What does the future of education have in store for us all, and how will artificial intelligence change the teaching landscape?
One key goal in teaching is to develop knowledge; to effect a permanent change in knowledge, and help students transfer this information into new scenarios. Artificial intelligence will disrupt classrooms, and we are not yet ready for what has already started …
Many teachers have discovered ChatGTP, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that generates text-based content. This tool enables an individual to pose a question or a statement. The software then responds, and at times, at a great length!
This is brilliant and worrying at the same time!
ChatGTP is an AI–driven platform enabling anyone – students too – to quickly and easily create text-based content.
Watch my simple video demonstration – all I have done is ‘speak’ one sentence! Here are a few other tests:
- Is teaching an art or science?
- What works best, progressive or traditional teaching methods?
- Do Ofsted inspections improve school outcomes?
The tool operates conversationally, allowing the person to respond to the AI scripts, build content, pose questions and, in essence, develop an artistic document.
Click to expand
ChatGTP uses natural language processing and machine learning to generate meaningful and engaging content, enabling people to quickly create assignments, assessments, and other types of content. It’s a brilliant tool for reducing teacher workload, and just as good for students to write assignments quickly!
For teachers, people could use the software to write emails, teaching and learning policies, curriculum plans and even books! Imagine that, no prior knowledge is required. However, some would argue that you need prior knowledge to pose relevant questions and understand if the text regurgitated back to you makes sense.
Asking a computer to produce your material may not improve your memory recall, and reduce your creatactivity.
For example, the following content is generated by Open Chat AI (playground), and not me(!), although I have proofread the material and made small tweaks in places:
- AI-generated content canlack creativity, uniqueness, and emotional appeal due to the lack. lack of human input.
- Quality Issues: AI–generated content is often of lower quality than human–written content and can contain errors or be difficult to understand.
- Unreliable: AI–generated content can be unreliable and inaccurate due to the algorithm used to generate it.
- Cost: AI–generated content is often more expensive than human–written content due to the cost of creating and maintaining the algorithms used to generate it.
- Legal Issues: AI–generated content may be subject to copyright laws and may need special licensing.
(It’s me again now.) We could pick the above and discuss at length the pros and cons of each in all industries, not just teaching. On the latter point of legality, as with most technological evolution, ethics are rarely considered after things are published and trialled. I’m confident that Elon Musk – one of the company’s founders – has its terms and conditions bulletproof, but the implications of how everyone else uses it to create content are unknown.
I have a confession!
I’ve been using artificial intelligence for 12 years, using automated voice software to write blogs, and books, mark student assignments and write teaching and learning policies. How on earth did you think I managed to write ten books and share 3,000 blog posts whilst holding down a full-time school leadership job?
Although the software, Dragon Dictate, learns from your voice commands to become more sophisticated each time you use it, it’s not doing the work for you in terms of writing the material, but it does allow you to work more efficiently.
At least a year ago, I first discovered Playground OpenAI, the parent company (I think for ChatGPT), after a professor posted some assignments ‘written’ by some doctoral students. It raises several ethical questions for education.
The ‘playground’ version of the software has many interesting developments. Whilst I don’t yet understand all the definitions, I can see that you can set the level of AI to respond according to the language difficulty you type/speak and want in return. I’ve played with it many times.
Probably this past blog is one where I have spent less time typing and more time speaking and allowing the software to respond. Interestingly, it was a very popular blog. Like writing a book, the hard work is editing the content to make it comprehensible and personable, checking that it is accurate, especially when references are automatically added.
Academia, ethics and plagiarism
One of my Twitter colleagues, teacher and academic Carl Hendrick, posted a very thoughtful thread on the benefits and risks of AI technology in the classroom. As an English teacher, he experimented with ChatGPT, to see how the software would respond to GCSE and A-level English exam-type questions.
As Hendrick suggests, it is only a matter of time before the software becomes sophisticated and can respond to complex assessment frameworks. He also suggested that plagiarism-checking software would become obsolete.
I believe we will soon have AI software designed to respond to AI-generated software!
There is a huge community of generative AI already emerging. For example, you may see the chat box on this website, which automates a response to your questions. Only last month, I was curious and uploaded 100 photographs of myself to the app, Lensa, for it to return almost 100 accurate AI-generated images of my good self. Take a look!
Century – one of the best edtech companies – is already (genuinely) using AI in the classroom, and has been doing so for years! We are already in a new epoch of technology, and like most of what has happened over the last two decades, it’s moving so fast, most have not yet figured out the ethics and moral dilemmas before launching the product.
Overcome barriers to learning?
Turning to academia, a new paper caught my eye; New Modes of Learning Enabled by AI Chatbots: Three Methods and Assignments (December 2022) – published by the brilliant Ethan Mollick (and Lilach Mollick).
The paper documents how AI could be used to overcome three barriers to learning in the classroom.
- Improving transfer
- Breaking the illusion of explanatory depth and,
- Training students to critically evaluate explanations.
Mollick and Mollick outline how artificial intelligence can help transfer knowledge.
AI is a cheap way to provide students with many examples, some of which may be inaccurate or need further explanation. There is also the risk that students will develop the illusion of learning (explanatory depths). For example, an AI-generated assignment may give the impression that the student/teacher knows the material, but there has been no shift in long-term memory.
Artificial technology in the classroom can potentially transform how teachers work. The challenge for society is to understand how AI will support a four or 16-year-old developing concrete knowledge as part of their development…
The future of education is already here.