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Updated 12 Jan 2023

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic was the first real disruptor to the education sector, as it necessitated a shift for many from face-to-face learning to online education. Many local and international schools adapted exceptionally well to this new challenge and even innovated to make the new learning experience more engaging for their students.

In a post-pandemic world, the next major change facing teachers, parents and students is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in learning.

AI and students

OpenAI publicly released the natural language chatbot, ChatGPT, in November 2022, and it has been heralded as one of the best AI chatbots released to date. This powerful AI is brilliant at writing English essays at a simple prompt, and students and teachers alike have taken a great deal of interest in it.

The New York City Department of Education recently blocked access to the AI tool on all department networks and devices, citing concerns about plagiarism and the AI’s inability to inculcate critical thinking and problem-solving skills in students.

Several software development companies are already logging hours creating anti-cheating tools to help educators mitigate the possible negative side effects of ChatGPT. While there is still a lot of uncertainty about what this new technology means for education, an inescapable fact is that schools and teachers will have to embrace the looming disruption and find new ways of teaching and assessing.

AI and teachers

AI may not only make learning easier for students, but also teaching for instructors. Generative AI can write curricula and lesson plans, create rubrics and even grade students’ assignments. With the average US teacher working approximately 54 hours a week according to the Annual Merrimack College Teacher Survey, AI can automate some of the most time-consuming parts of a teacher’s job.

This would leave educators with more time for personal student interactions or spending time with their families. Still, AI has its limitations and, in some cases, can get some facts wrong. AI-generated responses can lack context and information. ChatGPT, for example, lacks information on events that happened after 2021. Consequently, teachers will still need to review and tailor the content generated by AI based on their students' needs, contexts and knowledge.

Opportunities to drive educational development with AI

There are many opportunities to improve the classroom and language-learning experience with AI. Teachers have the chance to make student perspective and voice take precedence rather than the regurgitation of facts. Incorporating AI into the curriculum is also an opportunity to steer student-led learning, as pupils will have the option to work alongside AI while retaining control of their assignments.

Not only will this prepare students for a world of constant technological innovation, but it will teach them the valuable skill of working with AI rather than competing against it.