The new school year is underway, and much is being made in the worldwide media about the impact that Artificial Intelligence is having on education and how schools should strategise its usage.
As in all new impacts in education, it is a fiercely debated area, with many concerned that the use of AI is now commonplace to such an extent that even Primary school teachers are using AI detection software on students’ homework!
Firstly, let us understand exactly what AI – Artificial Intelligence – is. In very straightforward terms, it is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines; in most cases, those machines being computer systems.
AI works, in simple terms, by taking in large amounts of data, analysing the data for patterns and similarities, and using these patterns to make predictions. AI is developing at an accelerating rate, and this is how AI now generates realistic texts, images, etc.
The use of Artificial Intelligence has become mainstream very quickly. It is already changing every aspect of everyday life, whether we realise this or not. AI can undeniably perform many tasks better than humans, especially in analysing data.
Many educationalists have concerns with regard to its impact in all aspects of learning. Since the release of ChatGPT, for example, AI has become a part of everyone’s educational lives.
Parents and researchers are concerned that students are using AI to obtain and process information without actual learning or studying, merely as a very direct and quick means to an end.
Indeed, it certainly is an area of education that all educationalists, parents, and students need to know more about and be guided in, especially as the UK government’s recent survey shows that over 70% of students over the age of six access and use AI on a daily and weekly basis!
Artificial Intelligence certainly has its advantages for education. It is a truly adaptable and variable tool. AI enables students to learn at their own pace. This is especially evident when children with special educational needs use AI for their learning development.
AI can provide tutoring for students, providing detailed explanations and generating practice questions and problems. The ability of AI to create automated tasks in the form of quizzes, practice tests, etc, allows students to review and test their own recollection of information.
AI is already extremely advanced in the area of language translation, meaning that accurate translations can be accessed all over the world. Of course, AI is also an excellent aid for research.
There are, of course, negative aspects of AI. Many educationalists are concerned that AI will replace teachers and, by doing so, the human touch will be lost. However, it may also allow for more human contact as whilst AI can be used efficiently in some areas of education, particularly mundane, time-consuming ones, like analysing grades across year groups, teachers will then have more time for interacting with their students and providing specific quantitative feedback.
I truly believe that AI is the way forward in education, and that it will transform education. We, as educators, have an important role to play in how this happens. There are, of course, areas of concern, and it is how we join together to navigate these that will transform education into the next millennium.
By Penelope Best,
International Education Consultant