AI increasingly used by students to do their school work and many teachers can’t tell

Posted: 21st August 2023

Source: Sky News

The survey of 500 secondary school teachers revealed that 41% believe there needs to be better regulation of AI with 31% wanting the government to step in to police its use.

The majority of teachers believe students are using Artificial Intelligence apps to do their work for them, according to a new study.

A survey by education tech firm RM Technology found that two thirds of teachers believe they are regularly receiving work written by AI, with around one in ten teachers (9%) admitting they can’t tell the difference between work completed by their pupil and AI programs.

The survey of 500 secondary school teachers revealed that 41% believe there needs to be better regulation of AI with 31% wanting the government to step in to police its use.

Mel Parker, a former headteacher who now works as a consultant for RM Technology said: “There definitely needs to be government regulation, especially from a safeguarding point of view.”

And she believes better training is needed in the use of rapidly developing tech.

“They need to know how they can talk to students about good use of AI, what is appropriate use in the classroom, how can they learn from it? How can they get better understanding of concepts – actually what is cheating and what is good practice?”

She said there is concern that pupils can use AI to cheat, especially as more than a third of teachers surveyed admit pupils know more about AI than they do.

“Teachers haven’t been equipped with what they need in terms of pulling together that understanding. So they need that support so that they can spot it.”

‘I see it as a positive’

The concerns of teachers were not shared by students – a mirror survey of pupils found that 68% believe they’re getting better grades as a result of AI and 49% say excluding AI would have a negative impact on their learning.

Miya Crofts, a 17-year-old sixth former at Greenwood Academy in Birmingham, is a regular user of AI.

She said: “In terms of education I use it a lot for online homework, revision tool, so if I need any additional support and I don’t want to ask my teacher or it’s something that she can’t give me it is available whenever I need it on AI programs.

“I see it as a positive because it’s available whenever you need…however, I feel like some students might become too reliant upon it and it kind of takes away your own independence.

“You can ask questions and you get instant feedback, instant answer… you’re not really thinking for yourself.”

But fellow pupil Tito Thomson O’Reilly said he tends not to use AI for schoolwork. “It removes a social interaction from the person.

“It’s just something where someone can ask a bot, a little robot a question, and all you’re getting is an immediate answer, but there isn’t a sense of empathy. There’s not sense of teamwork, it’s just a straightforward answer.”

Safeguarding concerns

There are also concerns about online safety, with an increasing number of pupils using programs that they know more about than adults.

Digital safeguarding consultant Charlotte Ainsley said: “I think it’s important to recognise that we’re using AI all the time already.

“So anytime that you access social media or any content it’s generally driven by AI and certainly some of the algorithms and some of the content that you see will be exposing children to harmful content, so if they sign up to a certain site and service and lie about their age, and we know that lots of children do, they will see content that is potentially age inappropriate for them.

“I think government have a really strong role to play in regulating AI. We don’t want to be back in the same place that we were in with social media”.

A government spokesperson said: “Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform education, which is why we have launched a call to evidence to learn more about both the benefits and the risks that it could bring.

“More widely, we are taking quick steps to establish a regulatory framework for AI across the UK as set out through the White Paper to make sure we have the right guardrails for driving safe, responsible AI innovation.”

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