AI as a Student’s Personal Tutor

Discover how AI can be leveraged as a personal tutor for every student.

Grades K-12 9 min Resource by:
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As educators know, one-to-one tutoring can be incredibly powerful. Personalized instruction can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a student with immediate feedback and encouragement from the teacher. From customizing assessments to adapting to different learning styles, tutoring allows for a level of individualized attention that can help students reach their full potential.

The benefits of tutoring are supported by a 2021 study—as part of the EdResearch Recovery Project from Annenberg Institute at Brown University and Results for America—which found that “high-dosage tutoring can produce large learning gains for a wide range of students, including those who have fallen behind academically.” Additional research cited in the study supported tutoring as the most effective intervention, with students achieving an additional three to 15 months of learning on average compared to other interventions, such as feedback and progress monitoring, cooperative learning, computer-assisted instruction, and mentoring.

Despite these benefits, time constraints and large class sizes have made it difficult to implement large-scale tutoring programs. This is where generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, Microsoft Bing Chat, and Google Bard, come in. With the rapid advancement of AI technology, it is now possible to create virtual tutoring assistants that can help students learn at their own pace and provide personalized feedback. This means that every student can receive the benefits of tutoring without adding significant costs, additional staff, or further burdens on already busy schedules.

Transforming Teaching and Learning

Potentially transformational AI tools are already opening up exciting new opportunities for personalized learning and tutoring. Because artificial intelligence chatbots can perform tasks 100,000 times faster than the human brain, they are providing avenues for teachers to make time-consuming tasks more efficient. These programs are built on immense data sets that allow generative AI systems to synthesize and give users access to unprecedented amounts of data in seconds.

Chatbots can also speak with us in conversational language or even in multiple languages. This is a game-changer because it removes communication barriers that have often prevented students from getting the help they need. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology similarly points out that these new ways of interacting with technology may make it much more accessible and useful by eliminating communication and skill barriers. The department predicts that in the future, students may be able to input content through speech, drawings, video, and even images. This evolution of inputs would provide powerful multimodal ways for student to communicate their thoughts.

Perhaps most importantly, AI tutors have the potential of being offered individually to every student in our classrooms. In essence, each student can have a personal tutor—something that was previously impossible in a classroom of one teacher and 30 or more students. This democratization of access to personal tutoring has the potential to transform the learning in our classrooms.

Transformational Change Is Close

According to an April 2023 CNBC article, Bill Gates, philanthropist and cofounder of Microsoft, predicts that AI will transform tutoring in the next 18 months. He also believes that AI tools can help reduce the opportunity gap around students receiving individual tutoring.

While some AI tutors may still come with subscription costs, Gates shared in the CNBC article his belief that these AI tutors will be more affordable and accessible than current tutoring as we know it. He suggested, “This should be a leveler. Because having access to a tutor is too expensive for most students—especially having that tutor adapt and remember everything that you’ve done and look across your entire body of work.”

Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, agrees. He says, in his 2023 TED Talk, “I think we’re at the cusp of using AI for probably the biggest positive transformation that education has ever seen, and the way we’re going to do that is by giving every student on the planet an artificially intelligent but amazing personal tutor, and we’re going to give every teacher on the planet an amazing artificially intelligent teaching assistant.”

A personal tutor for every student would be transformational.


Khan Academy is currently working with OpenAI to develop Khanmigo, a personal tutoring platform that is being integrated into Khan Academy resources.

The Khan Academy website describes this exciting new product as “a new experimental artificial intelligence (AI) guide.” It continues, “. . . Khanmigo aims to mimic one-on-one tutoring experiences by providing tailored support, prompting critical thinking, and suggesting relevant resources” and “serve as an assistant that helps with administrative tasks to save time.”

In other words, Khanmigo has the potential to transform the student support and tutoring model in our schools. Through its integration of AI, Khanmigo appears to address the growing need that schools have for scalable one-to-one tutoring support while simultaneously removing some of the largest barriers schools face: financial costs, limited time, and staffing shortages.

How You Can Start Right Now?

There are a number of ways you can get started using AI as a student tutor in your classroom. Here are a few to consider:

  • Khanmigo: This requires you to sign up and pay $20 per month to join the pilot phase, but it will give you a powerful tool to try out with your students.
  • The Big Three Chatbots: If your students are allowed to access one of the big three chatbots—ChatGPT, Microsoft Bing, or Google Bard—these are convenient places to begin. Once you set up expectations for use with your students, you might consider allowing them to ask the chatbot questions as they work. Essentially, this would work like a virtual tutor in your classroom. They might ask the chatbot for help generating topic ideas, for suggestions about where to begin with writing a persuasive paper, or for advice in designing a presentation. However you encourage students to use these tools for support, you’ll want to be sure students understand that content must be vetted and verified before it is used in school assignments. These chatbots can be especially helpful for students who need content translated or rewritten in simpler language.
  • Merlin ChatGPT Assistant for All Websites: If your students are 13 or older, they can install the Merlin ChatGPT assistant in their Google Chrome web browser. This app essentially integrates ChatGPT into all webpages. When students conduct a search, Merlin provides a summary to the side of the website lists. It can also be used to summarize a webpage. Access it on any website by typing in Cmd + M or Ctrl + M.
  • Explore Lists of AI Tools: New AI tools are being released nearly every day, and it can be hard to keep up. For that reason, it can be really helpful to review curated lists of recommended tools. This can save you time and give you a quick introduction to a wide variety of options. One such source is Matt Miller at Ditch That Textbook. You might want to explore his AI page, which features AI tools for the classroom. Skim the list and find one that makes sense for you to begin using in your classroom as a way to provide students with individualized support.

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