What are the current limitations of AI use in education?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is seemingly everywhere, influencing everything from our online shopping experience to the news we read. Heralded by some as the new must-have technology and others as the doom of human creativity, it’s certainly divisive. Like it or loathe it, there’s no denying that it can speed up certain tasks and, as a result, is likely to play a large part in our lives moving forward.

But does it have a role in education for both students and teachers? It can be used to create a more individual learning experience and help teachers keep track of grades and flag any concerns with performance or behavior. But it’s not all good news – 47% of surveyed teachers, principals, and district leaders agreed to oppose this tech. In this post, we explore some of the current limitations of AI use in the education system in 2024.

Cost of AI

While plenty of free AI tools are available, some require a subscription. This can be tricky for schools if they’re on a tighter budget, especially if each account can only be used by one person – even with a small faculty of six teachers, that soon adds up. 

There’s also the devices themselves. AI requires a computer in some form, and most schools don’t have the money to buy devices for more than one class to use at once. Besides the hardware, schools must invest in the latest antivirus software and other cybersecurity measures.

Data security concerns

Teachers are in a position of trust. They have access to sensitive information such as dates of birth, addresses, and exam grades that can impact students’ futures. On top of this, most schoolwork is never intended to be published to a wider audience. While AI can be useful, it’s an emerging technology that is still relatively in its infancy, and data security has been raised repeatedly as an area that needs improvement. Educators using AI may unintentionally put students at risk, as well as themselves.

Reduction in critical thinking 

AI is fantastic for pulling out lots of information in what feels like nanoseconds – whether writing an example essay, gathering data insights from term papers, or just looking up a quick definition of an unfamiliar term. However, there are concerns that this easy access to information will reduce critical thinking skills and create a culture that just accepts any information from the internet as fact.

It’s particularly problematic when you consider that fake news is rife across the internet. AI relies on the datasets it’s been trained on – which could easily include incorrect information.

AI removes the human element

Artificial intelligence is more efficient but more emotionally intelligent than a teacher. Arguably not. There’s a concern that moving to AI-focused education means that teachers will just become facilitators of a dehumanized learning experience and that students will simply become a number on a page. This is an extreme view, but the reality is that it’s likely to fall somewhere in between, so it will certainly affect the classroom in negative and positive ways. 

This is less of a limitation of AI and more an issue with how we perceive it. When used correctly, AI can augment the learning experience, make educators’ lives easier, and support students who struggle with traditional classroom-based settings. However, we need to understand the value of the teacher in this model and create a harmonious compromise that is the best for everyone.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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