AI and education

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The latest developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are having definite and significant effects on our society, especially in education. Society is facing a fundamental question – what does it mean to say that a person knows and how does one know? Does one learn facts or how to get information from digital media? How can one trust these facts? Answering these questions will set the agenda for our educational institutions.

Critical thinking should replace memorizing formulas. The meaning and relevance of a problem or topic may be more important than a “correct” answer given only because the student knows the formula. Axiology (the study of value systems) must be part of every student’s education. Life-long learning should be an essential skill as specific skills will become redundant and no longer be a guarantee of continuous employment.

The educational requirements in an age of AI cannot be directed at a specific occupation or future job – these are replaced at a pace too rapid to develop specific skills. Thus, education must be directed at the individual student with the aim of developing inquisitive and critical skills that are flexible and yet significant for our society. Effective and appropriate AI in the classroom can help deliver what is needed. But, as many misuses of the internet applications have shown, there are troubling entries that give wrong or misleading results. Thus, teachers must become students and students teachers in a close symbiosis that leads to greater participation in an open society.

To gain full benefit of AI, there must be direct interaction among all in the classroom. This will mean smaller class sizes. And the technology must be able to meet the new needs. Instead, teachers and students will be in contact with the entire internet with its many applications, sources of information and value to students.

And when should these changes occur? Now! Adopting the potential of AI will take some time, but a beginning can be made immediately. Most teenagers are familiar with internet technologies. The issue will be to direct this knowledge to a positive, rewarding learning experience. However, a failure to develop the best opportunities for students will have consequences beyond the classroom.

Our society is facing a major shift, even greater than the introduction of writing or the steam engine. We must be prepared for this world of much promise and great challenge.