Warning! The following blog was written by Artificial Intelligence*
*Actually, only part of this article has been created using ChatGPT, an app developed by OpenAI, designed to respond to text-based queries and generate natural language responses. I started the blog by asking ChatGPT how Artificial Intelligence (AI) might impact positively on education and help teachers to work on a more developmental level with students. Can you work out which paragraphs have been left as originally produced by the bot? There are 3 of them and I’ll reveal all at the end!
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionise the way we learn and teach, bringing about significant positive impacts on education. However, as AI becomes increasingly integrated into the classroom, it may also pose dilemmas for teachers trying to differentiate between real student work and that produced by machine learning.
One of the most significant ways AI can benefit education is through personalised learning. With AI, teachers can gather and analyse data on each student’s learning style, strengths, and weaknesses, allowing them to tailor their teaching to meet individual needs. Moreover, AI can also help teachers save time on repetitive tasks such as grading assignments, leaving them with more time to focus on teaching and interacting with students.
This is not a new concept and the use of AI assistants is already widespread to help with answering simple, repetitive questions or by marking multiple choice assessments etc., all of which ‘allows teachers to dedicate their saved time to higher-value work’ (Goel & Polepeddi, 2016). However, additionally, AI can help teachers to identify struggling students by analysing data over time, finding patterns and areas of weakness. This information can then be used to help teachers to meet each student’s unique needs, improving overall performance. Currently in most schools, this work is still relatively time intensive for teachers and administrators, and requires grades and other data to be input manually once papers have been marked (also manually).
So, in theory, by moving to AI, increased efficiency can lead to a more productive and fulfilling teaching experience. Beyond the purely mechanical processes of grading and storing data, it can also help teachers to create more effective and efficient learning materials that are tailored to each student’s learning style and pace. One such tool is Education Copilot which enables teachers to ‘generate lesson plans & other educational materials in seconds’. As with other industries, then, AI can take some of the grind out of the day-to-day nature of teachers’ work and give them back time and energy to be spent on the individual learning needs of the students. Furthermore, it also has the potential to help students to stay motivated to continue learning by delivering more immediate feedback that allows them to identify areas of improvement in the moment.
However, as AI becomes more prevalent in education, it may also pose dilemmas for teachers. One of the most significant concerns is how to differentiate between real student work and that produced by machine learning. AI-powered tools can generate high-quality essays, reports, and other assignments, making it difficult for teachers to distinguish between authentic student work and that produced by machines.
This raises concerns about academic integrity and could potentially undermine the value of the work all students produce, with or without AI intervention. Effectively, if students can produce high-quality work without actually putting in the effort, it could lead to a devaluation of education and limit the skills students develop through their studies. Indeed, the Australian education ministry has tried to ban AI from schools altogether, claiming it is essentially cheating.
So far, nothing particularly surprising you might think. However, while the prospects for AI are certainly promising, according to the Seo, K., Tang, J., Roll, I. et al. in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, ‘the impact of AI systems on the culture of, norms in, and expectations about interactions between students and instructors are still elusive’. This is because relationships are at the heart of any learner-teacher interaction and the quality of personal communication and human support that lead to trust and freedom of thought, cannot be replicated by a machine.
In conclusion, AI has the potential to help teachers work on a more human level by reducing the time-consuming elements of their work that do not impact on improving performance. By automating administrative tasks, grading, and providing personalised feedback, AI can help teachers create a more effective and efficient learning environment that benefits both students and teachers. By leveraging the benefits of AI, we can create a more personalised and engaging education system that meets the needs of all students.
No, actually in conclusion, it seems to me that the news about AI is essentially quite good, as long as we can educate students about its use as a tool to enable us to make the most of our humanity in our day-to-day work and interactions. Where it is used as an assistant, it can improve our impact because it can build solid foundations from which detailed analytical and imaginative work can spring. It does not replace this overarchingly creative role for human beings because it can only really gather information, like an electronic magpie; it does not create anything new, as such. This is true not only for the text that Chat GPT produces, but also for the artwork that the image generator Dall-E (also developed by Open AI) creates.
And, in any case, the fight-back from (real) content creators is already beginning. According to Bloomberg Law, nascent legal cases in the US ‘could limit the number of images the tools [like Dall-E] ingest for training, ultimately affecting the content that they produce’. I wrote an assembly recently for the Sixth Form about French philosophy and asked Dall-E for its generous help with creating a picture of a ‘kind French philosopher’. His image now sits at the top of this blog. Is it just me, or does he have a passing resemblance to Johnny Depp?
Goel, A. K., & Polepeddi, L. (2016). Jill Watson: A virtual teaching assistant for online education. Georgia Institute of Technology.
Seo, K., Tang, J., Roll, I. et al. (2021) The impact of artificial intelligence on learner–instructor interaction in online learning. Int J Educ Technol High Educ 18, 54
*Paragraphs 1,2 and 8 were written by Chat GPT