As an educator, staying current in your field requires keeping up with journals and other professional publications. The volume of new research and the constant immersion of new technologies that are potentially valuable for teaching and learning make staying current nearly impossible. Fortunately, new artificial intelligence (AI) tools offer a solution to summarize lengthy, complex articles into concise overviews highlighting just the key points.
AI summarization works by analyzing the full text of an article to understand the central themes, key findings, methodologies, and conclusions. Sophisticated machine learning models such as Anthropic’s Claudie.ai can identify what information is most vital in an article, white paper, or blog. The AI then distills this down to a short summary covering the core content in a fraction of the time required to read the full journal article.
Summarizing tools are already widely used by researchers and academics in STEAM fields to effectively conduct literature reviews. These same technologies can help teachers and administrators stay current and save time. Beyond personal development, being able to share condensed research overviews with students can accelerate learning and keep course content fresh and engaging.
With the right awareness and applications, summary tools can be an effective way to streamline your workload. The fact that many of these tools can work in multiple languages can help educators access materials written in foreign language journals as well.
- Claude.ai – This tool took a 23-page article and summarized it into five multifaceted key points and provided a one paragraph summary at the end. When asked to expand on one of the main points, it was able to provide a solid paragraph on each of the facets of the key point. Overall, it provided a more in-depth summary and background that helps tether the article within a broader context.
- SciSummary.com – This is a dedicated summary tool, although the free version is limited to less than 10K words per month. A premium version is available for a nominal monthly subscription and allows users to summarize multiple papers (up to 25) at once. It can also build abstracts for an article.
- AI Summarizer – The free version is limited to 1,500 words but does seem to do a good job with short web-based articles and blog posts. When asked to review a 700-word selection, it did a good job of summarizing the section. It provides options for a narrative summary, bullet points, or “the best line” from the paper.
- Google Bard – This one requires a bit more work. When asked to summarize an article by providing a URL to the article, Bard offered an initial five-sentence summary. Then when asked to outline the key points in the article and expand on each, it was able to do so, but it did require two additional prompts.
- Sassbook’s AI Summarizer – This tool will summarize up to 6,250 characters, or about two-and-a-half pages, in either a narrative or an “extractive” method in which it will extract key sentences. The paid version will allow up to 20 pages to be summarized. The extractive method could be an efficient way to pull items to use in a presentation from a short article, but it still is presented as a narrative.
- Bing Chat – This tool will summarize articles that are available on the internet or pasted into its interface. It was able to respond effectively to follow up queries to expand on the initial summary.
- Any Summary – A tool specifically designed to summarize a range of document types, including text, audio, and video. It allows for a robust summary in bullet points or a detailed narrative. It also provides options for a tweet, a sarcastic response, and even a song! The song summary looked a lot like a nine-sentence paragraph for the sample article on special education. The tweet options were fairly ready for prime time.
- Gist AI – A Chrome extension that ties to ChatGPT and provides a robust review of a website, YouTube video, or pdf article. When tested, it was a bit slow and hung up my computer. However, it provided the most detailed summary of all of the tools.
Ultimately, AI summaries save precious time while reducing the risk of missing relevant insights. Teachers can then use these summaries to determine which pieces deserve a deeper dive in their quest to enrich instruction. With the right awareness and adoption, AI-powered summarization is poised to enhance the teaching and learning process.