lifelong educator. He began his career as a middle and high school teacher in Atlanta, Georgia, teaching special education, English, and history. He then served as a principal before creating MagicSchool.
  • A Desire for the Best: Adeel says, “I had the opportunity in 2017 to found a new public charter school called Conservatory Green High School that is my dream manifest. It’s an absolutely incredible school. We founded it on a very simple premise, which is that we’re going to love the heck out of students. We’re going to build strong relationships with them, and we’re going to believe in them deeply, hold them to high expectations, and support them when they fall. And good things will happen, and they certainly have.” In fact, the school became the top-performing public school in the Denver area.
  • Discovering ChatGPT: After a personal sabbatical from education, Adeel became excited by the release of ChatGPT in November 2022. He says, “I was just struck by how much utility there was for educators in the platform.” He believed it could genuinely help educators in a way that he’d never seen technology be able to do before.
  • Helping With Burnout: Adeel describes one of his reasons for believing in AI. He says, “I had experienced the crisis of teacher burnout as a principal and a teacher and saw so many amazing teachers leave the classroom. And this is the first time a technology could potentially enhance their sustainability, and add capacity to them, and take some tasks off their plate.”
  • Simplifying the Experience: While powerful, Adeel found that AI could still be challenging for many teachers to use. Some couldn’t find the time to figure it out. Others struggled with prompt generation. Some said to him, “It wasn’t saving me time. It was costing me time because I became frustrated having to iterate on prompts and figure this out.” To remedy this, he created MagicSchool as a way to simplify the process for end users by guiding them through some simple and meaningful prompts. Adeel explains, “MagicSchool becomes this really good bridge for people to get toward this transformational technology.”
  • Fast Growth: Since its launch in May 2023, MagicSchool’s popularity has quickly grown. In 10 months, it has gathered nearly 2,000,000 users. Adeel says, “We have reason to believe right now that there is an educator in every school in the country that has used MagicSchool.”
  • MagicSchool: MagicSchool’s teacher dashboard features over 60 task options. The tasks are designed to be teacher-friendly and familiar. Adeel says that after opening an option, you will be prompted to answer some key guiding questions. He adds, “After you do that up-front thinking as an educator, you click ‘Generate,’ and you off-load some of the doing to AI, and AI will create a beautiful first draft. . . . We kind of do some of that prompt engineering behind the scenes to make this really approachable.”
  • MagicStudent: MagicSchool has recently released a new companion product, MagicStudent, which is built into the same platform. MagicStudent is a suite of AI tools for students to use, but it is managed by the teacher. Adeel describes it as a way to allow students to safely experience AI. He says, “Launch it to students, and they get this really safe-walled garden of AI usage that’s not banning it but rather saying, ‘This is technology and a competency you need for the future. Let’s use it under the control and guidance of myself, your teacher.’”
  • Favorite Modules: Adeel calls out some favorite options in MagicSchool, including a restorative practices generator, a song generator, a rubric builder, and a depth of knowledge question generator. He describes these tools as thought partners for the teacher.
  • Favorite Parts of MagicStudent: Adeel is very excited about the entire student suite. He highlights a few specific selections as favorites, including a character chatbot, a skit generator, a rap battle generator, and powerful assistive technology tools and learning assistants for students to use, such as Tutor Me. These AI assistants can become personal and timely helpers for students needing a little extra assistance. With these tools, he says, “Students can go into class feeling really equipped to meet their grade-level peers at where they’re at with this assistive technology, and that, to me, is like world-changing.”
  • Safety and Compliance: MagicSchool is FERPA and COPPA compliant and has data breach policies in place. Adeel says that his team has “put a ton of time and effort” into safety and compliance. He adds, “We’ve heard from district leaders that this is the most comprehensive privacy suite that they’ve ever seen.”
  • Mostly Free: While MagicSchool is a “freemium” product, with some features available only behind a paywall, the vast majority of features and tools are available to users for free. With a subscription, schools and individual users can gain access to added functionality, like one-click exports, extra editing options, unlimited prompts, and a history of generated prompts.
  • Happy Teachers: Adeel says, “When you have happy teachers, you have a really great school, and for our product, it’s all about teachers. Our slogan is, ‘Teachers are magic,’ because they are the center of a child’s universe. They are what makes the world go round in education, and however we can serve them best is what we’re here to do.”

Guiding Questions

If you are listening to the podcast with your instructional team or would like to explore this topic more deeply, here are guiding questions to prompt your reflection:

  • What AI tools have you tried?
  • With what education tasks would you like more help?
  • How might AI help you with some of those tasks?
  • What do you like most about MagicSchool?
  • What do you like most about MagicStudent?
  • How might you and your staff use these products in your school?

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