The ban on using AI in classrooms is due to be overturned in 2024. This comes after the development of a national framework guiding teachers on how to use the new technology in schools. The framework, which was developed by the national AI taskforce, was adopted by the federal education minister Jason Clare, who said that technologies like ChatGPT have become similar to the “calculator or the internet”.
And while many in education fear the potential misuse of the technology, if used responsibly AI has the ability to transform learning and improve educational outcomes. While the use of artificial intelligence in schools is not without its challenges, AI-driven technology can enhance the efficiency of teachers, better engage and motivate students, and make education more accessible and inclusive.
Below, we look at the pros and cons of using AI in the classroom and what schools, teachers, and students can do to ensure they’re using AI responsibly and ethically.
How does AI enhance the learning experience?
Artificial intelligence offers innovative ways to enhance learning, teaching, and administrative processes. Some examples of artificial intelligence in education include AI-driven tutoring systems that provide personalised support to students, AI-powered language tools that translate content in real-time, and AI-driven chatbots that can answer student questions instantly.
The Australian Human Rights Commission, which stated that schools should prepare for the use of AI in the classroom and has provided guidelines on how to use the technology ethically, listed 6 potential benefits of using generative AI tools: personalised and interactive learning, fostering creativity and innovation, advanced assessment and feedback, accessible and inclusive education, administrative efficiencies, and data-driven insights.
1. Personalised and interactive learning
AI systems can be used to create personalised learning experiences. For example, Cognii provides students with a virtual learning assistant personalised to their needs. Tools like these are able to analyse student learning patterns and tailor learning experiences, including content, assessments and feedback, to the individual student’s needs and abilities. Personalised learning experiences have the potential to better engage students and improve learning outcomes.
2. Fostering creativity and innovation
AI can be used to encourage creativity by enabling students to generate AI content such as art, music and literature. Similar to creating something from scratch, using AI tools for creativity and innovation requires problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
3. Advanced assessment and feedback
AI tools can be used to automatically grade assignments and provide immediate and detailed feedback to students, helping them to understand what needs to be improved. This is not only helpful to students, but can also enhance teacher efficiency by enabling them to track student progress, streamline assessments, and easily identify students that need additional support.
4. Accessible and inclusive education
AI can be used to create more inclusive learning experiences based on individual student needs, strengths, and interests. For example, assistive technologies, such as speech-to-text and language translation tools, can make learning more accessible for students with additional needs, while AI-driven augmented and virtual reality applications can be used to better engage students with different learning preferences.
5. Administrative efficiencies
Administrative tasks like creating lesson plans, generating tests and quizzes, and grading students can be streamlined with AI technology, enabling teachers to spend more face-to-face time with students.
6. Data-driven insights
AI-powered tools can collect and analyse vast amounts of student data. Teachers can use these insights to track student progress and intervene if additional support is needed, while educational bodies can use this data to inform the development of curriculum.
What are the challenges of using AI in the education sector?
While there are many potential benefits of using AI in classrooms, teachers should also be aware of the challenges to ensure the technology is used responsibly and ethically.
Plagiarism and cheating
One of the biggest concerns for teachers, and the major reason behind the initial bans, is the misuse of AI for plagiarism or cheating. AI technology can be used to generate unique content, which can then be submitted as a student’s own work. But while the content produced by AI is technically unique, it’s scraped from a wide variety of sources without giving proper credit to the original creators. AI can also enable cheating in online exams by providing students with real-time answers.
Privacy and security
AI systems need data to function. Issues arise when teachers and students feed the AI with personal or sensitive information about students, which not only exposes individuals to the risk of identity theft, but also opens up schools to legal issues if information is used unethically. Unauthorised access, data breaches, or misuse of student data can have serious consequences.
Overreliance on technology for student evaluation
Using AI for student evaluation removes human judgement from the equation, which could result in teachers overlooking important qualitative aspects of a student’s performance, such as the effort they put in or the potential they demonstrate.
