An Insight into AI-An insight into AI-Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
31 October, 2023

An Insight into AI

An Insight into AI-An insight into AI-AI - FB and LI

You may have seen the launch of the new INSIGHTS magazine from Nord Anglia Education last week and if so, I hope you have found the content both engaging and insightful.  As a computer scientist, I was particularly interested in Sir Anthony Seldon’s article The Fourth Education Revolution which focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it is likely to impact education and specifically educators/teachers within schools.

The article raises critical points about the need for a transformation in education to adapt to the 21st century. It emphasises that our current education system is still rooted in 20th-century practices, despite the rapid advancements in technology. The call for a "fourth education revolution" that leverages AI and technology is timely.

Sir Anthony rightly points out that AI can perform many tasks more efficiently than humans and suggests that we should harness this technology to complement human teaching rather than replace it. This approach could lead to personalised learning experiences and address issues like social mobility, heavy teacher workloads, and student mental health.

The article also highlights the historical evolution of education, from learning by observation to organised schooling, and the invention of the printing press, leading to the current model. This historical context underscores the need for a paradigm shift.

The idea that AI will enhance not only cognitive intelligence but also creativity, interpersonal skills, character, and leadership capabilities is promising. This holistic approach aligns with the broader goal of education, which is to develop well-rounded individuals.

The call for educators to take the initiative in shaping the future of education is essential. It acknowledges that teachers, who understand the dynamics of teaching and learning, should play a pivotal role in designing and implementing these changes.

In conclusion, Sir Anthony effectively argues for a fundamental shift in education by integrating AI and technology while maintaining the central role of teachers. This transformation is vital to meet the demands of the 21st century and provide students with the skills and experiences they need to thrive in an AI-driven world.

An insightful summary of the article, right?  All the more impressive when considering that the text in bold above was generated entirely by ChatGPT, an AI platform which can process content and produce output at remarkable speeds, in this instance following my prompt for it to summarise Sir Anthony’s article.    The output above is impressive, but can also be further tweaked by requesting a mildly critical view of the article.  This resulted in a summary which included a final paragraph stating that:

“In essence, while AI and technology can enhance education, they should complement rather than replace human educators. The article's vision of a "fourth education revolution" seems to underappreciate the human element in education, the importance of privacy and data protection, and the potential societal consequences of an overly technologically driven system. A balanced approach that combines the strengths of AI with the expertise of teachers and acknowledges the limitations of technology is essential for creating a truly effective and ethical education system in the 21st century”,

I also asked it to outright disagree with the content, with ChatGPT concluding that:

“In summary, the article's vision of a "fourth education revolution" that heavily relies on AI and sidelines traditional teaching methods is misguided. It underestimates the complexities of education, the limitations of AI, and the irreplaceable role of human educators. A more balanced approach that leverages technology as a supplementary tool, while preserving the core values of education, is both more realistic and respectful of the essential role that teachers play in shaping the minds and characters of future generations.”

My initial comments on Sir Anthony’s article included the point that AI still needs a person to enter the parameters of the search query for creating lesson plans or to mark student work, and this is affirmed above.  Yes, the system can produce answers, but these must be guided by a human, and the output can be skewed by human input bias. As with any thought piece, there is no wrong or right answer and I’m sure that within our teaching and parent community, there will be some who agree with the initial summary, some who agree with the sceptical response, and others who align with the third, critical response. 

So who is to say which is correct?  It can’t be AI, because AI needs guidance on how it should think – at least for now.  Inside schools, teachers – humans – educate by using their imagination, creativity, social skills, knowledge of subject and human interactions over time.  Teachers are facilitators, experts, guides, sociologists, psychologists, entertainers, questioners and in loco parentis.  Most importantly, they won’t stop working in the absence of electricity (although the absence of hot coffee might impact on performance!)  Over several decades we’ve seen multiple iterations of “the next generation of technology” but none, as yet, have made that step into true artificial intelligence.

Sir Anthony may well be right, that in the near future AI will become significantly more intuitive in developing relationships, character, and perhaps even self-knowledge – although I’m not entirely sure that sentient robots are the best thing for the world right now – so I reiterate my stance that we should wait and see.  I for one, as a school leader and computing specialist, am very excited about the future of technology, and I hope that the teaching community will embrace the positive opportunities which may, or may not, be presented by AI in the future.

by Diane Vaughan, Principal NAIS Pudong.