Artificial intelligence reaches the classroom and reconfigures education

Artificial intelligence -AI- with its potential and risks, forces us to rethink various spheres of life in society. One of the areas that worries the most is education: how could the irruption of machines, robots and all kinds of intelligent systems change life in the classroom? Should students freely use the GPT chat to do their work? Will robots ever replace real teachers at the helm of courses or is this just a nightmare?

Faced with so many questions, the answers tend to waver between the prohibition of the application of new technologies in educational environments or the unrestricted authorization of their use. Although there are gray areas, at present the discussions between the apocalyptic -pessimistic with respect to technological change- and integrated -optimistic and enthusiastic- positions that the Italian semiotician Umberto Eco proposed as a formula in the mid-’60s seem to be reissued.

In France, the Sciences Po university was a pioneer by prohibiting its students from using GPT Chat in the classroom. From the perspective of the institution, its use is considered a copy that can lead to severe sanctions and the expulsion of the person who uses it without permission from the teacher. There will be exceptions in those cases in which it is the teacher who enables its use.

AI quiz

The tool solves in seconds very cumbersome tasks related to the search and classification of information, and presenting the material with a more or less drinkable writing. In January, The same chatbot caused a stir in the US when professors at the University of Minnesota and the University of Pennsylvania put the AI ​​through the same tests as their students. After answering 95 multiple choice questions and 12 writing questions, which represented four exams, the grade obtained by the machine that became a student was a C+. It’s not too high, but it’s approved.

The AI ​​can compose poems and speeches, compare texts and complete research papers. There are technologies that are increasingly adept at performing tasks that perfectly imitate humans. If the Encarta multimedia encyclopedia and Wikipedia sparked a revolution by enabling access to previously unattainable information for students, GPT Chat could be the next game changer.

What happens in Argentina?

emmanuel iarussi He is a Conicet researcher in the AI ​​Laboratory of the Torcuato Di Tella University. consulted by Page 12comments that conversations with other teachers about the application of bots in their classes are already commonplace and shares juicy debates.

“Two weeks into the course and we realized that the students were using the GPT Chat for almost everything. There is three great challenges that presents to teaching: we must decide what is worth teaching, how we are going to teach and how we are going to evaluate to see if they have actually learned content or not”. Machines are especially useful for automated tasks. So that, eventually, controls could be strengthened regarding the behaviors and behaviors of the students. Thus, an area of ​​control, such as educational institutions, is reinforced by highly effective technological tools that redouble efforts to preserve order and discipline.

Iarussi raises some lines to guide the debate: “the fact that calculators exist does not imply that you do not have to learn to add. That’s why, in terms of content, we do not know very well what should be changed or readapted. It’s still too early to take risks.” The specter of technological dependency awaits just around the corner.

In relation to how combined strategies can be proposed, The irruption of increasingly sophisticated technologies forces teachers to rethink pedagogical planning. Access to information is no longer a problem – the Internet has circumvented this difficulty – and the selection of that information will not generate any effort with current programs that identify meaningful data. So: Where do the efforts that teachers must propose and students carry out for the learning process to be fulfilled lie?

When faced with practical work, one option could consist of asking students to present their own version and one developed by the GPT chat, compare them and then extract some moral from that. “There are teachers of some subjects who propose to students to solve the tasks with GPT Chat and without the chat. This is how the use is bleached and it is not prohibited ”, warns the specialist.

How to take exam?

Perhaps the evaluation is the most problematic aspect. Students can go to the bathroom with their cell phone during an exam, consult the chat and return with the answer resolved. It is true: before they could do the same by sneaking away with a machete; but billions of pieces of data are now available. It is possible to query an infinite library. “The axis is to keep artificial intelligence away from the exams and somehow guarantee that students handle the content. It is absurd to ban it completely, because it can really improve the way we work. At least in careers related to computing or programming”, highlights the Conicet researcher.

The problem is not just copying but doing it wrong. The robots, in many cases, are trained with Internet databases and, therefore, with information that is not checked. Students could trust the artificial oracle, place the answer given on a test, and get a lousy result. The chat does not have the ability to check; Although it offers more calibrated answers when the queries are in English, the same does not happen when one applies Spanish or another language.

The precision in the answers provided by artificial intelligences are not 100 percent correct, but is it a long way to go before they are? That’s what machine learning is all about: training the algorithm until it approaches perfection.

The end of “human teachers”?

Beyond all the unanswered questions, there is one of particular concern: what if machines, which are already excellent at aggregating and classifying data, not only replace tedious, automated tasks, but are rather able to replace those that involve higher doses of creativity? There are already robots that work as nurses in US hospitals that can create their own melodies, or that provide school support with increasingly better calibrated applications. How long until they also replace flesh and blood teachers?

A priori, there would be no reason to believe that teaching is a profession exempt from being replaced. “There is an emotional part of teaching that cannot be easily replaced. These days we asked Chat GPT what jobs they thought could disappear in the future and within that top 20 were human teachers”, highlights the researcher Emmanuel Iarussi. Sure, human teachers asked the machines about the future of people; but not about the future of machines that, for now, depend on people.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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