The Impact of Generative AI on Education and Learning

Historically, technological advances and tools – from the abacus to the internet – have been instrumental in our learning. In response, we have adapted and integrated these resources into our educational systems. Today, the explosion of generative AI adds an unprecedented advantage to the mix; however, its incredible potential also requires that we proceed with caution.

With the rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E•2, which are revolutionizing the way we learn and create, it is important to question the aspects in which our learning methods must evolve and, equally, the ways they should remain the same. 

Read on to discover more about the impact generative AI could have on education and learning.

Learning with generative AI

Generative AI carries transformative potential in the education industry, with applications that range from simple content generation to personalized curricula tailored to an individual student's needs.

Similar to using a calculator instead of mental math, generative AI can produce quality outputs in a fraction of the time, without the mental labor once needed. Now, it is up to educational systems to adapt to the new and advanced tools at their disposal.

How might we see generative AI help strengthen our educational resources? 

Content generation

Established companies are already using generative AI to create content in service of existing core offerings – language app Duolingo is using GPT-3 for French grammar corrections and to generate items for their English tests, while skills intelligence platform Workera has used the program to generate question items for their assessments.

Course material generation

Generative AI has the capacity to produce scripts for video lectures or podcasts, streamlining multimedia content creation for online courses. NOLEJ, for example, is launching an e-learning capsule containing an interactive video, glossary, practice, and summary for a target topic, all of which can be generated in just three minutes. As such, the availability and affordability of offered courses may increase.

Accommodating learning disabilities

Powered by generative AI, Speechify offers text-to-speech and speech-to-text generation. These tools are especially useful for those with learning disabilities like dyslexia or ADHD, which can manifest in difficulty concentrating. When a format like reading may be too hard to focus on, generative AI can convert content into more digestible formats that better align with the student’s learning style.

Acknowledging generative AI use

While education platforms have already started adopting generative AI, its very use within a teaching model must be addressed. Students may benefit from a better grasp of how technology works and use it as a tool to explore the possibilities and limits of generative AI as an information resource.

Generative AI in education still has its limits

The power and potential of generative AI are indisputable, but it still remains susceptible to error in both data and ethics. This means that safeguarding generative AI tools against improper use must be the utmost priority for educators and supporting staff today.

Restrictions are still needed

Parameters are still needed to help guide responsible and trustable generative AI use. Tools like ChatGPT have answered math problems wrong while responding with high certainty; in fact, the app’s own CEO has warned users against utilizing the app for anything important – the accuracy is still not there.

Additionally, restrictions should be put in place for younger users, as well as for general use in academic settings. Certain requests may be inappropriate for the workplace, output racially biased responses, or even produce a malicious response despite the original question not being posed with malicious intent.

Ethics must be defined

Recently, ChatGPT has been used to critique and question the emerging uses of generative AI in academia: a Princeton student-created app GPTZero to identify potential AI essay plagiarism using ChatGPT, and scholars have experimented with publishing academic papers produced by the text generator, which would undermine existing academic procedure if accepted. 

The lines separating how and when a generative AI model can be ethically used are still blurred and are only beginning to be defined. We must continue to question the extent to which generative AI can help formulate an idea or even execute an entire project.

Critical thinking is underused

With the input-and-output style of generative AI, critical thinking can easily be taken out of the equation. This is one of the most important human inputs in any scenario, but especially in education and learning.

As one response, parent Ben Thompson has suggested the concept of Zero Trust Homework, which places its focus on evaluating and fleshing out wrong answers. According to Thompson, “the real skill in the homework assignment will be in verifying the answers the system churns out — learning how to be a verifier and an editor, instead of a regurgitator.”

The human brain is still the most important tool

No matter how developed our generative AI becomes, we must preserve people’s ability to reason – especially in the realm of education, which relies heavily on discourse and the exchange of elaborate, big-picture ideas. Though it may seem like AI is taking over, industries have never been so dependent on human critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving, as they are today.

While our generative AI solutions become more complex, so have our problems, which continue to require a level of analysis that surpasses the existing capabilities of any AI. Such solution-building will always require the human brain, which can strategize and evaluate information holistically.

Adapting and evolving with AI

Ultimately, it is our ability to adapt and evolve that makes us so effective at pursuing new technological frontiers. It is vital that the entire human brain is not outsourced to AI, especially in key decision-making areas where you want to have agency and high critical thinking.

With apps like Skippet, we are encouraged to progress with AI as a powerful tool to make our lives easier, allowing us to achieve more by closing the gap between our critical thinking and how the computer can take that thinking to the next level.

Interested in harnessing the power of Skippet? Join our waitlist today to be notified about our upcoming Beta launch.

Check out Skippet in action.