AI-ducation: Configuring AI as a Tool for Education

By Alieza Mae P. Cacpal

In the past, the “education toolbox” only consisted of books, as well as any forms of physical and digital learning materials. Afterward, the internet emerged as a valuable addition and enabled itself to make its own space in the tool case. Today, a new learning tool appears to be attempting to fit into this narrative, a little complicated in the sense that it is like a mechanical puzzle with an indefinite shape that needs configuration—this is Artificial Intelligence (AI)—how would it fit in the education toolbox?

AI has penetrated multiple facets of human life. AI devices are trained to perform specific tasks as efficiently as possible. To complete the tasks assigned to them, the machine is programmed to access and process massive amounts of computationally available data. This rapid technological growth is revolutionizing industries and enhancing human capabilities—with no exception in education and learning.

The use of AI in education is already established for a substantial amount of time. Software or websites that check spelling, grammar, and even plagiarism detectors are visibly part of our lives.

The difference now is that the rise of AI-powered platforms such as ChatGPT highlights significant development of AI that poses threats—ethical considerations and epistemological consequences—in student learning. The global education landscape is shaken by the ability of software like ChatGPT to write sophisticated essays and generate other features such as stories, poems, and artwork that were only previously possible through human creative thinking. 

There has been a collective concern that the automated production of essays and such shortcuts may discourage critical thinking, learning development, and integrity. Educators are wary that students may submit AI-generated materials as their own to accomplish requirements, thus, skipping the much-needed learning process as automation is readily available. In fact, ChatGPT is framed on social media as a ‘cheating device’ to accomplish school assignments.

This issue challenges the education system in the Philippines. It poses a question as to how it should respond to the development of AI, as preventing its use will never be an efficient solution. 

As we all know, AI is here to stay; whether we like it or not, it will evolve and develop—becoming smarter and more efficient. This pushes the education sector to create protocols that will ensure the responsible usage of AI, especially in preserving academic integrity. 

The current state of education prompts us to reconsider and improve the system, including strategies, rules, and policies, to move towards a new and better approach to learning. This is a challenge to the academe to produce graduates and train students to be critical thinkers, making them incomparable to highly intelligent machines.

While artificial intelligence appears to have a negative connotation, there is always another side to the coin, and it is critical to understand that AI’s contribution must not be limited to its association with ethical and epistemic issues. Instead, we can also view AI in education positively, whereas AI as a tool is used for self-study and enhancing personalized learning. 

To supplement this paper, I accessed the website of ChatGPT to view the “sophistication” of the platform. In my personal experience, it does seem to construct promising essays, but analyzing it further made me realize that while it looks sound, the whole text seems flat, and some data are not even factual. 

This unfavorable observation aside, the experience is intriguing as there is a realization that AI  can be utilized as a starter in writing and as a means to extract your own thoughts, particularly during creative burnout. 

Moreover, as ChatGPT and other AI-powered platforms have a user-friendly interface, a learner can personalize the learning experience and apply the dynamic and engaging factors that AI  can offer at their own pace and into their own preference—promoting greater engagement, retention, and academic success. 

The traditional learning style in education is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and the capacity of AI to tailor educational content to meet the unique needs of each learner will contribute to nurturing a love for learning among students. 

Such concerns about AI-generated outputs should not be a problem, especially for conscientious educators, who can assess the authorship and detect plagiarism through AI as well, such as Turnitin. The notion that AI encourages cheating and can develop new and significant outputs on its own can be challenged by the use of AI tools, which also balance each other out.

Contrary to popular concerns about AI replacing teachers, this technology should also be viewed as a powerful tool for educators. With AI algorithms that can analyze vast amounts of student data, this can assist with administrative tasks, freeing up valuable time for teachers to focus on individualized instruction and mentoring. Moreover, AI  platforms, such as Canva, can aid in creating personalized lesson plans, curating educational content, and designing interactive assessments, enhancing instructional effectiveness and efficiency.

Indeed, AI is merely a tool, a complementary tool, rather than a substitute for human interaction. Thus,  negative connotations associated with  AI result from improper utilization and the lack of accountability in managing the platforms. 

As established earlier, submitting academic requirements written by AI is essentially cheating; however, if used as a tool to aid in learning and research—in a sense that we have a preliminary understanding of a subject matter and an idea of how tasks should be completed—then there is no need to fear AI.

If we utilize AI technologies ethically and equitably—by creating guidelines and ethical frameworks for AI use in education and establishing policies and procedures for addressing ethical dilemmas that arise with AI—we can amplify its effectiveness to the learners and educators, bridge educational gaps, and empower individuals to reach their full potential. 

With the thoughtful implementation of AI, it would, indeed, fit into the educational toolbox, further reshaping education, preparing learners for the complexities of the 21st century and beyond, and empowering them to thrive in an ever-evolving world.