In 2023, it is impossible to watch the news without an item discussing the threats posed and potential benefits offered to society by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Most people, by now, will have tried Microsoft’s Chat-GPT or Google’s Bard (many of your pupils will have done the same armed with a prompt that they hope to use to complete a homework assignment). Chat-GPT and Bard are examples of Generative AI, large language models that have been trained on a massive amount of text data, allowing them to generate human-like text in response to a given prompt. Non-generative AI platforms do not produce content (such as homework) but use huge datasets to recognise complex patterns (facial recognition software, for example).
While the ethics of AI may be contested, the genie is now out of the bottle. AI is now a part of everyday life. So, if the cultural biases and privacy concerns can be managed, could AI benefit UK schools?
One way in which schools could use AI is to help reduce the workload of teachers. It is not farfetched to see AI becoming a valuable tool assisting marking, lesson planning, and even student feedback.
Marking and Assessment
With the help of AI, day-to-day marking could be made much more efficient. For example, AI could be used to mark where multiple-choice answers are appropriate. This frees up the teacher’s time to focus on what the marks are telling them. In theory, AI could assess a range of data points for students to identify underlying trends pointing towards learning disabilities, allowing teachers to provide additional support and resources where needed.
Another area where AI could benefit is lesson planning. Teachers spend countless hours creating lesson plans that are engaging and effective for their students. However, this process can be streamlined and made more efficient with AI. AI could analyse student data and provide recommendations on lesson plans that are most effective for specific groups of students.
AI could provide valuable feedback to pupils flexibly. For example, AI chatbots could answer questions and provide feedback on homework assignments outside of class. In addition, AI could analyse pupil data and deliver personalised information to be incorporated into the teacher’s feedback, helping them improve their academic performance.
AI as a Subject
Alongside becoming a tool inside and outside the classroom, AI will inevitably become a subject of study. With technology moving so rapidly, it will be hard for the curriculum to keep pace, but the computing curriculum will need to include AI sooner rather than later.
The use of AI in UK schools has the potential to revolutionise the way that teachers teach and students learn. By reducing teachers’ workload, AI can help improve the quality of education that students receive, identify areas where students may be struggling, and provide personalised feedback to each student.
However, it is essential to ensure that AI is used ethically and responsibly to ensure all students have access to quality education.