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5 Free AI Tools To Make Your Classroom More Accessible

In an ideal world, “Inclusion” would be the very air that every education system ate, slept, and breathed. To be fair, the the concept of Inclusion is hardly a new one in the world of academia — and indeed, remarkable applications of this same fundamental principle can actually be found in everything from Special Education Services to Universal Design for Learning and the Montessori Method of instruction. But as the topic of Artificial Intelligence seems to be dominating so much of the edu-speak landscape of 2023, it seems like schools need to be especially aware of how we can harness these new technologies to meet the very real and very human needs of all the learners that we serve.

Simply stated: an inclusive approach to education effectively means that our classrooms should not create unnecessary barriers to students who might learn information best by way of a method that is different than the standard “sit and get” approach that has fueled so much of the traditional education system for generations. 

Here at EMC² Learning, we specialize in creating student-centered, feedback focused, engagement strategies designed to help busy teachers craft meaningful, memorable lesson plans that their students simply can’t wait to enjoy. And while we get a well-deserved rap for being “the gamification guys” (which is a badge of honor that we wear proudly!), it turns out there’s a whole lot more to student engagement than mere fun and games. Designing resources and lesson plan activities that inspire students’ curiosity, excitement, and wonder is actually very much a full time job — rooted in some serious science and more than a few trips into instructional strategies that owe their origins to the continued efforts of pioneers in the fields of Special Education, UDL, and alternative methods of instruction. And while we can happily wax philosophical on education philosophy from such notable scholars as Piaget, Dewey and Dweck or namedrop a whole parade of findings from our favorite researchers in the fields of Neuroplasticity, Positive Psychology, and Flow State… those are, perhaps, stories best saved for another blog post altogether.

Because today’s post is all about how 21st Century educators can couple these beloved and time-tested best practices in the field of student engagement with a battery of bleeding edge Artificial Intelligence tools to create even more inclusive classrooms than ever before. As we often say around these parts, our goal is to help foster “Engagement at the Speed of Life.” And fusing very real, human-centered instructional design with the transformational power of Artificial Intelligence is a fantastic way to do just that. What you’ll see below is sort of a peek behind the proverbial curtains of how the EMC² Learning team approaches so much of our very own resource creation and design process in order to create resources that today’s students from all backgrounds and walks of life will absolutely love. And the best part is: they’re all free!

Here are five game-changing AI tools that you can start using in your classroom RIGHT AWAY (along with a collection of sample lesson plan suggestions to help you hit the ground running with each):

Tool #1: YouTube Summary With ChatGPT Makes Videos

YouTube videos have become a staple of classrooms everywhere for the better part of the last two decades — virtually replacing the one-size-fits-all “movie day” DVD and VHS cassette screenings of yesteryear. The only problem? Different students learn in different ways on different days. And there is absolutely nothing worse than popping on a lengthy YouTube video that’s chock full of some really great information only to see it interrupted by any number of the everyday noises that tend to make their way into just about every classroom in the world at precisely the wrong time. Some of the most common examples in this less-than-desirable field include:

  • A locker slamming in the hallway just at that precise moment where a movie is spelling out a key piece of information (“But perhaps the most important key to George Washington’s success in turning the tide of the American Revolution came in the winter of 1776 when… SLAMBANGCRASH!!!”

  • A student coughing, sneezing, or making some other unexpected noise that completely drowns out an important piece of dialogue (“To be or not to be?! That is the COUGHCOUGHCOUGH…”)

  • The unexpected buzz of an announcement over the intercom or class telephone system, which completely destroys that feeling of being “in the moment” while watching a scene that’s supposed to have our students on the edge of their seat (“Norman Bates’ mother has been dead and buried in Green Lawn Cemetery for… ATTENTION STUDENTS: CLASS ELECTIONS WILL TAKE PLACE DURING TODAY’S HOMEROOM PERIOD”)
What’s a busy teacher to do?

