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  • Writer's pictureJames Kieft

AI is it a good or a bad thing for educators

Just recently all my social media feeds have contained some reference to AI (Artificial intelligence) and specifically, in relation to education with lots of debate about whether it's a positive or a negative thing. So in this blog post, I will set out my thoughts on AI and education and what are the potential advantage and disadvantages.

Whether we realise it or not most of us engage with some form of AI on a regular basis such as predictive text on our mobile phones or taking advantage of the suggested responses to email messages we've received.

Here are a couple of other examples of where you may have come across AI being used to power certain time-saving features.

  • Suggested answer options for multichoice questions in Microsoft forms

  • Design ideas available in PowerPoint and Microsoft word that provide layout and formatting options

Another example of AI being used is Microsoft's new Designer app that's currently in preview you add an image and select the type of content you are looking to create and it suggests colours, layout, and font choices that will complement the image you have uploaded.

Here is my initial video review of Microsofts Designer.

Among the various social media posts relating to AI, there have been lots of mentions of chat GPT created by Open AI to further their research. The site enables you to ask the AI a question for which it quickly generates responses.

Here is my video using ChatGPT.

And this is the list of pros and cons for educators on using AI produced by ChatGPT

Advantages of AI for educators include:

  • Personalization: AI can provide personalized learning experiences for students, tailoring content and instruction to their individual needs and abilities.

  • Efficiency: AI can help educators automate repetitive tasks such as grading and assessment, freeing up more time for instruction and student interaction.

  • Data analysis: AI can help educators analyze large amounts of data from student performance, providing insights into areas of strengths and weaknesses and helping to inform instruction.

  • Accessibility: AI-powered tools and resources can make education more accessible to students with disabilities or those in remote or underserved areas.

Disadvantages of AI for educators include:

  • Cost: Implementing AI-powered tools and resources can be expensive for schools and districts.

  • Lack of human interaction: AI-powered learning experiences may lack the personalization and human interaction that is essential for effective education.

  • Bias: AI systems are only as unbiased as the data they are trained on, which can perpetuate existing biases and discrimination.

  • Job loss: AI-powered automation could lead to job loss for educators.

As this is a research tool they set out examples of how it could be helpful, the capabilities of the tool, and its current limitations. As part of writing this blog, I thought I would ask it to suggest some of the advantages that AI has in Education and this is what it came back to me with.

I've only just started to notice AI products being created specifically marketed for teachers. Tools like CoPilot offer to help teachers to create a variety of documentation and resources including:

  • Education handout

  • Lesson planner

  • Quiz Builder

  • PowerPoint generator

To mention just a few. I think we've all been there staring at a blank presentation on a Sunday night thinking about how are we going to structure the next day's lesson. So is there anything wrong with getting a bit of a helping hand.

I think as long as the teacher is aware of the potential shortcomings of AI, it that is only as good as the person or parameter it has been programmed with. And they see it as a starter for ten that edit and amend to ensure that they verify the information included, and check it's been chunked appropriately for the level of students, then I don't see there being any issue.

So far I have focused on the advantages of AI use in education, however, I think it is worth considering what are the disadvantages. I think the main one that has been jumped on a lot already is could AI tools be used by students to create essays and reports thus enabling them to submit original work but not authored by them. Plagiarism detection companies have been quick to announce that they are working on AI detection as part of their software, however, as AI-generated text becomes more sophisticated this will become ever more of a challenge.

Since the introduction of the internet, I could think we could argue that there's always been an opportunity for students who want to cheat to do so. In most cases, we mitigate against this by not relying on a written piece of text as the sole source of summative assessment

Instead, we use a variety of different methods to check our understanding, such as video discussion using apps such as Flip. Classroom-based interactions with our students also enable us to see if there is a discrepancy between their spoken and written words.

When it comes to students and the use of AI, I think we would be wrong to block it or ban it instead, we should provide them with guidance on the appropriate way to use it, make them aware of the potential shortfalls.

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