Can Generative AI be beneficial to Education?

When Open AI released Chat GPT late in 2022 there was a great deal of concern about its possible impact on the education sector. Will it encourage cheating, or will it hinder critical thinking among students among many others? This concern was shared at both the secondary and tertiary levels. There were even reports of some school districts banning the use of ChatGPT and other AI in their schools.

As is always the case, there is continuous improvement in any new technology, and in the case of AI, it is the same. Tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple have invested heavily leading to an explosion in this technology.  It is interesting to note that there seems to be a turnaround by some educational institutions in their approach to AI. The focus now is on establishing ground rules and guidelines for using generative AI.  The article in the link below provides an interesting read on the role UNESCO is playing in leading this shift in focus.

UNESCO has put forward eight (8) specific measures that educational institutions can adopt to ensure quality education, social equity, and inclusion:

  • Promote inclusion, equity linguistic, and cultural diversity.
  • Protect human agency
  • Monitor and validate GenAI systems for education
  • Develop AI competencies including GenAI-related skills for learners
  • Build capacity for teachers and researchers to make proper use of GenAI
  • Promote plural opinions and plural expressions of ideas
  • Test locally relevant application models and build a cumulative evidence-base
  • Review long-term implications in intersectoral and interdisciplinary manner

I am particularly interested in number 5 – Build the capacity of teachers and researchers to make proper use of GenAI.  I believe that if teachers understand how to effectively use this new technology and the benefits to be derived then they will be better able to guide students in the proper use of it and be able to identify improper use as well.  I believe embracing AI and GenAI in education has to be the better way to go.

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