If the genie is out of the bottle, we might as well make 3 wishes: AI and Schools
With the rapid proliferation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), throughout our daily lives, its real and potential impact has led to a state of anxiety and exhilaration in equal doses. The transformative power of AI has already made its mark in many fields, promising us immediate interactive access to mankind’s accumulated knowledge. Furthermore, self learning AI is predicted to far surpass our current understandings in most fields which could lead to exciting breakthroughs as well as disturbing outcomes.
While the promise of AI is exciting, most, including AI developers, agree that common sense standards are needed to reign in the most dangerous scenarios that have been predicted or are unforeseen.
For educators, this begs the question, what role do schools and educators play in the AI revolution and how will it impact how students learn? Many believe that we must adapt to and even “embrace” the evolving AI landscape. There is, of course, a wide spectrum of opinion, from limiting or restricting availability to kids, to providing complete access, and everything in between. Will the ubiquitousness of powerful AI provide educators with the opportunities to not only reimagine traditional education, but to finally make transformational change a reality in our schools? Is AI the panacea we've been waiting for? I wonder...
The Illusion of Technological Game Changers in Education
For many years, we have witnessed the rise of numerous technologies that were anticipated to be game-changers for schools, only to fall short of these transformative promises. Despite the introduction of major technological advancements impacting most areas of work and industry, the core structures of education have stubbornly remained unscathed. It seems as though schools possess an uncanny ability to absorb and assimilate seismic shifts in the world without fundamentally changing how they operate. Groundbreaking technologies like the internet are often tamed, controlled, and doled out to students in “manageable” bite sized portions, so that business as usual can prevail. Often these technologies become the latest glittering object. Remember when every classroom had to have an electronic white board? With all the paradigm shifting advancements in the world, most kids are still sitting at desks in classrooms following a bell schedule as they travel from one siloed subject to the next. Over the years and decades have our schools fundamentally changed?
Today, we are merely scratching the surface of AI's potential, which extends beyond the acquisition of knowledge and into the realm of engaging with an intelligence beyond our full understanding. Sound scary? While AI developers have unleashed this force without adequate guardrails, and the consequences remain uncertain, there it is! The genie can’t or won't be put back in the bottle.
Navigating the AI Revolution
In spite of uncertainty and justified concerns, the world of AI is expanding and will continue to proliferate. If students can utilize AI systems to personalize their learning using AI-based, adaptive learning platforms for tutoring, study tools, data analyses and research, content creation, career guidance to name but a few, shouldn't we provide students with every opportunity to engage with and better understand this brave new world. With such powerful tools comes responsibility, and students must learn how to use AI responsibly, (a term that requires defining). It is therefore, essential for teachers and students to engage with and explore AI, (which they will do anyway), enabling them to understand its power, potential and implications.
Whether we like it or not the AI revolution is here, and its impact on education and everything else is inevitable and unknown. Positive impactful change will hopefully be driven from without and within our schools. As we navigate this ever-changing landscape, it is crucial to remain open-minded, adaptable and agile and learn together with our students. Educators and kids need to explore AI’s potential and grasp its ethical implications. This is not something we can shy away from out of fear of the unknown.
The transformative power of AI represents an opportunity for educators to take a bold step with their students to explore this exciting and fraught realm. (Or we can continue to try to keep our fingers in the dyke.) Let us embark on this journey together, driven by the belief that collaboration and curiosity will lead us to new frontiers of knowledge and understanding. Whether we like it or not, there’s no going back!
*All images were created by Stable Diffusion generative AI