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03 August 2023

A Summary: Student Debate on AI in Education

Olivia Wolfheart profile image
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Olivia Wolfheart

Our first student debate on AI yielded some extremely interesting insight into the way students view AI in education. Students were primarily on the fence about the use of AI in education, but overall landed on the consensus that AI poses greater opportunity than threat to education. This event was a show debate, below are the key points covered during the ‘hats off’ section in which students discussed their true opinions on the topic.

Points in favour of AI in education:

  • AI is something we will benefit from in education as in other facets of life - in the workplace AI will help to improve the way people do their jobs (rather than aim to replace people's livelihoods). AI is here to enhance what we do and provide more opportunities for humans to do more interesting and fun things in both the workplace and in education.
  • If we make AI unavailable to students in the classroom, then we aren't equipping them for the future - education may limit the use of AI but businesses will maximise it - it's educations duty to prepare students for the future and harnessing the use of emerging technologies is a part of that.
  • AI is a powerful tool - as a society are we ready to use this in a widespread way within education? Rather than shut it down, we should be taking steps to learn how to embrace it.
  • If something like AI can derail education, perhaps the problem lies within education. For example, if AI can help you with your coursework and exams, and perhaps even constitute cheating, then what are we really testing? If students are simply being tested on memorising and recalling content then we're not assessing student ability in the right way.

Concerns around the use of AI in education:

  • Online learning in the COVID lockdown showed how technology can help education delivery but AI doesn’t have the capability to be as effective as real teachers and it should not be promoted as a replacement for teachers or designed to replace teaching, it cannot convey the genuine empathy and passion of teachers which students value.
  • We need to be careful that we don’t become reliant or lazy as a result of AI. We're scientifically programmed as human beings to take the path of least resistance, so we need to ensure it doesn't promote laziness. There's a concern that users are looking for tools to make things easier (therefore a risk of increasing laziness) and that AI will reduce creativity.
  • Students are using tools like Chat GPT to gain answers to questions posed in class and it’s being used to cut corners - no incentive for students to find the answers themselves.
  • The possibilities of AI are great - but quite aspirational. Lots of the news about AI promotes the harms and we've seen how AI is being used to replace actors and writers - it's creating lots of issues in creative industries to the point of instigating strikes - there are potential benefits but what we most often see is AI being used to cut corners and companies using it to diminish the value of people’s work - we need to create mechanisms that protect from those harms.

It would be great to know what your students think about this topic – you could show your class the recording of the debate (or some clips) and facilitate a similar discussion amongst your students – and let us know the key points in the comments below! 


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Dean Rowley
08/08/2023 19:43

Very interesting reply and I think this debate would be great to extend to all teachers in all schools to see how the idea develop

Olivia Wolfheart
08/08/2023 17:43

Hi Alyson, the speakers were aged 17-19 (they were mainly a-level students)

Alyson Meredith
08/08/2023 17:32

This is a really interesting post thank you for sharing it. I was just wondering what age the students who took part in he debate? Thanks in advance.

Pete Dring
03/08/2023 17:15

Thank you - really interesting debate and helpful summary.