AI in school – there’s no stopping it, and we need to get ahead of the curve and prepare our children for the future of education.
The days of going to the library to photocopy a few pages from an encyclopaedia for a school project are long gone. We live in a world where the internet is their primary source of information, education, and entertainment as new generations of youngsters grow up with technology at their fingertips.
Kids and teenagers are gravitating to AI technology such as ChatGPT, but what does this mean for schoolwork? One thing is certain: artificial intelligence is here to stay.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and act like humans. The phrase can also refer to any machine that demonstrates human-like characteristics such as learning and problem-solving.
The ability of artificial intelligence to rationalise and execute actions that have the best likelihood of reaching a certain goal is its ideal feature.
AI: How It Is Used Today
AI is widely employed in a variety of applications today, with varied degrees of sophistication. Popular AI implementations include recommendation algorithms that suggest what you might like next, as well as chatbots that appear on websites or in the form of smart speakers (e.g., Alexa or Siri).
AI is used to produce weather and financial forecasting forecasts, expedite production processes, and reduce various sorts of duplicate cognitive labour (e.g., tax accounting or editing).
AI is also utilised to play games, drive self-driving cars, comprehend language, and much, much more.
AI in School
As the new AI technology makes its way into the lives of K-12 and college students across the United States, some schools have banned it. It has made headlines for its humanlike and one-of-a-kind responses to queries, raising concerns among some instructors about cheating and a loss of critical thinking abilities.
It is not uncommon for youngsters and young adults to be technologically ahead of adults in their life.
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The text-generating bot ChatGPT, developed by Open AI, has swiftly frightened and enthralled people who have tested it to discover what it is capable of.
Do you need “The Star-Spangled Banner” written in the Broadway show Hamilton’s style? Alternatively, a 500-word college essay outlining the reasons a senior in high school would want to attend the University of Pennsylvania? In 30 seconds or less, ChatGPT can create very amazing copies of either. A brand new world has emerged.
Within days of the bot’s release, some proclaimed the college essay “dead” and questioned the future of education in light of the fact that students could access ChatGPT, a writing tool that has been compared to a calculator, and rely on it to do their homework assignments.
According to The New York Times, ChatGPT has already been completely banned from student use in the public school systems of Seattle and New York.
How AI in School Can Help Students
The notion of “cheating” is not often as clear as we may assume, according to Jonathan Meer, Ph.D., professor and head of undergraduate programmes in economics at Texas A&M. Academic dishonesty has been a major concern surrounding ChatGPT.
As part of his research into the economics of education, Dr Meer has been closely following the progress of ChatGPT. He has already observed a student attempting to use the bot to accomplish his weekly economics homework, which he deemed to be an inappropriate use of the instrument.
He acknowledges that some students might be able to use the technology effectively with the support and direction of their professors.
1. AI as a complement or a substitute to students’ work
Where is the line between using GPT, having Grammarly loaded on your computer, having a friend check over your work and offer ideas, and coming to the writing centre where a tutor may show you how to rearrange a paragraph? There isn’t a clear-cut rule here; it actually depends on the circumstances.
Dr Meer, who is the father of two school-age children, believes that ChatGPT and similar products can have varying educational implications depending on the stage of a child’s development.
“You can’t let a third grader use this when they are learning to write an essay,” he says. “Can a PhD student use it to write a paper? I don’t see why not.”
Dr Meer claims that ChatGPT can be used to supplement or replace student work, and that teachers will need to think outside the box when it comes to how they set up their assignments now that they are aware of its existence.
“It does mean more work for instructors, which is a problem. It’s rethinking things,” he says.
2. AI as an opportunity for parents and children to “openly critique” technology
Joel Samuels, J.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina, believes the introduction of technologies like ChatGPT provides an opportunity for educators and parents to debate and “openly critique” technology like this and its effects on our children.
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Gilbert also sees ChatGPT as an opportunity for parents to talk to their children about what matters and the fundamental purpose of school.
“As parents, we need to teach them about the morality of it and the consequences that arise when they are not analytical thinkers. We do not want to end up mirroring the humans in Wall-E,” she says.
“Recently, I had to have a frank conversation with my middle-school-aged son, who is lightyears more advanced in the realm of technology than I am. He wanted to use ChatGPT to draft a speech. Being open about integrity, academic or otherwise, is important in developing character for our children.”
Whether we like it or not, Gilbert continues “It is here to stay and it will only become better with time.”
So what’s the verdict? “Teach children about honesty and consequences and how to use it responsibly.”
GPT: Parent’s Concerns
Parents may be concerned about their children’s use of technology and how it will affect them, particularly when it comes to new breakthroughs that are not widely understood.
Some parents, like educators and school authorities, are concerned about the cheating threat posed by ChatGPT.
“There are a lot of legitimate concerns that parents should have regarding ChatGPT the most obvious is cheating,” said Albert, the director at the Teshinsky Family Foundation in California.
The company that developed ChatGPT, OpenAI, previously stated in a statement that it is working with schools to resolve these concerns.
Time spent on using AI
Another potential issue is how much time children spend on ChatGPT. According to a Common Sense Media research done last year, tweens and teens’ daily screen use increased by 17% between 2019 and 2021.
Given that many individuals are still learning about AI technology, one of the most common concerns may be a fear of the unknown.
What Artificial Intelligence Technology Means for Education
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So, what now? Will AI technologies like ChatGPT have an impact on the future of education, and if so, how? Educators claim AI will alter education, but it’s unclear how.
“We have to learn to use it, because it’s not going away,” Lillian Gilbert, an AP English teacher at Jupiter High School in Jupiter, Florida, says.
“I do not see ChatGPT as ‘evil.’ It’s inevitable. I remember when I had to go to the library and use books for research, but now, I can Google the info on my computer. Or when I used a beeper before the cell phone. The world is evolving.”
Furthermore, as society and technology evolve and change, children and adults will continue to learn in unique ways. To help our children and students develop critical thinking abilities, we must learn to adapt and be imaginative, just like we did during the pandemic.
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