Generative artificial intelligence is making its way into the classroom, putting a spotlight on how students learn and raising questions about the value of higher education. It's a test many educators weren't prepared for.
There's little doubt AI will shake up education, but how faculties and institutions will adapt is the focus of this week's episode of the Bloomberg Originals video series AI IRL.
“I think education is going to have a huge reckoning,” said Andrea Jones-Rooy, a professor of data science at New York University. “Faculty are in a huge panic. We get more emails about generative AI than we got in the early days of Covid when everything was shutting down.”
Aside from concerns that chatbots are making it easier for students to cheat, Jones-Rooy said the rise of AI is a long-overdue “wake-up call” that is forcing institutions to rethink how they're preparing students for the real world. “We can't keep telling ourselves that we're here to teach them how to do code or have these tangible skills because you can teach yourself all of those things,” she said.
To adapt, professors will need to get creative and develop new methods of teaching and assessing less-defined skills like critical thinking, which she says will always require in-person interaction. Still, universities will need to better outline what they offer, especially as tuition fees soar in the US and similar squeezes affect students in Britain and Europe.
“I think education just needs to start to be more honest about what our value add is, because what we think the value add is – or at least what we're telling our students the value add is – is rapidly being replaced.”
One advantage of AI could be increasing access for students who need extra help and better tailoring standardized tests to assess their understanding of a subject, said Pamela Gay, an astronomer and senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.
However, she fears a greater reliance on online systems could have a disparate impact if access to the internet at home remains unequal, seen during the pandemic with “students trying to do all their schoolwork through a phone because that's all they had”, Gay said. – Bloomberg