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AI in Education: The Robots Are Taking Over - And We Should Probably Let Them.
Thought Leadership //24-04-2023

AI in Education: The Robots Are Taking Over - And We Should Probably Let Them.

by OneAdvanced PR, Author

Everyone seems to be talking about ChatGPT.

Along with other AI large language models such as Google’s Bard, this powerful disruptive technology is currently gathering increased media attention and generating both excitement and concern from the public. Understandably, many education professionals are employing caution around the way that students and educators could use a technology with a dialogue format that can answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.

It certainly has the potential to transform education in amazing ways.

One of the reasons this disruptive technology is ruffling feathers is that it takes us so much further forward, technology-wise, in such a short period of time. Perhaps it’s worth thinking back to the time when search engines transformed the way we searched for information on the internet. They democratised access to information in a truly ground-breaking and exciting way and nowadays we use Google, Bing, Yahoo! and others to find information on the worldwide web as a matter of course.

AI has become a vital asset for learning and development in educational institutions across the world. As such, Advanced Education is at the forefront of providing AI-driven solutions for learning and development. Our AI-driven solutions that are being used in the education sector include bksb and Smart Apprentices' Smart Coach. By embracing this technology, we aim to enhance the quality of education and to equip learners with the best possible academic tools to succeed. Our unrivalled suite of solutions can assist providers in many areas of education, including personalised learning, assessments, marking, and administrative tasks.

ChatGPT and AI technology is capable of much more than simple information searching. It interacts with users in a conversational way and can learn to predict answers and even the users’ subsequent enquiries. Inevitably, when technology offers such a huge step forward in potential uses, this massive potential leads to specific pitfalls too, many of which are probably not even being thought about yet.

Disruptive and dangerous?

Educators are understandably worried about how students may use this technology. For example, a user can request a 1,000-word essay on a specific subject, with suggested style, delivered in a few  minutes. When technology can save so much time, how will students, or indeed anyone, be able to resist using it?

Some of the concerns around the negative impact of ChatGPT on learning and education include:

  • It enables plagiarism and cheating, with no attributable sources in the generated content that can be referenced and fact-checked.
  • ChatGPT is so easy to use, reducing learner inclination to research a topic, to use their own judgement around sources and credibility and make their own independent and reasoned arguments.
  • The content may contain inaccuracies that are difficult to check without attributable sources and students may take the path of least resistance, choosing to accept what it has produced.
  • The process of getting their work written for them means they are not fully engaged with the subject and quite possibly won’t read, understand or learn what it contains. The production of essays could become a tick-box exercise.
  • Teachers may not be able distinguish between ChatGPT-generated work and a student’s own as some of the content will appear to be accurate and of high quality. This will inevitably drag tutors into time-consuming checking processes to ascertain authorship.
  • Large language models are not capable of new, original thought, they draw from what has already been input and uses this to form a best likelihood response. Dependence on ChatGPT may therefore shrink the debate around many subjects and encourage no novel thought.
  • AI can’t provide expert opinion and new ideas, and the work it generates may lack personality and the individual ‘voice’ of the student.
  • As with any quick-fix solution, there are concerns about student dependency. Once they start using AI to create their work students may start to rely on it all the time, and lack the confidence to submit their own ideas.

ChatGPT’s own creators suggest it should not be used for high stakes tasks, recognising that it is still prone to inventing or what they call ‘hallucinating’ facts. They recommend it should be used in conjunction with human review and the provision of additional context. Used well, they argue that AI can transform education for the good.

Helping teachers:

  • Tutors can encourage students to try using AI to create a structure for their essays, before then getting them to write them in class - by hand, not on laptops, to help them see the value in planning and structuring their essays more thoroughly.
  • AI can also help teachers to create assessments and to evaluate their students’ work, providing feedback more quickly and automating one of the most time-consuming tasks that eats into their personal time – marking.
  • Ground-breaking new AI solutions like Smart Coach can help drive learner success and retention with their progress detection capabilities. Helping give tutors, assessors and teachers an early insight for when to step in.
  • AI can help create more personalised lesson plans and encourage more original thought by asking GPT to produce one side of an argument, for debate by students.
  • It can help generate new ideas for lesson activities, serving as inspiration for classroom-based exercises.
  • Tutors can use AI-generated content, ChatGPT and image-based AI models such as Midjourney and Firefly to spark debates about intellectual property and ethics of plagiarism and failure to attribute original works to their author or artist.
  • IRT algorithms used in bksb create a fair, accurate and reliable account of assessment results based on the manipulation of large datasets. This allows quality insight for teachers, assessors and tutors.

