Teaching & Learning


Artificial intelligence and education

Prof Rose Luckin, UCL Faculty of Education and Society, shares how we can embrace artificial and human intelligence to drive the way we think about assessment.

27 April 2023

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Artificial and human intelligence are not the same

What we must focus on in this situation is that artificial and human intelligence are not the same: ChatGPT does not understand a word it generates nor does it know about the context to which these words apply, and understanding is crucial to what we're doing in higher education. Our intelligence also includes metacognition – self-understanding self-regulation, emotional intelligence, contextual intelligence. Critically, it includes understanding what knowledge is, where it comes from and what good evidence is.

Use, understand and change education systems to embrace it

But we may have to adapt, as we have done many times as new technology has appeared. The three impacts of AI on Education (and training) can be summarized as ‘use it, understand it, change education systems to embrace it.’ There is no need to panic, but there is a need to change and the best way to do that is to see the opportunities. We can teach students to use AI to make them smarter and more effective as learners; to enjoy teaching and learning more by using AI to do routine tasks but also experiment and have fun with AI. For instance, a number of British companies have technology that enables students to have personalised learning journeys and to help teachers with automated marking, for example; this can be a key part of preparing our young people for the modern world. It really is an incredible moment to develop education and assessment systems that will enable people to leverage AI to increase their human capacity, their intelligence their knowledge, their ability to impact on the world.

There are some things we can't afford to ignore: this is game changing technology.

There are some things we can't afford to ignore: this is game changing technology. The genie cannot be put back put back in the bottle – the tech behind ChatGPT will soon be everywhere, including Word. We need to prepare people for it. It's much more than a tool for cheating, and retrograde steps (like going back to stressful in-person exams assessing things that AI can often do for us) not only fail to prepare students to engage with the technology, they miss opportunities to focus on what they really need. Right now that includes helping students of all ages who have been disrupted by the pandemic but also moving away from a knowledge-based pedagogy that is already out of date.

Related resources 

There is a rapidly growing number of publications about AI but it is worth exploring what has been said up to this point, before it seized media attention as much of the thinking is already mature. Empowering educators to be AI-ready is an open-access article (via UCL Discovery) that focuses on 'AI Readiness' for educators, and explains a range of different AIs in different contexts; the open-access book AI in Learning: Designing the Future is aimed at teachers but apart from being a practical resource for all teachers, has a section focussing on higher education. Chris Dede's 'Harvard Edcast' (audio/transcript) on Educating in a World of Artificial Intelligence also draws on many years of reflection, research and experience, as does my talk (video) on AI and Education: The Reality and the Potential.

Download the video script

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