It was not that long ago that the use of mobile devices and social media in to schools and in to the classroom was something that left educators quaking. All they could see were the bad outcomes of students glued to their screens and the negative impacts of social media.
While social media companies do have a lot to answer for in relation to teen mental health, the overall embrace of technology in education has worked out far better than anyone could have predicted. In fact it was one of our very own articles, almost exactly a decade ago that encouraged Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). The article went viral generating significant interest but also over time, the idea of embracing technology within the learning sphere has become more acceptable.
Now here we are, another age away and this time, educators are finding themselves once again having to content with new and unknown technology – Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The fear of students using AI
When we encounter the unknown our most common reaction is to always stand against something that is different and often to view it with suspicion and fear. The issue with AI of course, is that a whole host of books and movies that have always painted AI as the scary, horrific and in some cases even a murderous outsider. One that takes human benevolence to its existence too far and eventually lords over its own creators. Books such as 1984, I, Robot, The Matrix and well known movies Ex Machina, A.I Aritficial Intelligence, even The Terminator all paint a future with AI that is fearful and harrowing.
To AI or not to AI – That is the question
So, it is of course no surprise that the advent and development of AI has been looked upon with fear rather than curiosity, with suspicion rather than confidence, especially in the realms of education. Far from saying that these negative perceptions are unfounded, there are unfortunately truly serious concerns about the far-reaching consequences of students relying on AI.
The speed and accuracy with which AI can now whip up a college level essay and the ease of access and the pervasiveness of students eventually relying on AI to do the work seems to be an unwinnable proposition. So while some like NYC banning ChatGPT choose the all or nothing route, we do believe it is far more effective to teach students the pitfalls of relying on AI for their learning.
AI on how to approach the dangers of relying on AI
In doing so, we asked Chat GPT to write about how to approach the potential dangers of relying on itself. Below is its unedited response:
Teaching students about the potential dangers of relying solely on AI for their assignments is an important aspect of promoting critical thinking and digital literacy. Here are some suggestions on how to approach this topic effectively:
1. Introduce the limitations of AI
Start by explaining the limitations of AI systems. Emphasize that AI algorithms are designed to assist and augment human intelligence, but they are not flawless. Highlight that AI lacks common sense, contextual understanding, and the ability to make moral judgments.
2. Discuss biases in AI
Explain that AI systems can be biased due to the data they are trained on. Show examples where biased data has led to discriminatory outcomes. Encourage students to critically analyze and question the output of AI algorithms, highlighting the importance of human oversight.
3. Highlight the need for human creativity and critical thinking
Emphasize that AI is a tool, not a substitute for human intelligence. Discuss the unique abilities that humans possess, such as creativity, intuition, and critical thinking, which are essential for complex problem-solving and analysis.
4. Present case studies
Share real-life examples where overreliance on AI has led to negative consequences. These could include instances of misinformation spreading, incorrect or biased recommendations, or the potential loss of essential skills due to excessive dependence on AI tools.
5. Teach data literacy
Help students develop a strong understanding of data and its interpretation. Teach them to assess the quality, reliability, and relevance of the data used by AI systems. Encourage them to question and validate the sources of data, promoting critical evaluation skills.
6. Encourage human collaboration
Emphasize the importance of collaboration and human interaction in learning. Explain that working together, discussing ideas, and receiving feedback from peers and teachers can enhance learning outcomes in ways that AI cannot replicate.
7. Promote ethical considerations
Discuss the ethical implications of relying on AI, such as privacy concerns, algorithmic transparency, and the impact on employment. Encourage students to reflect on the ethical implications of their own use of AI in academic contexts.
8. Provide opportunities for hands-on learning
Engage students in activities that involve understanding and building AI systems. By experiencing the limitations, biases, and challenges firsthand, students can develop a more nuanced understanding of the technology.
Remember to foster a safe and inclusive environment where students feel comfortable expressing their opinions, asking questions, and engaging in critical discussions about the role of AI in their academic work and beyond.
The final non-AI word
In the end, much like the pervasiveness of technology in learning and education these days, it is clear that AI will find its way in to the world of education. The question isn’t how do we keep it out, but how do we teach our students to use it wisely and cleverly.
We need our students to realise that AI is only ever going to be as good as whatever original thought is out there, and even if we cannot humanly access all possible information the way AI can, what we have on our side is far more valuable – creativity, ingenuity, humanity.
We need to teach them how to assess good and bad responses whether from AI or from other sources online. Wikipedia was a notorious source of information until students started to realise that it was also an untrustworthy one.
We need to teach them collaborative skills and team working and how discussions can lead to amazing ideas.
Ultimately we need to teach them that AI is not something to be feared, nor to be relied upon and that at the end of the day it, much like so many things in our fast moving developed world is a tool that can be used for better or for worse.