Well, it’s happening. New York Public schools were first out of the gates by banning artificial intelligence in education, in the form of ChatGPT; sadly predictable, but we are where we are.
It’s with mild curiosity that on reflection of almost every educationally driven conference I’ve attended in recent years, educationalists have argued for, against, and warned of the looming dangers and possibilities of artificial intelligence. Whether for or against, there was an acceptance that it was arriving. Artificial Intelligence, as defined by Aghion, Jones and Jones (2017), as the “intelligence exhibited by machines” along with robotics, and augmented and virtual reality, have seemed imminent to most and now turned into existence by the launch of ChatGPT. However, many educators seem stunned by the emergence of a tool they have been expecting and keynoting about.
Schools may and will resist incorporating artificial intelligence in education for sadly obvious reasons (cheating will be the likely reason given). Schools have historically been painfully slow to adopt new technologies (despite what’s said on the conference circuit) and have struggled to regulate their usage. One needs to look no further than the war some are still fighting (though the horse bolted a long time ago) in managing (rather than proper usage of) mobile phones in the classroom.
The hesitancy in moving with fluidity with ChatGPT and the forthcoming failure to adopt other technologies, such as A.I., could pose new challenges and be the theme of 2023. Failure to harness A.I.’s capabilities and continue to wrap our students in the proverbial cotton wool in response to new technology will do learners no favours in a world that have now seen its power and usage. As the technology evolves, the likes of ChatGPT will only get more thorough and professional as it develops, and we are, without a doubt, still in the playful age of this technology, enamoured by its newness.
Indeed why would we not harness the ability to help solve complex problems and save on computation time? We need more than is being given by the likes of the New York Public School system. Aghion, Jones and Jones (2017) say that with A.I., they are confident that the knowledge generated will give rise to increasing returns and the growth of new ideas. Though, they cite that we need to be careful of what Cobb-Douglas calls “singularity”.
The Harvard “Youth and A.I.” report claims that A.I. will also improve the chances of youth from regions where high school education is limited, allowing for learning at scale, democratizing access, and providing diverse learning opportunities. We already see the benefits for low-income students of AI-driven online courses and experiences and the power of automated translations to embrace foreign language sources helping de-regionalize content for students solely offered texts and sources in their native tongue.
Next, we need a growing consensus on the benefits of using A.I. in education; however, jumping head first into plagiarism and cheating seems to be an ostrich “head-in-the-sand” approach; what about consideration given to students with dyslexia (Harvard, Youth and A.I. Report) or those that might need a personalized learning approach. A.I. is already doing much of this within the healthcare system (diagnostic tools, therapeutic chatbots and public health interventions). A more open and fluid debate will help understand the threats of a more standardized and mechanized approach to education which A.I.’s critics cite, not that mass standardization is not an issue now (face-palm, and a silent exclamation of despair).
Despite these challenges of artificial intelligence in education, some educational institutions will move forward, embrace new A.I. technology, and become leaders in helping learners embrace it, aiding children to learn about it and with it, and in the process, expanding their future-ready skills.
In the forthcoming school’s foundation, THINK Learning Studio is building with other project-based orientated schools; there is the proposition that a first step could be a pilot program in this new A.I. technology in a limited number of PBL or place-based experiences.
This can help our schools assess the benefits and challenges of using A.I. and make informed decisions about its adoption and usage within the curriculum. Within this approach, we would involve teachers and other stakeholders in the decision-making process and provide training and support to ensure they feel comfortable using A.I. in their classrooms, creating a best-practices approach document or template on A.I. within the school.
Finally, our foundation of schools can consider forming partnerships with organizations with A.I. expertise (much of what our TGS PBL structure allows), such as universities or technology businesses, to help them steer the challenges of integrating A.I. into their classrooms.