AI algorithms might also inadvertently introduce biases into the evaluation process. For example, an AI algorithm may favour a certain writing style or penalise an ESL student.
There’s also a lack of transparency in how AI algorithms evaluate student performance, which not only means biases go unnoticed, but also that students aren’t able to clearly see how decisions are made. Transparency in grading is critical because it allows students to understand their mistakes and make improvements.
AI has the potential to provide inaccurate information to students, especially if the system is trained using unreliable or out-of-date data. There are also concerns about the creation of content that includes manipulated media. As AI technology advances, this type of media, which includes “deepfake” videos and recordings, is becoming more and more convincing, leading to the spread of false information.
Algorithmic bias and discrimination
AI learns from its sources. What this means is that an AI tool will adopt the same biases as the people who built it and the data it’s trained with. These biases can originate from training data (for example, if the data is not representative of the entire population), as well as the algorithm itself – machine learning algorithms can identify patterns in data that reflect biases, which are then perpetuated with the decisions it makes.
In addition to algorithmic biases that may disadvantage certain groups of students, there can also be disparities when it comes to equitable access to these types of tools. For instance, AI-powered educational tools often require internet access, so students without reliable internet connections at home are at a disadvantage.
Likewise, schools in economically disadvantaged areas may not have the financial resources to invest in AI technologies, which can create a digital divide between different groups of students.
Commercialisation of data
AI systems can collect vast amounts of student data. This data can then be shared or sold to third-party companies for commercial purposes. For instance, student data can be used to create profiles of students, which can then be used for targeted advertising.
What’s more, students and their parents or guardians might not always be fully aware of how their data is being collected, and once their data has been collected, they may no longer have control over how it’s used.
Addressing the challenges of AI
Addressing the issues that surround the use of machine learning in education requires a combination of technological, political and ethical solutions. Some of these solutions include:
Establishing ethical guidelines and regulations
Governments, policymakers and educational institutions should establish a clear ethical framework governing the development and use of AI in education. These policies should include strong data protection laws that clearly outline how student data is used, as well as guidelines on how to use AI responsibly.
Training the AI system using inclusive and diverse content
When teaching AI, ensure that all training data fed to the system is diverse and inclusive to prevent biases. In addition, make sure the content provided by the AI system is accurate and up-to-date.
Introducing digital literacy programs
Teach your students how to be good digital citizens. A digital citizen is someone who uses digital technology responsibly and safely, and is also aware of the potential risks and dangers associated with digital technology. Digital literacy programs can teach students how to critically assess online content, including AI-generated information, and how to spot misinformation and deep fakes.
Students should be able to understand how AI makes decisions. Explainable AI can help in this regard. Explainable AI is an AI tool that explains its decisions and processes to users. This can help students better understand how AI evaluates their work, while also making it easier for users to spot any biases within the data or algorithm.
Educational institutions and AI developers should also be transparent about how AI systems collect and use student data, and all students should have the option to opt out of data collection if they wish.
Engaging the community
Involve all stakeholders, including students, educators, parents, guardians, and the wider community, in the discussion about AI and education. The community should be able to provide feedback on the development, implementation and use of the AI system – this can be a great way to identify any biases that might have been missed otherwise.
Auditing and testing
Ensure to monitor and regularly test the AI system to identify and rectify any biases or instances of misinformation. Regularly auditing your data usage practices will also keep you compliant with any data protection laws.
Maintaining human oversight
AI technology is best used to enhance teaching, not to replace teachers entirely. Educators should play an active role in designing assignments, monitoring and evaluating AI-generated content, and interacting with students. No matter how AI is used, human interaction and oversight is essential and will always be the cornerstone of a quality educational system.
Stay ahead of the curve with the latest EdTech tools
If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that AI is here to stay, and those that don’t adapt are at risk of being left behind. If you’d like to learn more about using technology to enhance your lessons, get in touch. Our suite of EdTech tools, including next generation interactive whiteboards, teaching software and classroom apps, can help you enhance your lessons, keep your students engaged and streamline your day-to-day.