Artificial Intelligence in education

We use artificial intelligence in our every day lives — so why not take advantage of it in schools? In this blog, we discuss the benefits, drawbacks and the future of artificial intelligence in education.

November 17 2023 by

Mat Pullen

Hannah Hamilton

Student using ChatGPT

In the digital age, artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming various aspects of our lives, and education is no exception. AI holds the promise of revolutionizing the way we learn, teach and administer educational programs. There is no denying that there are potentially many benefits, but with that comes some careful considerations too.

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence — computerized decision making, problem solving and content generation — takes many forms. AI is behind tools like Siri, self-driving cars, security software, ChatGPT, customer service chatbots, and image generators and editors. The Turing test, attributed to Alan Turing, tested computers’ ability to mimic humans beyond human detection — you could argue we’ve reached that point with technology like ChatGPT.

The connecting thread between these applications of AI is this: AI is a tool to do the tasks that humans don’t want to or simply can’t reasonably do. Humans could search for an answer to their question instead of asking Siri, or respond to a customer’s questions. But AI is better equipped to digest large amounts of data or solve complex logic problems.

Since AI is a tool — and an effective one at that — it’s not going anywhere. Many of us use it in our daily lives, and students are no exception. Schools need to quickly accept that their students are going to increasingly use AI in their lives as it gets more sophisticated; otherwise, educators and administration will find themselves falling behind to their students’ detriment.

In this blog, we’ll talk about AI in education, including its benefits, drawbacks and future.

Benefits of AI in education

AI can act as a companion for teachers by doing some of their work for them — especially helpful considering the large workload teachers deal with and global teacher shortages. Here are some ways AI can enhance the classroom.

Personalized learning

AI has the capability to tailor educational content to the individual needs of each student. By analyzing student performance, AI algorithms can adapt learning materials, pace and difficulty levels, ensuring that students receive a customized learning experience. AI can also help make lessons more accessible, such as with live captions on videos or streams.

Enhanced efficiency

Administrative tasks, grading and data analysis can be automated with AI, freeing educators from time-consuming duties. This efficiency allows teachers to allocate more time to interactive teaching, feedback and mentorship. For some teachers, this can mean more time for them after school to focus on their own lives or other tasks.

Access to vast resources

AI-driven platforms can provide students with access to a wealth of educational content and resources, from interactive simulations to online libraries. This expanded resource pool enriches the learning experience and promotes self-directed learning.

Immediate feedback

AI can provide students with instantaneous and detailed feedback on their performance, allowing them to understand their strengths and weaknesses. This timely feedback enhances comprehension and learning outcomes. Teachers can also use this feedback to know what to focus on in future lessons.

Predictive analytics

Educational institutions can leverage AI to predict which students may be at risk of underperforming or dropping out. Early intervention based on AI-generated insights can help support struggling students, or even adapt resources to meet learner needs.

Important considerations

While the benefits of AI in education are significant, it's crucial to approach AI implementation thoughtfully. What areas should be considered prior to implementing AI in education?

Data privacy and security

Educational institutions must prioritize data privacy and security. Collecting and analyzing large volumes of student data raises concerns about protecting sensitive information. Robust data protection measures and compliance with relevant regulations, such as GDPR or FERPA, are essential.

Quality control

The quality of AI-driven educational content and assessments varies. It's crucial to evaluate the rigor and accuracy of AI applications and ensure they align with educational objectives. AI is still relatively in its infancy and not all tools will be appropriate for the classroom. Since AI is trained based on human input, this can introduce content that should not be provided to students.

Balancing automation with human interaction

While AI offers efficiency, it cannot replace the invaluable human interaction and mentorship provided by educators. Striking a balance between technology and personal interaction is crucial for a well-rounded education.

Bias and fairness

AI algorithms can inherit biases from the data they are trained on. Educational institutions must work to identify and rectify algorithmic bias to ensure fair and equitable learning opportunities for all students.

Professional development

Teachers and staff may require training to effectively integrate AI into the curriculum and educational practices. Professional development should be a priority to ensure that educators can harness AI's full potential and not increase the gaps between those that understand technology’s impact and those new to embracing it.

Lesson plans and academic integrity

AI can write essays, solve complex math problems and even generate computer code — all features that make it easier for students to cheat and harder to verify student competency. This means lesson plans and evaluations have to be changed to address this. This is just another reason of many why teachers and administrators need to embrace AI; teaching it and using it effectively will change education as we know it — maybe even for the better.

The future of AI in education

AI evolves rapidly, so it’s difficult to predict exactly how it will be used in education years from now. To reiterate, we already know it can be used to:

  • Cater lessons to students of varying skill levels
  • Write outlines, essays or lesson plans
  • Analyze data to predict a student’s performance
  • Provide knowledge tailored to a specific student or use case more efficiently than a student may be able to find themselves
  • Consume and digest large amounts of data and take action on that data
  • Provide immediate feedback to a teacher and/or student
  • Help accommodate students with disabilities to improve their learning experience

AI’s performance of these tasks is not likely to go away. The US Department of Education recently published “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning,” made these recommendations for the future of AI in schools:

  • Leverage automation to advance learning outcomes while protecting human decision-making and judgment
  • Interrogate the underlying data quality in AI models to ensure fair and unbiased pattern recognition and decision-making in educational applications
  • Enable examination of how particular AI technologies…may increase or undermine equity for students
  • Take steps to safeguard and advance equity, including providing for human checks and balances and limiting any AI systems and tools that undermine equity

Goodnotes, an innovative note-taking application for iPad, recently released a report on the considerations around the use of generative AI in education.

How can Jamf help?

Jamf Safe Internet, a web filtering and content filtering solution, supports educational institutions by preventing access to AI technologies if they do not want their students accessing them.

Jamf Safe Internet helps with:

  • Filtering inappropriate content by blocking access to inappropriate or harmful websites and content, including generative AI like Hugging Face and OpenAI.
  • Protecting against threats like malware and phishing attacks that target educational institutions by blocking known malicious domains and sites.
  • Enforcing safe internet policies by allowing schools to define and enforce their technology policies, helping students and staff use the internet responsibly and in alignment with their policies.
  • Monitoring and reporting by tracking web usage, detecting policy violations and generating reports to assess the effectiveness of their web filtering policies.

The benefits of AI in education are transformative, but careful planning and consideration of these important factors are essential for its successful integration. As AI continues to evolve, educational institutions should stay informed about advancements and make informed decisions to enhance the learning experience for students. AI, when thoughtfully harnessed, holds the potential to revolutionize education for generations to come.

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