Exploring avenues of AI in education
The conversation around artificial intelligence (AI) mainly revolves around job stealing, but that doesn't mean you can't squeeze some utility out of it now. While debates about ethics rages on, many are ecstatic that they could have their assignments done for free through ChatGPT. But AI usage doesn't need to stay limited to producing generic content.
Multidimensional integration of AI in education would mean modifying its entire structure, but if done right, it could improve efficiency and provide additional support for students and teachers alike.
AI can be used to automate tedious parts of the job, like grading multiple choice questions (MCQs), which not only saves time for both student and teacher but also lets students know their marks immediately. The system can customise courses according to the student's requirements, identify their weaknesses, and give them feedback accordingly. A detailed report based on student data can be generated along with appropriate recommendations and sent to their educators. The personalised learning mechanism would be similar to what students experience in an in-person classroom.
Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular, with many students using them as a sophisticated, personalised version of Google. Some universities also employ chatbots to serve as campus guides which helps students navigate around the institute's facilities.
An AI-powered system also has the potential to increase accessibility for students with special needs. Since the algorithms can analyse a student's performance and adjust their content and pace accordingly, students with learning disabilities can advance at their own pace.
Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, is a strong proponent of integrating AI into the learning process. His educational organisation recently launched an AI-powered teaching assistant named Khanmigo. Its usage varies from providing students with essay feedback to creating lesson plans for teachers.
Several countries have already started investing in AI-based education systems to get ahead of the game. Singapore's AI Centre for Educational Technologies has developed a program called Codaveri which detects errors in students' coding assignments and provides comments accordingly. South Korea plans to unveil customised digital textbooks based on students' academic prowess from 2025. In Finland, a country with a consistently top-ranked education system, roughly half of the schools use ViLLE, a learning platform that includes personalised learning paths, academic diagnostic tools and an advanced AI engine that lets teachers assign personalised tasks.
There's a pervasive apprehension among educators of AI enabling academic dishonesty. While ChatGPT-generated essays came into vogue, so did AI-detection businesses like Turnitin. It's too soon to tell, but there's always the possibility that with the uptick of cheating methods, counteracting tools will pop up proportionally.
It should be noted that incorporating AI in education isn't exactly a revolutionary concept for the future; it's been here a while. In 2020, Coursera introduced an AI tool called CourseMatch which matches classes in schools' on-campus course catalogues to courses in Coursera's catalogue.
Like any other technology, AI will need regulatory frameworks to prevent exploitation. UNESCO has already published guidelines to regulate the use of generative AI in education, which can be a potential starting point for educational policymakers. However, for AI to truly revolutionise education, a lot more has to be done, both in terms of regulating the technology and innovating with it.
Reuters (September 7, 2023). UNESCO seeks regulation in first guidance on GenAI use in education.
Ziba Mahdi is a student of NSU.