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AI as Assistive Technology in Learning

AI tools such as ChatGPT should be used as assistive technologies in learning to develop higher-order thinking skills such as critical evaluation and creativity, according to Prof Matt Bower, Interim Dean of Macquarie University's School of Education. "ChatGPT and AI more generally is a useful prompt for us to reconsider how we assess and teach across the entire university sector. The impact may be even greater in school education, where students are asked to deliver less complex homework and assignments," according to Bower. 

Bower says that teachers may need to look at changing more traditional assessment tasks so that they aren’t as easily directly answerable via AI. 

Prof Matt Bower, Macquarie University

For instance, teachers will need to assign tasks that are personalised and contextualised, he says. “Rather than ask a general question like: ‘how can we help improve sustainability in society?’, a teacher could rephrase a question to: ‘what are the ways that you can improve our approach to sustainability at Fort Street High School?,” he says.

“Students then have to apply their learning to what's happening in their own domain.” 

Teachers could also ask students to create multimedia rather than text responses - for instance, having students provide a video interpretation of a character from Hamlet.

“This way there's a bit more synthesis required by students; while they could ask ChatGPT to create a script, the temptation to submit AI content is reduced when you actually have to create a video yourself and think about how you will represent ideas.”

New technologies are evolving to detect AI generated content but students may as well try to over come it through various means. However, banning of ChatGPT is a losing battle, he said. Educators need to be at the front line, helping students to decipher and apply this technology effectively and ethically to prepare them for success when they graduate. 

Just as calculators and spell-checkers are allowed in schools, best ways to use AI have to be found out. Each school or institution may devise their own approaches to AI with the objective of developing thinking skills, creativity and help children learn to work well with AI.

Photo and Content Courtesy: The Lighthouse, Macquarie University, 23 January, 2023

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