Artificial Intelligence in Education

School staff are no strangers to change and having to adapt to new technologies. From the shift from paper to electronic record keeping, the introduction of personal computing devices such as iPads in the classroom, or even the delivery of coding in lessons, teachers are well-versed in technological change.  

In their latest Staffroom Newsletter, the team at Connex Education Partnership have explored the latest technology challenge facing the education sector, by considering how the advances in AI are likely to impact the education sector and schools in particular.  

The Official View

With media frenzy building over ChatGPTGoogle Bard, and other AI tools, the latest iteration of these Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools is another example of the need to reflect upon and refine school-based practice to better align education to available technologies. Described by Education Secretary (Gillian Keegan MP) as a ‘game changer’, AI is heading our way and requires us to be well informed to make the most of the opportunities, whist being ready to react to the challenges.  

 On the one hand, the development of large language models (LLMs) such as those used by ChatGPT or Google Bard could have a positive impact on reducing staff workload. Conversely, however, the challenges around potential student plagiarism and the impact on learning cannot be underestimated. To this end, the JCQ* (Joint Council for Qualifications) have published guidance for schools. You can download the ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use in Assessments: Protecting the Integrity of Qualifications’ PDF from this page. 

 The Department for Education has also shared a statement in response to the development of AI and the potential implications for education settings which can be read here; and indeed, AI was one of the focus areas in Gillian Keegan (MP)’s recent address to the BETT Show Ed Tech event. Her full address can be read here. 

Detecting AI Use

Detecting AI usage by students can be a challenging task, as technology evolves rapidly and becomes increasingly sophisticated. However, various methods can be employed to identify AI-generated content. For instance, educators can use plagiarism detection tools (see below) that are specifically designed to flag content generated by AI models. These tools employ advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques to compare student work against a vast database of existing content. Additionally, monitoring the timing and consistency of student responses can help identify instances where AI may have been utilised. 

 Some of the more prominent AI detection tools include: 

Reliability of AI Detection Tools

It’s important to remember that while these tools have improved significantly in recent years, they are not infallible. False positives and false negatives can occur, leading to misidentification or missed instances of AI usage. Therefore, it is crucial for educators to use detection tools as a starting point and supplement them with human judgment and contextual understanding. Educators should also remain updated on the latest advancements in AI and work closely with technology providers to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of detection tools. 

The Future of AI in Education

As the technology continues to evolve, the future of AI in education holds immense potential. AI can be used to personalise learning experiences, streamline the creation of teaching material, adapt curriculum to individual needs, and provide real-time feedback to students. AI can also help educators gain valuable insights into student performance, enabling data-driven decision-making and targeted interventions.  

However, striking a balance between human interaction and AI-driven education will be crucial to preserving creativity, critical thinking, and social interaction in the learning process. 

Our View

At Connex, we believe that technology is broadly a force for good and where used appropriately and with the correct controls, it can significantly enhance the student and educator experience. Undoubtedly, there will be AI creeping into the classroom in many different ways, and we must learn to adapt, integrate where it can add genuine value and benefits, and police where it can be abused. Only by being vigilant, adapting to change, and remaining aware of the various fast-paced technological changes can our education system continue to provide the high-quality service it does to our nation’s students.  

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