The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) can reshape the education landscape, and the consequences, if left unaddressed, could affect millions of students.
Peak education unions have issued a warning, urging policymakers to address the emerging challenges associated with AI in the education sector.
A federal parliamentary probe into the use of AI in education has revealed severe concerns among teachers.
Educators report increased workload pressures as AI technologies become more prevalent in classrooms.
The use of generative AI, such as ChatGPT, has the potential to streamline administrative tasks and enhance teaching, but it also introduces compliance burdens.
Teachers are worried that they will spend more time as “AI enforcement cops” rather than focusing on creating engaging lessons.
The Independent Education Union (IEUA) warns that while schools are eager to prioritize safety training regarding AI usage, much of the pressure to manage these new responsibilities falls on teachers.
This mounting pressure contributes to high burnout rates and chronic staff shortages, creating a challenging environment for educators.
Emerging Threats: Addressing AI Misuse in Education
The concerns regarding AI in education extend beyond workload issues. The inquiry was informed of the first complaint involving school students using artificially generated deep-fake pornography to bully their peers.
This raises alarms over the misuse of AI technologies in schools. The eSafety Commissioner has also warned that teachers will increasingly become targets for such malicious activities.
Adopting AI in Australian schools is not uniform, and high-fee-paying schools in metropolitan areas are taking the lead by developing their “AI academies.”
While promising in terms of preparing students for the digital future, this development raises concerns about the digital literacy gap between public and private school students.
Access to AI software, hardware, and infrastructure has become a triple threat to achieving equity in education regarding generative AI.
The pandemic exposed significant inequalities in infrastructure across Australian schools, particularly in remote areas.
Some schools needed help with primary internet access, making introducing AI-based tools even more challenging. Addressing these infrastructure disparities is vital to ensure that AI is used equitably across all schools.
A draft plan on the use of AI in schools suggests that there might be a lift on the year-long ban on students’ use of generative AI next year.
Education Minister Jason Clare’s meeting with state and territory education ministers emphasizes the need to embrace AI in education.
However, it is imperative that any implementation is carried out thoughtfully and addresses the concerns raised by educators and stakeholders.
The Tech Council of Australia highlights the economic potential of AI, stating that it could generate up to $115 billion into Australia’s economy by 2023 if appropriately used. The readiness and willingness of the education sector to adopt and foster AI technology will play a crucial role in realizing this opportunity.
The federal government’s AI inquiry received over 500 submissions, many of which called for introducing an Australian Artificial Intelligence Act to regulate rapidly evolving digital programs.
The need for responsible AI governance is clear, as it will help ensure that AI is used to benefit students and educators without compromising safety or exacerbating inequalities.