Published: Feb 07, 2023
Welcome back to our series on the effects of AI programs on education. Last time we spoke about how ChatGPT can be used to cheat on assignments, which has led to the creation of tools that help detect the use of AI programs by students. We also spoke about the pitfalls of taking dishonest shortcuts, and how resisting the urge to cheat builds strength and character. If you haven’t read part one, you can do so here. Now that we’re all caught up, let’s talk about the ways in which AI programs might affect teachers, and whether they will change education.
First, we should mention that certain AI systems have been used in education for quite some time now. Most typically, machine-based AI is implemented by testing companies in order to grade essays submitted by students who are enrolled in online courses. This is because online courses often allow for nearly unlimited participants, which means the number of assignments that are submitted could easily overwhelm a human. In this case, the AI system is being used by the educators, not the students.
Programs like ChatGPT are available for use by anyone, which means they can be harnessed by both teachers and students. We already spoke about how such programs can be used to cheat, and how as of the present, there are tools which can be used to detect AI-written assignments. By now we’re all pretty familiar with the concept of a new security measure being put into place, only for hackers to find another way to get around it. We’re probably looking at another one of those situations when it comes to the use of AI programs to cheat and those who create tools to stop it—it’s the old tug-of-war between the good and the villainous.
For teachers, the use of AI programs by students might add a new dimension to their work. Now, when a teacher goes to grade their students’ assignments, they will also have to perform an additional screening process in order to determine whether any AI programs were used. Teachers and professors are notoriously busy people who have many tasks to attend to, so it doesn’t seem fair that they would have to add even more to their plate because of some lousy cheaters.
With everything we’ve been talking about, it would seem as though the use of AI in education is mostly a bad thing, but that’s not exactly true. We already know that AI is here to stay, so it would be to our collective advantage to learn how to implement it in constructive ways that can increase efficiency or simplify certain tasks. When it comes to education, there are some ways in which AI can make a positive impact. Through automation, AI can assist teachers with certain tasks such as the aforementioned grading or sending out mass messages to students. With increased efficiency, teachers will be able to focus more of their energy on lesson plans, or tending to the needs of their students when necessary.
Another great way to implement AI into education is through the use of chatbots. You might have encountered such chatbots when visiting certain websites, where they’re often used to perform simple customer service-related tasks. AI chatbots can also be leveraged by colleges and other educational facilities to perform similar tasks. Let’s say a major snow storm is predicted to roll in and students are concerned whether their classes will be canceled the next day. Rather than waiting until the next morning, students can send a message to an AI chatbot 24/7 for any relevant updates. Additionally, these chatbots can be programmed to proactively send out messages en masse, which would allow staff members to focus on other more pressing tasks, thus increasing their productivity and efficiency.
Perhaps most importantly, AI can be used to create personalized lesson plans for students. This can be especially useful for students who require extra help or who are in special needs classes. The AI can be programmed to react to any specific student’s needs, and can adjust its lesson plan accordingly. Let’s say a particular student is falling behind. In this case the student can work with the AI, focusing on the areas in which they are struggling, all while the teacher continues with their intended lesson plan. This can act as a sort of equalizer, and gives each student a chance to learn at their own pace if necessary.
Like it or not, AI is here to stay. With the right kind of implementations, AI can be an extremely powerful tool, and would be less likely to be used in nefarious ways. Of course, this will require great responsibility moving forward, as the consequences of the widespread use of AI programs cannot be easily predicted. With education, it seems that the use of AI programs can go either way, which means we must devise and put in to place a series of appropriate regulations to ensure fairness among students and teachers.
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