Two schoolchildren using an iPad

How should AI be used in education?

Yesterday, as part of the 10th anniversary of London Tech Week, the government has issued a call for evidence on how artificial intelligence can be used to transform educate in a positive way.

The government has been pushing recently to make the most out of the ever-developing technology, and now Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has issued the call for evidence that will see the government seeking views on risks, ethical considerations, and training for education workers. Views are being requested from education professionals across the board, incorporating schools, colleges, universities, and the early years sector.

Whilst AI is already in use in some schools, using tools such as ChatGPT and Google Bard, the views are being requested in order to establish the benefits of the technology, as well as getting ahead of any potential risks that it could bring to schools.

The results of the call to evidence marks an important starting point for improved use of AI in education settings, with evidence outlining how the technology can be used to reduce workload, improve outcomes, and make operations more efficient. Other uses could include work to stop misuse such as exam bots and cheating in exams.

Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary, said:

“Artificial intelligence is going to transform the world around us and help grow the economy. The workforces that are best equipped with the skills and knowledge they need will be the ones that ride the wave. We must make sure education is one of them.

“For that potential to be realised, we – the government, our schools, colleges, and universities – need to be able to understand those opportunities, as well as the real risks new technology brings.

“That’s why we want to kick start a conversation with experts from across education and technology to hear their views and learn from their experiences. This will help us make the right decisions to get the best out of generative AI in a safe and secure way.”

Anyone working in education can submit evidence, with the call opening yesterday (14th June). Alongside this, the Department for Education will be speaking to experts by way of surveys, forums, and interviews with the aim of gathering key insight into how generative AI is already being used in education and how the sector can be supported by the technology in the future.

CEO of techUK, Julian David, said:

“AI promises to be one of the most impactful technologies of our lifetimes, and the UK is well positioned to be one of the leading countries unlocking the opportunities of this technology.

“However, in our UK Tech Plan, we stressed the importance of continuing to ensure we increase access to talent to both seize the benefits of AI and guard against its risks. Ending digital poverty is crucial if the UK aims to lead the conversation on AI on a global scale.

“The tech sector stands ready and willing to work closely with government and the education sector to ensure we can use AI in the best possible way to support pupils and educate them as they prepare to enter an increasingly digitally savvy workforce.”

Alongside this announcement, it was also revealed that adult learners are being supported to gain the essential skills they need for life, work, and study in a digital world thanks to the new Digital Functional Skills Qualifications (DFSQ). These courses will begin in September and will work to give adults the necessary digital skills. This focus follows Ipsos research outlining that 20% of adults across the country have either no or low essential digital skills.

This work will be supported by a new Digital and Computing Skills Education Taskforce. The Taskforce will identify what digital and computing skills are needed for the present and future, collaborating with industry experts to encourage young people into key sectors such as cyber security, AI or computing.

Image credit: iStock

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