With all the recent news of artificial intelligence (AI) in the media, I’m here to share my opinions and insights from working in education as an IT manager on how I think AI can play its part within A Big Education.
We are at the very start of the growth curve with AI and the potential that this technological advancement can enable is very much in its infancy. It’s hard to predict how it will develop. Thinking back to the Dot-com bubble, when the World Wide Web was first conceived in 1990, I can’t imagine that Tim Berners-Lee ever envisaged that people would be accessing the internet from anywhere via a small bar kept in their pockets.
Weak AI already exists in education, with Google Search asking us ‘Did you mean?’ when we make a spelling mistake and Amazon’s Alexa answering select questions to our voices, but we are now in the midst of an advancement where we have computational power for an AI language model to harness and interpret data from large libraries of data in seconds.
For teachers, this could be an AI-powered marking system, which could save teachers a lot of time and effort and help to ensure that marking is consistent and objective. AI could also be used to create and curate educational content that is tailored to the needs and interests of individual students. How long would it take a teacher to generate 30 individual lesson plans?!
For students, AI could aid their learning by providing an AI-powered coaching system that could provide students with immediate feedback and could help them to stay on track and motivated. AI-powered chatbots could also provide students with quick and accurate answers to their questions, which could help to reduce the workload on teachers and support staff.
I believe that teachers and students are in the privileged position where they are very much the makers of their own future with AI and have the freedom to help mould the outcome. ‘Classroom ready’ packaged AI solutions are not yet mainstream so the opportunity for anyone to utilise these beta tools to improve the learning experience for students, teachers, and leaders alike is right now! Who knows, a small scale AI based solution established by a teacher could one day be developed into a mass market solution used by schools around the world? I am interested to hear your ideas!
What I’m also really interested in, is the significance of AI when offering an expansive education of the head, heart and hand for young people. The opportunity, possibilities and implications are huge and I believe we should be leaning into this, not leaning out. For example:
- New subjects: With the inclusion of AI in the curriculum, new subjects such as machine learning, robotics, and computer science may be introduced.
- Focus on computational thinking: AI requires strong computational thinking skills, and as a result, the curriculum may focus more on developing these skills in students.
- Digital literacy: AI is a digital technology, and its integration into the curriculum may require students to have a better understanding of digital literacy and online safety.
- Personalised learning: AI has the potential to personalise learning for students by analysing their strengths and weaknesses and adjusting the curriculum accordingly.
- Future job skills: As AI continues to shape the job market, the curriculum may need to incorporate skills and knowledge that will be required for future jobs in AI-related fields.
The integration of AI into the UK school curriculum has the potential to provide students with valuable skills and knowledge that will prepare them for a rapidly evolving world.
What I don’t see is AI being a replacement for the teacher. When the internet was brought into schools, even though students had access to all human knowledge, teaching evolved to harness the tool by helping students interpret the knowledge and develop platforms to support learning. AI will be the next step in the evolution of what we teach and allow new ways of learning that were not conceivable before. Look how far technology has brought us already. Remote teaching during lockdown would have looked a whole lot different in 1989 compared to 2020!
AI will soon become so seamlessly integrated into our day to day activity that it will become the norm. In fact, some of this article has been written by AI powered ChatGPT. Can you guess which bits?