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Could Artificial Intelligence play a role in education?

Director of Studies at London Park School Clapham, Adele Crabtree, discusses the potential impact and role of Artificial Intelligence in the future of education.

Over the holidays I was introduced to Chat GPT by my teenage son. It is an artificial intelligence website that has been developed with the backing of some big hitters in tech such as Microsoft and Elon Musk. It currently mines the whole of the World Wide Web up to 2021, but later this year it will update and grow significantly mining up to 2023.

It has blown my mind, filled me with excitement and at the same time, filled me with concern for education. Here is why.

The potential of AI in education is vast, with the ability to revolutionise the way students learn and teachers teach. However, as with any new technology, there are pros and cons to consider.

One of the biggest pros of AI in education is its ability to personalise learning. AI can analyse data on a student’s learning style, strengths, and weaknesses, and tailor instruction to meet their specific needs. This can lead to a more efficient and effective learning experience, with students able to progress at their own pace and focus on areas in which they need the most help.

Another pro is the ability of AI to scale education, making it more accessible to more people. For example, AI-powered virtual tutors can provide one-on-one instruction to students in remote or underserved areas, where access to qualified teachers is limited.

Furthermore, AI can also help in automating some of the teacher’s tasks and can help them to focus on the more important task of teaching.

However, there are also some cons to consider when it comes to AI in education. One concern is the potential for bias in the algorithms used to personalise learning. If the data used to train the AI is biased, the AI’s recommendations may also be biased, leading to unequal opportunities for certain groups of students.

Another concern is the potential for AI to replace human teachers. While AI can certainly augment the teaching process, it cannot replace the human connection and emotional support that teachers provide to students. Furthermore, AI-based learning systems may not be able to adapt to the unique learning styles of some students.

In addition, there are also concerns about academic integrity. With the increasing use of AI in education, there is a risk that students may be able to cheat more easily using AI-powered tools. For example, students may use AI to write essays or complete assignments, and teachers may have difficulty identifying plagiarism.

In conclusion, while the potential of AI in education is enormous, it is important to consider the potential downsides and to develop strategies to mitigate these risks. Education administrators, policymakers and educators should work together to ensure that AI is used in an ethical and responsible manner that benefits all students, regardless of their background or abilities. Additionally, it is also important to continuously monitor and update the AI systems to ensure that it is not biased and that academic integrity is maintained.

Oh, and finally I should fully disclose that, excluding my introductory paragraph, this article was written for me by AI in less than 30 seconds!

It is a brave new world out there and we must all embrace it and adapt for our pupils. However, anyone thinking ‘that’s it – job done – no more essays or homework’, remember – teachers CAN tell the difference between your voice and that of Chat GPT – it is not that clever (yet…)!

24 January 2023