Education has always been about flexibility and adapting to the ever-changing world. As K-12 and higher education adapted to new technologies and teaching methods in 2020 and the following years, this was highlighted more than ever. Now, as AI becomes more prevalent in business operations and the daily lives of everyday citizens, it has inevitably found its way into education, most notably with the November 2022 launch of the free AI tool, ChatGPT. In our news roundup this week, we take a look at how AI is currently being used in schools and the potential it has for the future.
Strayer University Puts AI to Use Helping Students Virtually
A major advantage of AI is its plethora of capabilities, many of which are still being discovered. Strayer University in Washington D.C. first turned to AI several years ago to help support students with the creation of a virtual assistant called Irving. Joe Schaefer, Chief Transformation Officer at Strategic Education, parent company of Strayer University, said Irving “handles complex student requests. It is not an FAQ bot; it’s deeply integrated with our IT systems. It’s designed and developed by a team of technologists, student support personnel, and behavioral psychologists to answer complex conversations in multi-step conversations.”
In its first three years in existence, Irving handled over one million conversations with students. Students expressed satisfaction with the ability to get help 24 hours a day, as well as the convenience of asking a chatbot instead of making a phone call. In the years since its creation, Irving continues to learn and improve through each chat experience.
You can learn more about Strayer University’s innovative use of AI here.
Despite Concerns, ChatGPT Brings Potential Benefits
Across the country, many high schools are banning the use of ChatGPT on campus and on school devices. Some college professors are also beginning to act, enforcing restrictions against students using AI tools to write essays. But following the notion, “if you can’t beat them, join them”, some experts are beginning to embrace and promote the benefits of ChatGPT. Most importantly, these experts see an opportunity to teach both students and educators how to use AI as a learning tool. For example, ChatGPT can help make texts more accessible for students with disabilities or who do not consider English their first language.
In a statement to the Washington Post, OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT said, “We look forward to working with educators on useful solutions, and other ways to help teachers and students benefit from artificial intelligence.”
You can read the full scoop from Forbes here.
How AI Can Change the Way We Teach (For the Better)
Any new change is scary, but without change we deny ourselves the ability to truly thrive. With that in mind, ChatGPT opens new doors, enabling more opportunities for learning and even streamlining teacher duties. Despite fears that it may worsen cheating, one counter argument is that ChatGPT lacks the ability to truly think, something educators may use to their advantage when teaching critical thinking. It can write an essay, but oftentimes the information is wrong, and students will need to review and assess for accuracy. Educators can teach students how to use features of AI to their advantage while also teaching students how to think for themselves. The question is: how?
The LA Times discusses rethinking current teaching processes and adding more focus on a final result through multi-draft steps here.