Just like Wikipedia, Google or even the birth of the internet, AI has taken the world – and education by storm. However, unlike Google or the internet, Generative AI is largely misunderstood. Most do not know that they’re already using AI in their daily lives like Siri, Alexa, Google Maps & more but when it comes to education we are somehow paralysed by its potential to barrage comfortable, traditional modes of teaching and assessment.
At the root of this is fear. Fear of the unknown and maybe, just maybe, a resistance to change. Younger educators are dipping their toes into the possibilities AI can bring into education by using ChatGPT or Bard to help them compile lesson plans or develop critical thinking. However, most teachers do not have a foundational knowledge of AI; they weren’t trained on how to master it in the classroom and raise awareness on how to use it ethically with students.
Research has shown that AI significantly impacts the loss of human decision-making and makes us lazy when not utilised in the correct way. Therefore, it is imperative that educational institutions and societies at large implement policies to teach the teachers which in turn will teach the students. As is the case with other disruptive technologies, students may understand AI more than their teachers, creating a gap in the knowledge base.
Most educational institutions responded to the onset of ChatGPT by first banning it, then revoked its bans when they realised it is just another tool in the toolbox. However, in the midst of this, AI literacy and general digital literacy was questioned. Besides that, AI-related skills, such as programming, data analysis, and machine learning, are in high demand in today’s job market but not encouraged at secondary school level.
As AI becomes more integrated into society, technological literacy is becoming as crucial as traditional literacy and numeracy. Ignoring AI means that students won’t have a deep understanding of how AI systems work, their implications, or their ethical considerations. This knowledge gap could leave students ill-equipped to make informed decisions about AI-related matters, both in their personal lives and as future citizens. UNESCO voiced how AI has the potential to shake up the foundations of education to innovate teaching and learning practices and accelerate progress to promote inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all.
Countries that fail to prioritize AI education in their schools may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage on the global stage. AI is a driving force behind innovation and economic growth, and nations that excel in AI development will have a significant edge. Ignoring AI in education could result in a workforce that is ill-prepared to contribute to the AI-driven economy, potentially leading to economic disparities and unemployment.
AI raises a host of ethical and societal questions, from bias in algorithms to privacy concerns and job displacement. Without proper education on AI and its ethical implications, students may inadvertently contribute to, or be negatively affected by, these issues. A lack of awareness and understanding can perpetuate biases, hinder responsible AI development and result in unintended consequences.
AI offers countless opportunities for innovation in various fields, from healthcare and education to agriculture and entertainment. By ignoring AI in education, we miss the chance to nurture the next generation of innovators who could harness AI’s potential to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Diversity and inclusion are critical in AI development to ensure that AI systems are fair and equitable. Ignoring AI in schools may discourage underrepresented groups from pursuing careers in AI-related fields, perpetuating the lack of diversity in the tech industry and potentially leading to biased AI systems.
In an era where AI is becoming increasingly pervasive, ignoring its role in education would be a grave mistake. The consequences of neglecting AI in schools are far-reaching, affecting students’ skills, technological literacy, economic prospects, ethical awareness, and opportunities for innovation. To prepare students for the AI-driven future and ensure that society can harness the benefits of AI while mitigating its risks, it is imperative that educational institutions integrate AI education into their curricula. By doing so, we can empower the next generation to thrive in an AI-dominated world and actively participate in shaping its future.
“How can I incorporate AI in my curriculum?” I hear you ask. Here are some suggestions:
- Determine the level of your students’ understanding of AI
- Set clear learning objectives like the importance of academic integrity, ethical uses and awareness on how to properly use AI in an educational context
- Select appropriate resources like textbooks, online courses, articles, and videos that align with your learning objectives. Keep resources up-to-date as AI technology evolves.
- Introduce the fundamentals of AI like machine learning, neural networks, and data preprocessing. Use simple, relatable examples to explain complex concepts.
- Discuss real-world applications: AI tends to sound very theoretical when not applied to real-world situations. Show how AI is being used in various industries such as healthcare, finance, marketing, and self-driving cars. This helps students understand the practical significance of AI.
- Discuss ethical considerations related to AI, such as bias in algorithms, privacy concerns, and job displacement. Encourage critical thinking and discussions about these topics.
- Incorporate practical projects or exercises where students can apply AI concepts. Start with simple projects like building a chatbot or a basic image classifier using online tools and libraries.
- Teach coding languages and tools commonly used in AI, such as Python and libraries like TensorFlow or PyTorch. Provide tutorials and resources for students to practice.
- Invite guest speakers and industry experts from AI-related fields to share their experiences and insights with your students. This can provide real-world perspectives and inspire students.
- Encourage students to work on AI-related capstone projects where they can apply their knowledge to solve real problems.
- Develop assessments that measure students’ understanding and application of AI concepts. Include both written assessments and practical projects.
- Keep learning current: AI is a rapidly evolving field. Stay updated with the latest developments and technologies in AI to keep your curriculum relevant.
- Provide support and resources: Ensure that students have access to the necessary resources, such as computer labs, software, and online courses. Offer guidance and support for their AI-related endeavors.
- Encourage collaboration among students: AI often involves interdisciplinary teamwork, so fostering collaboration skills is important.
- Provide feedback and adapt: Continuously seek feedback from students and adjust your curriculum based on their needs and suggestions.
Remember that the level of AI integration can vary depending on the age group and educational level of your students. Be flexible and adapt your approach accordingly. Introducing AI gradually and building on foundational knowledge can make it accessible and engaging for students of all backgrounds and interests.