Helping students:

  • Using ChatGPT may help students learn how to ask the right questions, which is an important part of developing critical thinking processes.
  • It can help with planning functions, such as devising a revision plan prior to exams, or a study plan to help them structure their time over the duration of the course.
  • For example bksb could improve outcomes for students. The technology bksb uses can provide data and analytics on student progress to help providers to evaluate their programmes, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions to help ensure better learning outcomes for their students.
  • AI is very useful for generating computer code and can finding errors in code such as JavaScript, Python and C++ so using ChatGPT may be a gamechanger for Computer Science

students and their teachers, saving them hours of time to produce the same results.

  • AI, in the form of chatbots and automated FAQs and replies can provide an out of hours service, responding to students when tutors are not available and even acting as an personal at-home coach.
  • Bksb has incorporated AI and Item Response Theory (IRT) into its assessment system, allowing for more accurate measurements of learner development. Such measurements give a detailed understanding of a student's level, including intermediary levels between two marks.
  • The bksb system is also tailored to individual students, with AI used to generate questions that best fit their ability. Meaning they can progress through a tailored experience.
  • ChatGPT can helps learners gain access to vast amounts of information quickly, giving them more time for critical thinking and coming up with their own opinions, thoughts and conclusions.
  • AI solutions like Smart Coach could provide the opportunity for reflective learning in students and help them complete courses to a high standard. With caseload risk overviews, risk analysis and learner dashboards, the crucial amount of information available to tutors and assessors helps ensure more learners receive early intervention.

Helping schools and colleges:

  • AI has the immense power to transform most business management processes, including those of education provider organisations.
  • It can help reduce to costs across many business functions, by automating mundane and repetitive tasks, increasing productivity by enabling organisations to achieve more, with less.
  • Conversational AI can improve customer service functions. Interactions with students, parents, employers and other partners and stakeholders can be enhanced by using 24/7 chatbot technology, saving valuable and time-limited human interaction for the more nuanced conversations that really require it.
  • ChatGPT can make short work of producing relevant copy to sit alongside figures and tables in reports, helping ensure they look professional while taking the minimum of time to complete. For example, the AI technology used in Smart Coach can help in marking, and automatically provide instant feedback for students. This can free up the tutors and teachers to spend more time with students who need additional help or attention.
  • AI is a powerful interpreter of data, that can enable better decision-making across the education provider organisation.
  • Automating processes may reduce the number of admin staff needed, which is not necessarily a bad thing in the current skills shortage. More importantly it can free employees up for higher value tasks, giving them a better work experience and helping with staff retention.
  • The AI driven technology in Smart Coach can streamline administrative tasks, thereby reducing the workload of staff and allowing them to focus on providing high quality content for teaching and engagement.
  • Being able to drive learner success and retention with AI solutions like Smart Coach, could reduce attrition in an organisation by 1%, which could results in more learners on average completing their courses. This would mean additional funding of almost £20,000.

A Brave New World

In conclusion, education providers will need to prioritise evaluating the pros and cons, and drafting of their own use policies around ChatGPT and other powerful AI technology.  They may decide to try to block access on school computers, but it is likely that creative young people will find a way around that. AI is a relevant part of their future, so the best solutions will help them to learn how to use this technology to achieve the best outcomes.

Some organisations may be concerned with the sheer speed of change that conversational AI is driving, that could leave policy makers trailing in its wake and playing catch up with a powerful technology that is already ‘out of the box’. The CEO of OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, Sam Altman has said that he hopes that the world can move slowly and adapt to the technology. This will, he says, help his team develop the tool in safe ways, seeking potential mitigations and guidance for policymakers.

Students and education professionals will need to learn to use AI and ChatGPT safely, and effectively, understanding its limitations, appreciating the risks of inaccuracy and most of all, embracing the opportunities for positive change that they bring.

Advanced Education are leading the way in education software solutions by implementing the use of AI in bksb and Smart Coach. Through personalised learning plans, adaptive assessments, and automated marking, the unrivalled suite of solutions can provide individualised instruction to meet learners’ unique needs, strengths, and weaknesses. They can help tutors, assessors, and providers, reduce workload, and provide institutional administrators with analytical data to inform decision-making processes. Advanced Education promise to improve education quality and engagement, better prepare students for academic and professional success, and revolutionise the way educators and providers approach education.

Young peoples’ futures will almost certainly rely on AI – and their jobs may well depend on it too, for example in helping to build a legal argument based on the precedents in previous case judgements, for making medical diagnoses, and for writing computer code that will, in turn, transform the way people work. The advent of AI and ChatGPT will undoubtedly create new job roles and functions, much as the internet did for web designers and SEO experts. We must not fear this change, but embrace it as the next great leap forward in technology that can make our lives better, if we choose it to.

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