Whether something has been written by a human or created using AI is now a question that goes through our minds. Not that long ago this would have seemed incredulous. But take it from us, all our blog posts are thoroughly researched – in the flesh. But there is a tendency not to trust the rapid rise of AI technology isn’t there. Particularly in education. Educators and parents are nervous for many reasons such as AI creating job insecurity, decreasing interaction with real humans, reducing pupils’ capacity for thought and critical thinking, inaccuracies and misinformation and, the largest elephant in the room, plagiarism.
AI is not new
AI and young people are already accustomed. Where would we be without Google, satnavs, Alexa and more recently ChatGPT? We have algorithms on social media that gets our posts found. This is the world our young people have grown up in. And increasingly we’ve been hearing many positives that this technology brings to the school table at some of the independent schools we work with. They’ve been embracing AI and enhancing the traditional curriculum with it.
The AI note-taking app Goodnotes’ study
Here at Panoba, we’ve a keen interest in where this technology is going. We recently attended the launch of the AI note-taking app Goodnotes’ ground-breaking study on Generative AI in Schools; “Goodnotes for Schools.” Their report on GenAI is the result of interviews and group meetings with industry leaders, educators, ethicists, policy makers, AI practitioners, and students from across the globe. Their contributors covered schools working with underprivileged students from very difficult backgrounds to top independent schools; from clinical psychologists to machine learning experts. All in order to provide a unique and encompassing overview. One that has made us more receptive to learning more.
Using AI in GCSE exams
Last month we read in the Telegraph that the head of Eastbourne College, Tom Lawson, said that artificial intelligence should be used in GCSE exams to stretch the brightest pupils. Strong candidates would be able to demonstrate “ever higher levels of understanding – making the process much more rewarding and able to give credit for those who have skills way above the expected level.” He also said “The introduction of AI is not about replacing our dedicated educators but about augmenting their capabilities and ensuring our students receive the best education possible.”
Real-time dashboards supporting those who need it
And as AI benefits the top end of the scale, it also benefits the lower. Teachers can access real-time dashboards to analyse pupils’ data and plan out learning that’s set at each individual child’s level. Cottesmore School, boarding prep school on the Surrey and Sussex border, use CENTURY, the artificial intelligence teaching and learning platform for schools, colleges and universities. Director Of Studies Mike Waller at Cottesmore said “Ahead of time you can assign pupils nuggets on CENTURY, which allows you to see instantly who has got it, who has understood it, who is able to apply that knowledge and who is really struggling straight away.” By accurately measuring each pupil’s individual strengths and weaknesses, the ones that need support will get it.
AI saving teachers’ time
Staying with Cottesmore School, at the end of last year, it was all over the news that it had appointed an AI chatbot as its ‘principal headteacher.’ The robot, or “Abigail Bailey” as we prefer to know her as (if you’d like to see her click here) is assisting the headmaster, Tom Rogerson, on a range of issues and decisions. Impressively “Abigail” has helped him draft school policies, issue instructions to staff and supported students with learning disabilities such as ADHD. Saving time.
Likewise, The Science Department at Downe House in Berkshire use an AI platform called Educake that also saves the teacher time. It sets questions (with the teacher’s input) and as the pupil completes each question (normally a short answer or multiple choice). The answers are marked automatically with feedback. In class the teacher can see real-time progress of each pupil and can address any questions needing to be asked.
What we’ve learnt
So, addressing the concerns mentioned at the start, we see reassuring details emerging.
1. On keeping our teachers in employment and the current level of human interaction; perhaps ironically, having AI technology assisting a lesson can provide more human engagement. With time consuming tasks such as lesson plans and marking being automated, a teacher is freed up to have more personal interaction with the pupils. Thereby justify the need for the teacher along with providing face-to-face teaching.
2. On plagiarism; measures include employing AI detection software for essay work, teachers double checking writing styles against pupils’ past coursework and looking out for the repetitive sentence structures and overly complex vocabulary associated with AI created content.
3. On inaccuracies; pupils will be directed, encouraged and supported to identify and use effective age-appropriate resources.
4. On reducing pupils’ capacity for thought and critical thinking; there are methods new and old to deal with this. For example, in-class presentations or essays could be assigned and carried out individually or collaboratively with their classmates. Using their own thinking skills. Marc Natanagara, Education Consultant and Trainer gave a fascinating TED talk last December on “Machine Learning, AI, and the Future of Education” which shines a light on this potential problem area. Reevaluating how we learn at school and “reimagining the future of education.” He talked about future-proofing our classrooms, working with the AI’s strengths and weaknesses and valuing human intelligence.” He said “Get students to use parts of their brain computers don’t have.” “Tap into the capacity, diversity and creativity of their human minds.” He ends the talk on the following findings which we’ve summarised here:
- Emphasise live hands-on experiences. Then discuss and reflect.
- Ask questions about meaning. What it means to you.
- Ask students to make connections with the real world. Ask for context. Look at various perspectives including global.
- Ask students about their feelings. Use emotional intelligence. AI can’t do this.
- Ask them to use their current understanding in a new situation, think outside the box.
What we’ve written is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll end by saying AI clearly needs regulating on a continual basis but intelligent tutoring systems that can provide tailored content, adaptive assessments and real-time feedback is here to stay and needs to be embraced. To achieve the ultimate goal of helping both teachers and children thrive.
AI should be used in exams to stretch the brightest pupils, says public school headmaster, The Telegraph
Cottesmore School on how AI is helping prep schools to thrive, CENTURY
Idenitfying AI-Written Essays: A Step-by-Step Guide for Teachers, Educraft
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) in education, GOV.UK
British school appoints AI chatbot as its ‘principal headteacher’, KSBY
Machine Learning, AI, and the Future of Education | Marc Natanagara | TEDxBrookdaleCommunityCollege, Youtube
Potential downsides of AI in education, Promethean
AI and Teaching: The Future is Now, Downe House