Technology in education: Is it helping or hindering students’ learning?


Artificial Intelligence by Tara Winstead

AI is starting to transform not just the way we think, but the systems and daily structures we operate on. In the education landscape, technology is rapidly changing. 

Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize education but at what point does technology interfere with students’ learning? 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a set of sciences, theories and logic that aims to imitate the cognitive abilities of a human being. 

The term “AI” would be attributed to John McCarthy in 1956 when he held the first academic conference on the subject. The main advances over the past sixty years have been in search and machine learning algorithms. It enhances the speed and effectiveness of human efforts. Most of the AI encountered uses machine learning, a technique where the computer teaches itself by searching for data. 

The boom of AI can be attributed to the year 2010, when massive data and computing power surfaced. 

The discovery of high efficiency card processors to analyze learning algorithms at an accelerated rate has enabled progress. The new boom can also be credited to the access to massive volumes of data. 

In the case of education, AI tools can be used to monitor student activity, grade essays and create models that predict student outcomes. The use of AI goes beyond grading assignments; it can greatly benefit both students and educators. 

In the US, 99.4% of 509 higher education institutions say that AI in education and learning will be instrumental to their institution’s competitiveness in the next three years. Without a doubt, AI is advancing at an unprecedented rate.

The growth of technology in educational institutions correlates with students’ problem solving needs. 

AI entered the role of personalized learning with the ability to adjust to the student’s pace of learning, abilities and goals. For example, if a student struggles with a mathematical problem AI can adjust the scenario to spark the interest of the student. This can be useful to close the gap between students who are behind. 

It seems the growing demand for online platforms across the world is supporting the market growth with an expected market revenue to cross $20B by 2027.

The future of AI will be incorporated into the education system. The main issue with AI-based learning platforms is that it can affect the critical thinking skills of students. Students have the option to not partake in any assignments when AI can compose a solution in a matter of seconds. 

Problem-solving can be the most critical aspect of a student’s growth and the development of AI tools can affect the process. Modern AI systems such as DaVinci-003 and ChatGPT are capable of writing high quality essays. 

In a study done by Will Yeadon and his colleagues, they tested whether AI tools could pass a college exam. Yeadon used the tool DaVinci-003, similar to ChatGPT and graded the AI generated answers using their standard skills. After grading, Yeadon concluded the AI answers scored an average score. For students who score low on essays, the AI tools could easily enhance their grades without much effort  on the students’ part. 

A survey done by EdWeek Research Center  found AI would have a negative or very negative impact on teaching and learning in the next five years. Only 27% said AI’s impact would be positive or very positive. 

Through the survey educators were asked to comment on their predictions. A district superintendent in California said: “Schools will need to engage in deep discussions of what students should know and be able to do in the new era of AI. I think AI will push making education more relevant to the individual student, and the knowledge and skill s/he will need to transact with his/her life circumstances.”

We’re on the cusp of artificial intelligence changing the way students learn. The new phenomenon has taken over the tech community and now it’s impacting teachers, students, and families across the globe. 

AI hasn’t come close to reaching its peak and the revolution on education is certainly something we all should keep our eyes on. 

Daisy Beltran can be reached at [email protected].