What is AI and why is it so important?
In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has made rapid progress and significantly changed various sectors and industries, including education. For example, AI is capable of processing large amounts of data quickly, automating certain tasks, and providing requested information instantly.
According to the European Parliament’s Think Tank, 14% of jobs in OECD countries are highly automatable and another 32% could face substantial changes. Given this, education and training will play crucial roles in ensuring a digitally skilled workforce, capable of using these new technologies to their optimal potential.
What are the opportunities and challenges?
AI in education offers new opportunities for individuals and institutions alike. There are various ways in which AI can support and help teachers: from assisting teachers and learners with assessment, such as plagiarism checks, to creating diverse lesson plans and automating certain activities such as grading or providing feedback. As a result, AI can transform the way students acquire knowledge, access information and learning resources. A major concern of AI is the usage of data. Many AI technologies learn though analysing the digital information we leave behind whenever we use the internet or access certain services. Through this, our individual and social behaviour can be objectively quantified and subsequently easily tracked and even predicted. Therefore, making large quantities of personal data available can potentially have serious implications for privacy and surveillance, especially when minors are involved.
What is the European Commission doing about it?
The European Union is considering extensive legislation on AI under the Artificial Intelligence Act. This legal framework proposes to classify AI systems by risk and regulate various development and usage requirements. For the education sector in particular, the European Commission published in 2022 the Ethical guidelines on the use of AI and data in teaching and learning for educators. The guidelines aim to help teachers and educators better understand the potential of AI in education as well as raise awareness to potential risks. These guidelines are part of the Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) alongside 12 other actions, including the European Digital Education Hub.
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