5 Pros and Cons of AI in the Education Sector
Using artificial intelligence in education offers potential opportunities and advantages—but it also comes with challenges and potential drawbacks. In this exploration of the pros and cons of AI in education, we delve into potential benefits ranging from teaching assistance to individualized learning, while also shedding light on the ethical considerations surrounding bias, misinformation, and the future of educators’ roles. The intersection of AI and education is a dynamic landscape where innovation meets apprehension. It's critical to navigate this terrain thoughtfully.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field of computer science and technology that focuses on creating machines, systems, or software programs capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. These tasks include reasoning, problem solving, learning, perception, understanding natural language, and making decisions. AI systems are designed to simulate or replicate human cognitive functions and adapt to new information and situations.
A brief history of artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence has been around for decades. In the 1950s, a computer scientist built Theseus, a remote-controlled mouse that could navigate a maze and remember the path it took.1 AI capabilities grew slowly at first. But advances in computer speed and cloud computing and the availability of large data sets led to rapid advances in the field of artificial intelligence. Now, anyone can access programs like ChatGPT, which is capable of having text-based conversations with users, and organizations are using AI for everything from developing driverless cars to reading radiographs to setting airline prices.
The potential uses for AI are exciting—as well as concerning. Consider these pros and cons of using artificial intelligence in education.
Five cons of AI in education
- Bias. Artificial intelligence is only as knowledgeable as the information it has been trained on. If a program like ChatGPT is trained on biased information, then when a student asks it a question, they could get a biased response, which can perpetuate stereotypes and social inequalities. If a biased AI tool is used for grading, students could receive low grades based on their race or gender.2
- Errors. In addition to bias, artificial intelligence may generate misinformation. The data that AI draws from may have errors, be outdated, or spread misinformation. Neither students nor teachers should assume that information provided by AI is accurate.3
- Cheating. Students can use ChatGPT to write entire essays, answer quiz questions, or do their homework. Ironically, now there are AI programs that can detect AI writing to help teachers determine if their students are cheating. But sometimes those programs may falsely identify a student’s original work as plagiarism.
- Isolation. If students interact with a software program more than with a teacher, they can begin to feel disconnected and isolated. Their motivation and engagement may decrease, which could lead to an increase in dropout rates.4
- Jobs. Artificial intelligence has the potential to be a powerful learning tool. Some teachers worry that AI will replace them.
Five pros of AI in education
- Assistance. Teachers who’ve tried AI have found that it can help make their jobs easier, from coming up with lesson plans to generating student project ideas to creating quizzes. With assistance from artificial intelligence, teachers can gain more time to spend with their students.3
- Speed. If a student feels “stuck” while working on an assignment, artificial intelligence programs can provide immediate, helpful assistance if a teacher or caregiver isn’t available. For instance, a student can ask, “How do I solve for X?” to be reminded of the steps for solving an equation. A student can even ask, “What are some effective strategies for improving my essay writing?” and ChatGPT can offer advice and resources right away.
- Individualization. AI programs can help individualize learning opportunities for students. For instance, ChatGPT can quickly and easily translate materials to another language, making it easier for students who speak another language to understand assignments. ChatGPT can also revise materials so they are suitable for varying grade levels and tailor projects to suit students’ skills and interests.
- Context. In a 2023 TED Talk, Sal Khan, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, shared an example of an AI tutor that helped a student understand the symbolism of the green light in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The student asked the AI tutor to act as if it were the character Jay Gatsby and answer her question, “Why do you keep staring at the green light?” The AI tutor answered as Gatsby, giving her a response that was not only accurate, but elegant and contextual.5 Future students could use AI to talk to Anne Frank about her life, to Marie Curie about her scientific discoveries, and to Shakespeare about his plays.
- Personalization. Artificial intelligence can also personalize student learning. By analyzing student performance data, AI-powered tools can determine which students need support to improve their learning experience, and the best ways to help those students.6
Balancing the advantages of artificial intelligence in education with its potential drawbacks requires careful planning and consideration, as well as ongoing evaluation. AI can empower educators, accelerate learning, and personalize educational experiences, quickly and easily. On the other hand, the risks of bias, misinformation, and student isolation demand careful scrutiny. Teachers must explore the potential of AI in order to be effective advocates for their students and themselves.
Be prepared to lead the classroom of the future by earning a degree in education from Walden University. With an MS in Education (MSEd) or a BS in Elementary Education (BSEE) degree, you can become an effective, engaging educator who uses technology to improve your students’ lives. Walden’s online teaching degree programs empower educators to gain new skills that they can put to use in the classroom to help their students thrive.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering Master of Science in Education (MSEd) and Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (BSEE) degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
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