Should AI be banned from schools?

The introduction of a new technology usually triggers very clear reactions, ranging from enthusiastic welcome to stubborn reluctance. Artificial intelligence (AI) is no exception and raises dilemmas. However, instead of asking ourselves whether we should welcome it or banish it from the education system, we should not start by starting from the postulate of educational ability that Philippe Meirieu holds dear and ask ourselves how we can support each learner to do that for him to achieve appropriate learning? necessary to find your place in the world of tomorrow?

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Let's then ask ourselves again: “How can we integrate AI into our curricula to better support each learner on the path to their own excellence?” » As technology continues to evolve, it is important that the use of Weighing the concerns raised by AI, but also seeing how it promotes access to quality education through a review of pedagogical practices and teacher attitudes, could be part of a revolution in teaching methods that is more than a century old.

The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) in the education system is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, AI can be used as an effective tool to help students by providing them with personalized learning materials and instant feedback on their work. On the other hand, careless use of AI can have a negative impact on performance and preparation for the job market.

The development of AI calls into question the assessment of knowledge and the value of diplomas.

The recent example of ChatGPT shows us that some institutions banned it because they feared that this tool would facilitate cheating and lead to a decline in academic standards, while others welcomed it into their classrooms because they found it impossible to counteract to fight these technologies – and fight a losing war. Both positions are defensible. Institutions that have blocked access to these technologies recognize that when a learner's work is limited 100% to technology, there is little or no learning, particularly at a key stage in youth development.

However, this ban has proven to be relatively ineffective as students can easily circumvent it by using 4G connections on their mobile phones, thus proving that those who support their right to integration can assert this ban. So how can we best support learners, but also teachers, in the use of AI?

Institutional framework conditions

The European Commission has been thinking about integrating digital technologies into education for several years, from primary school to higher education. To ensure that teachers and students harness the potential of AI for learning, it published the Guidelines for the Ethical Use of AI and Data in Education, adopting the Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027 on September 30, 2020. The aim of these guidelines is to provide support at all levels – be it teaching or related administrative tasks – so that everyone can benefit from an optimal learning experience.

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In North America, the National Federation of Teachers of Quebec gives us an example of how to address the problem.

In France, Education Minister Pap Ndiaye presented a digital education strategy 2023-2027 at the end of January 2023, the aim of which is to strengthen students' digital skills and accelerate the use of digital tools for student success. The various axes and measures are presented in a 41-page report, which in particular develops the points of a “sensible, sustainable and inclusive” digital offer for the benefit of an educational community and “enables students to become enlightened citizens in the 'digital age'”. .

Read more: ChatGPT: Plagiarism is just the tree that hides the forest

Engaged reflection goes far beyond the framework of the school or university and requires the mobilization of all educators, parents and teachers to support new generations in the use of these technologies, which are revolutionizing their use, especially in school and university contexts.

The ChatGPT turning point

ChatGPT technology, which has been making headlines since its launch on November 30, 2022, is now well known. Many middle and high school students have tried to delegate their homework to the AI. And many teachers have expressed helplessness as it is difficult to tell whether an essay was written by a student or by AI, especially since it is possible to ask ChatGPT to adjust writing depending on the status, whether it is a middle school student or a student who is preparing a dissertation, for example.

OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT, and others have promised to create scripts to distinguish between human and AI writing. Nowadays it works quite well for English texts. However, the results of the ten tests we conducted with plagiarism detection software on French texts show that for texts written by an AI, the software detects the AI ​​in 60% of cases and so in 40% of cases In some In some cases he thinks it is a human.

Teachers correct homework done by ChatGPT (Brut, 2023).

In addition, we also found that with AI-generated texts, it was enough to replace two or three words in each sentence for the control software to assume that the writing came from a human. The only alternatives that work so far and are required by teachers are written assessments at the table, without internet access, and oral assessments. However, universities do not have all the technical and/or logistical resources to organize all exams in person. And the development of AI is exponential.

These changes challenge the assessment of skills and could lead to the credibility of diplomas being weakened. We can then assume that recruiters will no longer be satisfied with academic recognition and will add diagnostic tests to verify the skills claimed on the applicant's resume. This would encourage students to focus on acquiring skills rather than focusing on grades. Would the development of AI encourage us to see school differently?

A Copernican Revolution

The Swiss psychologist Édouard Claparède, early 20th centurye Century speaks of the initiation of a Copernican revolution to recognize the child's ability to become an actor in his education. The educator would then no longer be a “teacher” but an “instructor”, to use the words of Roger Cousinet, a French inspector who, alongside the famous Maria Montessori, took part in this international movement of New Education, which joined forces with in 1921 with the aim of changing education.

Read more: ChatGPT: (again) an “anthropological revolution”?

Educational innovations then come into schools through different tools and methods and are no longer based on masterful teaching that is identical for everyone, but on learning that is based on the specific abilities of each individual student. This is the inclusive school that is ahead of its time. Starting from what makes sense for the child or young person, the teacher provides them with the elements they need to build their project and thinks differently about the assessment.

However, to address the risks of new technologies and the flood of information now available to everyone, rethinking the role of the teacher appears to be one of the key factors. Added to this is the challenge for tomorrow's schools to integrate the new knowledge necessary for the education of the future, with philosopher Edgar Morin identifying knowledge of knowledge, uncertainty and error as key elements, among others.

Given the mass of freely accessible knowledge and AI that now allows for more or less meaningful use, education in the search for information and its meaningful use is a way to raise the awareness of learners in a way that benefits everyone can learn. In conclusion, there appears to be an urgent need to develop critical thinking and question how schools can take on these new challenges in order to advance this Copernican revolution, relying on new tools that will not fail to have an impact.

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