The arrival of generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT in the world of education raises many questions about academic integrity. Teachers are on the front line of this revolution, but many of them feel overwhelmed by this technology’s arrival in the classroom.
In detail, 49% of teachers do not feel sufficiently prepared for the impact of AI in education, reports a recent survey conducted by Oxford University Press among 1,280 educators in several countries including the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Spain and Australia.
While educational staff lament a lack of training, they are aware that students are using generative AI for educational purposes. In fact, 54% of teachers surveyed suspect that their pupils are using the software to do their homework.
This unsupervised use divides educators: some fear that young people will rely on the tech in their daily school lives, which could lead to a decline in critical thinking and knowledge acquisition; while others see it as a valuable learning tool.
If the survey is anything to go by, the latter camp seems to prevail, with over 70% of respondents optimistic about the impact of AI in education.
“If it is used properly, it can only have a positive impact on student learning, creating individualised lessons for all types of learners, and not a ‘one-for-all’ methodology,” an English language teacher in Italy told the authors of the study.
However, this integration requires careful thought. Children and teenagers need to be taught how to make good use of generative AI, and to understand that it’s a supplementary source of knowledge, not a magic solution for getting good grades.
In addition, it’s vital to encourage teachers to engage with this technology in their teaching practice, so that they can better guide their students in a world where AI could be an everyday reality.
After all, there’s every reason to believe that the younger generation will be using AI in their daily lives, and not just in their education. Many believe that this technology will revolutionise the world of work, rendering obsolete certain professions in which all tasks can be automated.
As such, it is essential to prepare tomorrow’s workers for this evolution before they enter the job market.
For the time being, however, teachers feel that this is not the case. Those surveyed give current curricula and teaching methods a score of five out of 10 for the way they prepare children for a future with AI technology.
That’s why Oxford University Press CEO Nigel Portwood is campaigning for education systems to be reformed to better encompass the use of artificial intelligence. “Our research shows that teachers and pupils are optimistic about the role of AI in education and recognise how it has the potential to have a positive impact on learning,” he said.
“However, there are many unanswered questions and potential risks associated with this advancing technology. As more people start to adopt, embrace, and experiment with AI, governments and education leaders need to take action – and quickly – to equip both pupils and teachers with the necessary skills so that they can thrive in an AI-enabled future.”