AI in schools often both a curse and a blessing

February 3, 2024

Educational scientist at Malmö University calls for regulation despite all the benefit

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is also on the rise in schools, not always to the delight of teachers and parents. But AI tools can offer solutions to many problems in schools, says Thom Axelsson from Malmö University (https://mau.se/en/). Individual students could be given AI-adapted tasks with just the right level of difficulty, while the teacher is busy with others who need personal attention. AI could also reduce the administrative burden on teachers, improve teaching and save schools time and money at the same time.

An excessive influence

However, to ensure that the use of AI does not get out of hand, the state must establish guidelines for both ethics and the market. In addition to an ethical risk, there is also a market risk with AI. If a market-dominating AI company enters the world of schools, a school or even an entire community could become dependent on the systems of technology giants Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

This could lead to a reduction in transparency and external actors gaining too much influence over schools. On the other hand, teachers would have new options at their disposal, which they could use in their work to precisely adapt their lessons or set grades. Companies can use the same data for unwanted resale if they are not regulated.

Regulation with a delay

“Regulations need to be in place at all levels, but especially at EU and national level first. It has a lot to do with transparency and it must be clear where decisions are made. However, I suspect that AI will be used first and only regulated later,” explains Axelsson.

It is obvious that AI is helpful in special education, for example. It could help to create a level playing field for pupils who need extra help. At the same time, there is a risk of surveillance in breach of data protection laws if AI tools collect data. In addition, “something interpersonal is lost when you only have contact with a machine. There is a caring part of school and education that can be lost with all forms of digitalization. The social part of school could be forgotten even more through AI.”

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