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AI teachers are a student choice

This interesting resource emphasises the role of students in science. They will be shown why scientists need the opinions of students to help research AI in the classroom. Students can conduct the survey to explore how STEM and technology are influenced by society and how they are involved in it. It is suitable for years 9, 10, 11 and 12 learning about STEM careers and the changing face of research.

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The age of AI teachers could be drawing closer – but that is up to the students who will be talking to them.

The rise of online teaching has completely changed how we learn and teach. As a result, Artificial Intelligence assistants are now a distinct possibility in the classroom. However, what do students think about this?

Regardless of whether you work in a lab, we are all important when it comes to science. This is because the aim of science is not just to understand phenomena, but to help society. This means that students are essential in making sure scientific research produces useful technologies.

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Mobile for education and science. Exdez / Getty

Most importantly, you, and your opinions, are needed for science to properly progress, especially when it comes to technology AI.

For example, Researchers at the University of Central Florida how students perceive AI assistants now that they are a possible future, in order to direct their research.

“This reality gives rise to several important questions. For instance, what relationships exist between machine teachers and student learning outcomes, and how do these relationships compare to human teachers? What is a machine teacher’s role in classroom management?” they say in their paper.

“Before addressing these questions and many others, it seems prudent to understand the degree to which people are prepared to accept the notion of machine teachers.”

The researchers surveyed 321 undergraduate students to see how they perceived AI in their classrooms. They found that students were more likely to accept the AI teaching assistant and see it as useful if they found it was easy to communicate with. As a result, classes adopted AI based on positive reviews from students.

“This line of research is needed to design effective machine teachers that can actually facilitate positive learning experiences.” They say.

What is the future of AI in schools?

AI is already well established in society. For example, AI dictates what we see on Tiktok, how Alexa recognises our voice, or whether a self-driving car can make the right decisions. Consequently, this provides many areas for AI in the classroom.

Child interaction with augmented reality
Credit: KaPe Schmidt / Getty

In 2016, a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology introduced an AI teaching assistant, called Jill Watson, to their classroom. She answered questions in the student forums but pretended to be a human tutor. During the semester, students noticed how fast Jill replied, but they didn’t know her identity.

Future AI teaching assistants might have many roles. They could help answer simple student questions online, like Jill, design student-specific resources using machine learning, or even completely replace teachers in some areas. However, the future of AI in education is very much up to the opinions of the students who will be using them. Science must be guided by these opinions.

Why do scientists want to know what society thinks about technologies?

Everything is invented for a reason. Usually people have a need and invent something to help with it. However, this might be fine for a single individual, but their success depends on how other people perceive when implementing these inventions at a larger scale.

Robot teaching children
Credit: Alina Kvaratskhelia / Getty

Public opinions are particularly relevant when it comes to controversial scientific inventions, like genetic engineering, medical procedures, and data privacy.

Think about how Australian society feels about the use of AI at home – Many people love it and use it for fun, but some people have concerns about the privacy of their information and prefer not to use it.

Society still views these things as unnecessary or harmful in some spaces, and they are less likely to be introduced because of public attitudes and ethical concerns.

Therefore, scientists need to understand how users view a new technology before introducing it. Likewise, AI in the classroom is only as useful as students decide, so scientists must understand how students view AI in their class.

How does the opinion of society influence the scientific development of technology?

Public opinion on certain issues affects how people choose many things; What school should my child attend? Who should I vote for? Which companies are trustworthy?

As a result, people choose politicians and policies that share their values. Consequently, these groups give funding to research they personally understand and value. However, if we understand how society feels about technology, we can make our decisions based on science and evidence.

Most importantly, if scientists are able to understand how students feel about AI, we will know how to use it. In short, all students have a necessary and important role in helping scientists learn about which practises actually work.

So, what do you think about technology and AI in the classroom?

This article was written by Deborah Devis.

Years: 9, 10, 11, 12

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Additional – Careers, Technology.