Enter the YouTube Summary With ChatGPT extension for Google Chrome. With the push of a button, you’ve now got instantly accessible (and super thorough video timestamps) for any YouTube video you can think of — broken down into summaries divided into easy to navigate minute-by-minute chunks. Now, you can watch the video straight through OR read the summary of its key points. And finding your way back to just that right part of the video has never been easier: all you have to do is click the corresponding timestamp and the video will automatically jump right back to that spot in the playback.

Tip #2: Snipd Will Transcribe Your Podcasts

Podcasts are a fantastic way to create a more inclusive classroom for students who’d prefer to get their information by way of a recording. In fact, The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is based on three key principles (Representation, Action & Expression, and Engagement) — and recommends offering information in more than one format. While textbooks are primarily visual, classrooms can become infinitely more accessible when teachers offer a combination of text, audio, video and hands-on learning opportunities to give all kids a chance to access the material in whichever way is best suited to their learning strengths.

Unfortunately, while brining audio alternatives to the classroom can be a fantastic way for teachers to broaden the appeal of their lesson plans — transcribing an entire podcast by hand can be a pretty time consuming task, to say the least. Thankfully, AI powered tools like Snipd are here to help… and they are totally FREE! Now, getting a timestamped breakdown of your favorite podcast can be automatically created for you in a matter of minutes using the free features available on the Snipd app. And it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Step 1. Head to the app store and download the “Snipd” app

Step 2. Find the name of the podcast show or episode that you’d like to have transcribed

Step 3. Click the “OK” button to submit your request. And 15-30 minutes later, PRESTO! You’ve got a brand new podcast breakdown with easy to use timestamps to accompany the audio recording.

Tip #3: OpenAI Is An Excellent Alternative to NewsELA

Newsela is an online platform that provides students and teachers with access to high-level news articles and other resources to help them develop their reading and writing skills. The platform is designed to be used in the classroom and can be used to teach a variety of topics, and their database houses thousands of articles on all sorts of topics ranging from current events to timeless stories about history and science.


Thanks to the incredible power of artificial intelligence, educators no longer have to wait around for the latest breaking news story to be added to the Newsela archives. With the simple push of a button, ChatGPT can help teachers create scaffolded, age-appropriate reading assignments using quite literally ANY piece of headline news or content-related information that comes there way. The workflow really is as easy as 1-2-3.

Step 1.
Grab an article from the internet that relates to your course content. We found this story titled “Pope Francis says laws criminalising LGBT people are a ‘sin’ and an injustice” written by Philip Pullella on February 6, 2023 that we snagged off of the Reuters news wire.

Step 2.
Head on over to ChatGPT and feed the link to the article into the prompt box. Ask ChatGPT to summarize the article.

Step 3.
Once the bot has hammered out its first draft, feel free to push the machine’s thinking even a bit further by asking it to provide additional clarity and depth (as shown in the photo above this section). Specifically after receiving our initial summary of the article (which was a pretty dense paragraph full of vocab words that might have seemed daunting to younger readers) — we asked ChatGPT “
Now provide a more detailed three paragraph summary of this same article that is written for a high school student who reads at a 4th grade level.

The results were really impressive!

But now for the best part…

Step 4.
Decades of educational research has made it abundantly clear that the single most effective way to teach students new vocabulary terms is to embed these words directly into the context of the things that they are learning about in class. And so why not let artificial intelligence do some of the heavy lifting for you? In the example above, we asked ChatGPT to “identify five vocab words from the original article that would be good for students to know” and to make sure to “provide definitions for each one.”

VOILA! With no more than a few quick keystrokes and a cut/paste of your favorite story ripped from the headlines, you’ve got an instantly scaffolded lesson plan for any course or content area — all in less than two minutes worth of teacher prep.

Tip #4: A One-Two Punch from Midjourney and D-ID

All credit for this imaginative tag team of AI brilliance actually comes to us from Mr. Bryant Barker, a middle school English teacher from Bentonville, Arkansas who also just so happens to be an Engagement Engineer here at EMC² Learning. Mr. Barker has been a longtime member of EMC² Learning, and his passion for creative instructional design is only matched by his boundless curiosity and willingness to dream up all kinds of fun ways to create playful, purposeful lessons for his students to enjoy. Check out the video above, where he showcases the finished product of an artificial intelligence one-two punch that he created using Midjourney (which creates fantastic, immersive worlds and highly detailed character artwork using nothing more than a simple text prompt as provided by the user) and D-ID (which transforms everyday pictures into animated videos, as shown above).

