AI and Organization

Explore ways that educators and students can improve their organizational skills with artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

Grades K-12 8 min Resource by:
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Organization involves managing materials, time, and thinking through systems and routines. That includes keeping track of where resources are stored, putting ideas and resources into a meaningful sequence or arrangement, and being able to access and process those resources when you need them.

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools can help us with these tasks, especially in a world where so much information and so many resources live in digital spaces. While the strategies listed below are important to teach our students, they may also potentially benefit us as educators.

One of the greatest benefits of storing content in a digital format is the ability to search for and locate specific pieces of information quickly and efficiently. In fact, nearly every storage system or content management tool has some form of an integrated search tool. These tools are powered by sophisticated algorithms, which are a form of AI. They’ve become so common that we might not even think of them as AI anymore, but they are.

If we can help our students learn how to effectively search their own notes and materials, we can help them have more control over their resources. Knowing how to find and access content is a key part of organization.

While most people are familiar with using a basic search field, very few take advantage of advanced search features. In Google Drive for instance, most users simply type in a keyword and hit enter. What they don’t realize is that they can click the slider icon on the right side of the search bar to reveal an advanced level of search limiters. They can limit their search query by file type, owner of the document, key words, words in the title, location, date modified, and more. By teaching students to use these features, we can empower them to take more control over locating their resources, and more efficient access can save them time.

Google’s NotebookLM is one of several AI-powered note-taking tools being developed. Evernote is another. These AI tools let you store resources in a central location. While that’s handy in and of itself and helps with organizing related content, the true power of these tools lies in the AI integration that is built into the platform.

In NotebookLM, for example, users get an instant summary of longer documents, which can save a lot of time locating relevant information. Users can also take notes that are connected to the original resources, and even more impressive, users can ask questions about one or more of the stored resources inside the notebook. It’s like having a learning assistant there to help you filter through your notes and find cross connections amongst the ideas posted there.

Let’s face it, time management is hard for a lot of people, adults included, and many students struggle mightily with staying caught up and on schedule. Fortunately, there are more tools being developed all the time to help us with this.

One tool that is gaining popularity is the AI-powered website, which describes itself as “a collection of small, simple, single-task tools, mostly designed to help neurodivergent people with tasks they find overwhelming or difficult.” Within, there are three tools that can help with time and project management. The main one is Magic ToDo, which allows users to build their own to-do lists or enter a task and click the magic wand icon to have the AI automatically generate a list of subtasks for you. If the auto-generated steps seem a little off, you can edit them. Then, as you complete tasks, you can check them off the list.

Another tool within the Goblin ecosystem is the Estimator. This tool helps you estimate how long it will take you to complete a task or project. This can be helpful for students who struggle with time management and need help staying on track to finish larger projects. Estimator can help them determine how much time they’ll need to set aside.

A third helpful tool is called the Compiler. This lets you paste in a brain dump of ideas—like a brainstorm list—and then with the click of a button, the compiler turns the brain dump into a bulleted list of tasks that need to be completed. Of course, you can fine-tune and edit these as well. This can be really helpful for students who might be overwhelmed at the beginning of a large project.

Sometimes, students have difficulty simply accessing the information they’ve collected, and accessing content is one of the first steps in being able to organize and manage it. If you can’t read it, for example, you can’t make sense of the content that’s in the resource.

Fortunately, there are some really powerful tools to help out in those instances. Speechify is one example. It’s a great tool that converts text to speech for students who struggle with reading. Otter does the opposite. It converts recorded speech into text. This can be really helpful for students who prefer to initially capture their thoughts using an audio recorder.

There are also lots of translation tools available for students who are accessing content that is not written in their primary language. Google Translate is probably the most popular one, and now generative AI apps like Google Gemini and ChatGPT can also be used to translate text. These tools are making a significant difference for students and adults who struggle to decode or access text-based content.

Both Google and Microsoft are beginning to integrate AI assistants directly into their production tools. For instance, Google Bard has an extension that connects a user’s Gmail, Drive, and Docs together. With one search box, you can ask the integrated AI to answer questions or find resources located in any of these file locations. Microsoft is developing their Copilot, which works in a similar way.

In some respects, these tools could be perceived as simply encouraging users to be less organized since they can access content from any space in that production suite ecosystem. While this is a fair argument, it may also be changing the way we define organization. After all, organization is largely about making sense of the materials we have available to us and being able to access what we need, when we need it. Time will tell how this evolves, but there is value in teaching students how to use these features and tools as a way to access the content available to them.

As AI tools continue to advance even further, so will the concept of what it means to be organized. It will still be of importance for our students to develop the skills necessary for using the tools available to them in meaningful ways. While the recommendations offered here are a starting point, it’s important that we all continue to explore on our own and share the best ideas we find. The AI landscape suggests that we will need to continue developing and changing the way we do things, and that certainly includes organization.

AVID Connections

This resource connects with the following components of the AVID College and Career Readiness Framework:

  • Instruction
  • Rigorous Academic Preparedness
  • Student Agency

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