Navigating The Future Of Education: AI Language Models Role In Schools

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AI tools like ChatGPT is being integrated in the education sector in teaching and learning practises.

In the digital age, the educational sector is witnessing a transformative shift with the rise of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, such as ChatGPT, impacting teaching and learning practices.

Tauranga Boys’ College in the Bay of Plenty region in New Zealand, has been part of this change since 2023, when they allowed their student management system to interface with third-party tools like ChatGPT, as part of a nationwide school trial.

Only permitted to be used as an optional aid to generate school report comments from subject teachers, the AI tool has had mixed feedback since its integration into the school, especially surrounding privacy concerns and data collection.

“This information is strictly confidential to the school and key information can be accessed by staff, students, and parents via login/password access,” Tauranga Boys’ College principal Andrew Turner said in a statement.

New Zealand Ministry of Education Embraces AI in Classrooms

The New Zealand Ministry of Education has recognized the potential of these AI tools to revolutionize classroom experiences, but also emphasizes the need for a comprehensive understanding of their advantages and limitations.

The New Zealand Ministry of Education provides resources and guidance on digital technologies, including ChatGPT, to leverage technology to enhance teaching and learning, while also considering ethical usage and the impact on academic integrity.

Kit Willet, a school-wide digitech team leader and teacher of English at Selwyn College in Auckland wrote and produced a guide, “ChatGPT at School; A Guide to AI Language Models For Secondary Schools.”

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Authored April 2023 with ongoing updates, this guide offers educators insights into integrating AI language models into their curriculums, covering aspects like student engagement, personalized learning, and developing critical thinking skills.

With the continued development of AI tools, the New Zealand Ministry of Education considers several considerations for their effective implementation for educators, from their own guide: Generative AI, outlined as:

Ethical Use: Schools should formulate policies on AI’s ethical use, promoting originality and cautioning against plagiarism.

Digital Literacy: The push for digital literacy in education includes preparing students to critically assess information and navigate the digital realm responsibly.

Data Privacy: Emphasizing data privacy, the Ministry states schools must be cautious about the data shared with AI tools to protect student privacy.

Educational Promise: AI tools like ChatGPT offer personalized learning opportunities, immediate feedback, and a vast information database, acting as virtual teaching assistants to support diverse learning needs.

As educational institutions explore ChatGPT’s integration, guidance from the Ministry and resources like Mr. Willett’s guide help educators understand the capabilities and limitations of generative AI.

Mr. Willet said his resource was initially for Selwyn College teachers but has since gained national attention, and site data shows it has been downloaded 3,000 times.

Despite some widespread apprehension about AI from staff, parents, and the public, he said deeper engagement reveals its potential for individualized education while cautioning against neglecting fundamental skills.

Mr. Willett emphasizes the importance of using generative AI judiciously, particularly in teaching and assessment, highlighting its role in supporting education when used by knowledgeable educators. However, he also points out the misuse of AI for plagiarism, underscoring the need for responsible application in educational settings.

Drawbacks of ChatGPT

Pauline Cleaver, the acting leader of the Ministry of Education Curriculum Centre, mentioned that schools are not obliged to report their use of ChatGPT for generating report comments.

The ministry recognizes that ChatGPT offers significant benefits to schools as it can process large volumes of data efficiently.

“However, they can be unreliable and can invent facts and details,” she said.

In light of this, the ministry advises schools to ensure that information generated by ChatGPT is verified by teachers who have personal knowledge of the student and can identify any inaccuracies.

Ms. Cleaver emphasized the importance of schools having robust policies and procedures concerning privacy, digital technology usage, and data security regarding the use of AI, according to the ministry’s guidance.

Integrating ChatGPT into schools will be an ongoing journey and promises to be a digitally integrated educational system focused on informed, ethical, and innovative learning.

Ministry of Education and educational leaders like Kit Willett provide guidance on this path, encouraging educators and administrators to explore further resources and guidelines for leveraging AI in education.

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