Talk about accessibility!

Just take a look at that video. What once might have been a standard affair of a teacher explaining a generic unit introduction and overview now immediately becomes the starting point for what feels like the invitation to join into a living, breathing, honest-to-goodness ADVENTURE thanks to a clever splash of AI integration. How much more excited will students be to begin this new leg of their journey thanks to this clever bit of storytelling magic before the unit even begins?!

(Full disclaimer: Both Midjourney and D-ID are available in sort of a “freemium” model, which is to say that they offer either a limited number of generations or a limited time trial period where you have the chance to take their features for a spin. The good news is that there are plenty of full-on freebie alternative sites out there if you are serious about playing with AI artwork and video. As of this writing, Dall-E 2, for example, is completely free as long as you keep below the threshold of 40 different image pack generations in a single month’s time.)

Tip #5: Dall-E Makes Word Problems Come Alive

Let’s stick with the lens of UDL for this final example — because one of the most vital ways to spark student engagement comes from finding a way to merge your course content into things that your learners already love.

Are you teaching word problems in a math class or trying to help your students find even a hint of excitement in their everyday review activities as you prepare for standardized tests? While teachers of the humanities typically have a bit more leeway when it comes to incorporating creative storytelling and lesson inspiration drawn from real-life history and epic works of fiction, there is no reason why our esteemed colleagues in the world of math and science should have to find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to crafting creative problems that an entire class simply can’t wait to solve.

Here’s an awesome way to make any class spring to life, using a clever bit of AI razzle dazzle involving ChatGPT (which generates all sorts of written works in response to whatever human prompt you might enter) and Dall-E 2 (which generates images based on whatever prompts you can think of and write in plain, everyday English).

Step 1.
Head to ChatGPT. Ask the site to write a problem related to your course content, like so…

Step 2.
Now that you’ve gotten the hang of how to use the chatbot, ask it to throw in a splash of something that you know your students are already excited about. Don’t be afraid to cash in on what’s trending with your students! This can be such a powerful way to help them see “real world” relevance in your course content.

So let’s pretend, for example, you’re a middle- or early high school teacher whose students can’t stop talking about scoring a ticket to a Taylor Swift concert or the Superbowl. And just for kicks, we’ll pretend that your classes have a soft spot for zombie movies (hey, who doesn’t!?).

Step 3.
And here comes the fun part! Since ChatGPT is programmed to be able to continue the conversation by responding to actual, human speech — you can use this opportunity to push the chatbot’s robo “thinking” even further. That means the more specific you get in your line of questioning, the more detailed (and ridiculous!) your final result will be each time you feed the algorithm additional information to help it generate its response.

Check out this revised version of THE. EXACT. SAME. PROBLEM. that we were able to churn out with just a single follow up question thanks to ChatGPT! 

Step 4.
Head on over to Dall-E and feed it a description of the photo that you’d like to see come to life to help put the finishing touches on your wacky and wildly engaging masterpiece of a word problem. The site will automatically generate a collection of up to 4 different variations of AI artwork for each request that you make — so don’t be afraid to have some fun with it and experiment as you go until you settle on just the right image for you!

Here’s the end result of what we came up with inspired by the prompt above – which we dropped into a Google Slides presentation. 

As we hope you can see from the examples above, there is SO. MUCH. POTENTIAL. to be had to create classrooms that are more innovative, inclusive, and engaging when we combine the power of authentically student-centered instruction with next generation artificial intelligence.

And EMC² Learning is proud to be here to help you at every step along the way!

EMC² Learning is home to more than 500 fully editable resources for any course or content area. Engagement Engineers and members of the Creative Corps enjoy a full year of access to each of these resources on demand. We hope you’ll consider joining us to unlock a full year of site access. For complete details including our exclusive limited time offer for annual site membership, click here.

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1-8 Teacher

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