Technology has penetrated every industry, and education is no different. From how we work, communicate, and even think, artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like generative AI have begun making their way into the classroom.
As educators and students struggle to find a way to make the classroom more engaging, this technology is solving that issue. But before we look into what this does, let’s understand what generative AI is in the first place.
One paper defines Generative AI as follows,
“Generative AI can be defined as a technology that (i) leverages deep learning models to (ii) generate human-like content (e.g., images, words) in response to (iii) complex and varied prompts (e.g., languages, instructions, questions).”
You give these tools a prompt, and it generates an output for you.
But what does that mean for educators?
In this article, we will explore the increasing use of generative AI in the classroom and discuss this exciting new technology’s potential benefits and challenges.
Common concerns about using generative AI in the classroom
Generative AI comes with its own set of concerns about its impact on the education industry. Here are a few issues that educators have about this technology:
Potential for plagiarism
As these tools source content from every corner of the internet, they can generate essays and reports on any topic in minutes.
This could tempt students to take shortcuts on graded work—resulting in rehashed work with no effort on their part.
Lack of creativity
If students rely on these AI-powered tools to generate ideas or complete assignments, they’re outsourcing their thought processes. And that’s not something educators want to encourage. They may lose their sense of creativity over time.
Plus, over-reliance on this technology impacts how they build collaboration and communication skills as they may not partake in team activities anymore.
Alternatively, shying away from this technology could also impact students. As these tools can produce great written and graphic content, this poses an opportunity to test a student’s skill by leaning on the advantages of generative AI.
As traditional methods of learning focus on memorization, and not application, it’s up to educators to decide how students can leverage AI, instead of leaving it up to students.
Ethics of generative AI
Many schools in New York and Seattle have already banned ChatGPT— one of the most popular generative AI tools – out of fear of cheating. But banning it won’t solve the issue. Students will find a way to use this technology even if it’s banned on school servers.
The issue with that is they’re unaware of the fact that these tools can provide inaccurate output. As these tools are trained on data only until 2021, it sometimes gives unreliable, biased, and harmful information.
This is why it’s crucial for educators to become AI literate—instead of ignoring the technology altogether.
Benefits of using generative AI in the classroom
Now that we know what kind of issues to look out for, here are a few benefits of embracing generative AI in the classroom:
Increase student engagement
There’s always a sense of excitement when introducing something new in the classroom. But generative AI is more than a toy.
By providing interactive and dynamic learning experiences, AI-powered tools like ELSA Speak increase student engagement in ways traditional methods can’t.
Provide real-time feedback for students
AI-powered tools can provide immediate feedback when trained on the right data. These tools can help students access feedback on areas they struggle in and suggest ways to address those issues. This can help students improve in a shorter period.
Plus, educators can adjust their teaching methods by accessing detailed learning reports and providing tailored support to each student.
For example, ELSA gives students real-time feedback on their pronunciation—helping them rectify the issue immediately.
Enhance creativity and critical thinking skills
As many AI tools can access vast amounts of data on the internet, students can develop a deeper understanding of complex topics. In addition, they can also explore new ideas as they learn. For example, creative lesson prompts can stretch their thinking capacity, leading to better creativity.
Plus, they’re encouraged to fact-check information, as these tools can make up facts. This, in turn, helps them develop independent thinking skills.
These tools generate coherent text well, so it sets the bare minimum bar students need to cross. Educators should focus on providing more creative assignments so students push themselves beyond the bare minimum.
What roadblocks can educators expect while embracing generative AI?
The benefits are clear. However, when adopting this technology, educators must know what to expect during this process.
Here are a few roadblocks that may arise:
Issues with data privacy
Italy’s recent ban on ChatGPT brought in widespread concerns about data privacy. If you input your data into any generative AI tool, its model will use your data to train itself.
So, educators and students must refrain from providing personal data like their name, and location to prevent this from happening. Or invest in tools that come with built-in security measures.
Potential for biased and inaccurate responses
Generative AI tools are only as good as the data that they have been trained on. If the data is biased, the outcomes will also be biased.
A staggering 44% of educators are already concerned about this issue.
For instance, if you’re using an AI tool for learning and assessment, there’s a chance that the algorithm is making decisions based on unknown factors. Especially if personalized learning is the goal, too often, the variables differ from one student to another. The learning process and goals are different for an ADHD student as opposed to one that doesn’t have it.
So, educators should look into what datasets the tool has been trained on and how it works. . This is why it’s best to audit AI systems regularly and ensure they are trained on a diverse dataset.
Lack of understanding on how to use it
As generative AI is still a new technology, many educators and students don’t have enough practice yet. Educators need to invest time in learning its best practices, limitations, and advantages to maximize its benefits. Without that, it’s hard to guide students on what and how to do it.
This is why it’s important to conduct regular training sessions and making sure everyone understands best practices with these tools can help improve the quality of the results and avoid abuse.
Lack of resources to embrace the technology
It’s common for educational institutions to run short on resources. 81% of teachers say their workload increased between 2021 and 2022. These numbers will only increase with the teacher shortage crisis.
Generative AI may help resolve this issue. However, implementation costs are a huge challenge. Many institutions might not have the budget to purchase and leverage expensive tools. As a result, we may expect a strengthening digital divide in some areas of the world.
Embrace generative AI and liven up the classroom
Generative AI in the classroom is an inevitability. But that doesn’t mean educators should let their apprehensions overtake its potential benefits.
Prepare for data privacy issues, plagiarism, and over-reliance on AI. On the other hand, understand the basics of this technology and leverage it to improve the classroom experience not just for your students—but for yourself too.
Are you ready to explore AI technologies in the classroom? Learn more about ELSA’s solutions for schools.