Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Education

Gaining an understanding of AI and generative AI in teaching and learning

What is artificial intelligence?

You may have encountered artificial intelligence (AI) tools already but might not have noticed. AI technology is used in a wide range of applications. For instance, it’s used by online shopping retailers to provide personalised recommendations or by search engines to improve their features and experience. Smartphones use machine learning to provide timely or more relevant services to a given situation. Real-time video communication tools are exploring AI use to enhance the experience, and the use of AI is even being built into autonomous cars. These are all forms of artificial intelligence, some more obvious than others. However, with tools like ChatGPT, Google Bard and the development of large language models (LLM), it’s important for staff to know what AI is, where they’re likely to experience it, and how it might influence or impact them as educators, namely in relation to academic integrity and assessment.

Situations for using AI are vastly varied, and a plethora of tools are available for general use. Whether it’s a tool to help with writing, performing speech-to-text, helping with stock market analysis, or even providing you with gift ideas, there’s an AI for that.

The rise of generative AI

The use of generative AI, including ChatGPT, in education has gained significant exposure in the media due to its potential to transform traditional teaching methods. The potential benefits of generative AI in education, such as increased student engagement and improved learning outcomes, have also been highlighted in media coverage. However, there have also been concerns raised about the ethical implications of using AI in education, including issues around data privacy, bias, and the impact on employment for human educators. Overall, the media coverage of generative AI in education has sparked important conversations about the future of learning and the role of technology in education.

Other tools and our digital assistant

Some tools align themselves with educational scenarios better than others. Within the sector, the use of AI is already evident; from chatbots and digital assistants to adaptive learning platforms and predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to help educators better understand and meet the needs of their learners. At the University of Plymouth, we’ve begun to explore the potential of AI to support students and staff with on-demand information using our WAVE digital assistant. This project is currently being piloted, but our initial digital assistants provide information to students regarding our careers service and support our tutors using our educational technologies.