Generative artificial intelligence (AI), and, in particular, ChatGPT, has been making headlines in recent months. AI can respond to questions, complete written tasks, and respond to prompts in a human-like manner, by analysing and writing text, or producing audio, video and images.
Whilst many users of generative AI hope that it can help us to address issues directly impacting society, with a pilot due to run in the south-west using AI to predict and prevent pollution, when it comes to use of AI in the education sector, a number of individuals have found that, whilst clear and professional-looking answers to assessment questions can be produced by AI, one of its main pitfalls is that it will create false sources of information. So, is there space for artificial intelligence in education?
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has launched a call for evidence to answer this question. The government is seeking views and experiences on the use of AI in education from education professionals across the sector. The results of this call for evidence will be used to inform future work, and the potential use of AI to reduce workload and improve outcomes. Conversations will also need to be steered towards navigating misuse of AI in preparing essay answers, and the risk of AI being used to cheat in exams.
The Department for Education set out its own position in respect of AI in March this year. The policy paper “Generative artificial intelligence in education” states that when used appropriately, there is space for AI to be used in the education sector to reduce workloads, which could free up the time of teachers and provide the opportunity for them to focus on delivering excellent teaching.
However, the Department for Education recognises that the use of AI comes with potential risks, and the sector will need to take steps to prevent malpractice involving the use of AI, and to ensure that data protection is not jeopardised by inputting personal and sensitive data into AI tools. Further, protections would be required to ensure that students are protected from any potentially harmful content produced by AI, and that cyber security can deflect potentially more sophisticated cyber-attacks as AI use becomes more widespread.
The call for evidence will be open until 23 August 2023, and anyone working in the education sector can provide their views on the issue. The Department for Education will also have conversations with experts to understand how AI is being used in the education sector, and how its future use could benefit the sector.