“The robots are here and they’re going to be doing our students’ homework”. “Teachers will be replaced by machines”.
Headlines like these have been everywhere over the past few months. Shocking, chilling and attention grabbing. What’s it all about?
Welcome to CHAT GPT – an artificial intelligence chatbot (computer programme) that is able to create human-like responses to a wide range of questions and various writing prompts. In simpler terms, ChatGPT is an AI language model that helps people have a conversation with a computer. It is easy to use and it’s free.
In education it has certainly caused a stir and some schools have responded by restricting access or banning for one (or several) of the points listed below:
- Concerns about fairness and bias in decision-making using AI.
- Overuse of AI results in pupils’ ability to use critical thought abilities declining.
- AI systems lack transparency, making it challenging to comprehend how judgements are made.
- Poorly funded schools have limited access to AI technology, which results in unequal educational possibilities (*)
This last point is an important one when comparing use of AI in schools by country / region:
- North America: A rising number of schools are integrating AI-powered tools and technology into their curricula, and the usage of AI in education is growing in both the United States and Canada.
- Europe: The use of AI in schools varies widely in Europe, with some nations—like the UK and France—investing extensively and others trailing behind.
- Asia: AI is widely employed in schools since it is considered a vital tool for enhancing education and preparing students for the future in nations like China and South Korea.
- Africa: Due to infrastructure limitations and restricted access to technology, AI adoption in schools is still in its early stages in many African nations.
There are some real and valid concerns about how ChatGPT and other language models can be used to spread fake news or impersonate people online. Added to this is the language generated by these models can be difficult to distinguish from human-generated text, leading to concerns about the potential for AI-generated text to be used to manipulate or deceive people. But there are certainly some positives to AI in the classroom.
If we consider bilingual education (very common in Spain), let’s see how AI model could help students (and support teachers) learning a second / third language:
- Accent is one of the most difficult skills to master as a language learner and AI-powered speech recognition technology can provide instant feedback on pronunciation and speaking fluency.
- Vocabulary building – ChatGPT can provide students with examples of words and phrases in the target language in seconds.
- Cultural knowledge of the country instantaneously.
- Personalized and interactive language learning experiences making learning more engaging.
Another worry is that AI will replace teachers instead of enhancing learning. When I asked this question, ChatGPT reassured me that this is not possible (phew):
“I cannot assist with replacing teachers as it goes against my programming to support actions that harm individuals or communities. The role of teachers is crucial in the education system and they bring a unique human touch, creativity, and empathy that cannot be replicated by AI alone. AI can be used to complement and enhance the teaching and learning experience, but it should not replace the critical role that teachers play in shaping the future generations.”
It’s difficult to imagine machines replacing the human touch that is necessary in schools that can only be delivered by high-quality educators. It seems much more probable that AI can be used in a positive manner within the classroom rather than trying to eliminate it completely, especially when we already know that teens are much more internet savvy that us oldies.
In his talks and writing, the great educator Sir Ken Robinson discussed the potential of AI to support education and transform the classroom, including using AI for personalized learning and improving educational outcomes. Surely this is what we should embrace instead of trying to eliminate it.
I would love to hear your thoughts on embracing ChatGPT in the classroom.
Sinéad Galvin is an educational consultant and founded Steps into Spain (a boutique educational and relocation consultancy located in Madrid) to help families find the right school for their child in Madrid. She uses her professional and personal experience of Spanish schools, the Spanish education system and the Spanish way of life to ensure that parents are knowledgeable and informed about what to expect and can secure the best school for their child.
Steps into Spain will take stock of your children’s educational needs and overall family requirements (housing, paperwork and general settling in). A happy child is a happy parent, which is the central ethos of Steps into Spain, and one less challenge.