Should AIs be kicked out of schools?


The introduction of a new technology generally arouses very clear-cut reactions, between enthusiastic receptions and stubborn reluctance. Artificial intelligence (AI) is no exception to the rule and raises dilemmas. However, rather than wondering whether to welcome it or banish it from the education system, shouldn’t we first start from the postulate of educability dear to Philippe Meirieu and ask ourselves how to support each learner towards the learning that is theirs? necessary to find one’s place in the world of tomorrow?

So let’s ask the question again: “How to integrate AI into our school curricula to better support each learner towards the excellence that is their own?” Given the constant evolution of technology, it is essential to weigh the concerns raised by the use of AI, but also to see how it could promote access to quality education by re-examining the pedagogical practices and the posture of the teacher, thus being part of a revolution in teaching methods that are more than a century old.

The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) in the education system is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, AI can be used as an effective tool to help pupils and students by providing them with personalized learning materials and instant feedback on their work. On the other hand, if AI is used carelessly, it can have detrimental effects on their performance and job readiness.

The recent example of ChatGPT shows us that some institutions have banned it for fear that this tool facilitates cheating and lowers academic standards, while others have welcomed it into their classroom because it seemed impossible to them. to fight against these technologies – and wage a losing war. Both positions defend themselves. Institutions that have blocked access to these technologies are well aware that, if a learner’s work is relegated 100% to technology, there is no longer or little learning, which is moreover at a key period. of adolescent development .

However, this ban has proven to be relatively ineffective, with students easily circumventing it by using 4G connections from their mobile phones, thus proving the supporters of their integration right. How, then, can we best support learners, but also teachers in the use of AI?

Institutional frameworks

The European Commission has been considering for several years the integration of digital technology in education, from elementary to higher education. To ensure that teachers and students benefit from the potential of AI for learning, it released the Guidelines for the Ethical Use of AI and Data in Education and, on September 30, 2020 , it thus approved the action plan for digital education 2021-2027 . These guidelines aim to provide support at all levels – from teaching to the administrative tasks associated with it – so that everyone can benefit from an optimal learning experience.

In France, at the end of January 2022, the Minister of National Education Pap Ndiaye presented a digital strategy for education 2023-2027, the aim of which is to strengthen students’ digital skills and accelerate the use of digital tools. for student success. The various axes and measures are presented in a 41-page report which develops in particular the points of a “reasoned, sustainable and inclusive” digital offer for the benefit of an educational community and to “enable students to become enlightened citizens in the ‘digital age’.

The reflection undertaken goes well beyond the framework of the school or the university and requires the mobilization of all educators, parents, teachers, to support the new generations in the uses of these technologies which come to upset the uses pedagogical, particularly in the context of school and university.

The ChatGPT Turn

The ChatGPT technology, which has been in the headlines since its launch on November 30, 2022, is now known to everyone. Many middle and high school students and students have tried to delegate their duties to AI. And many teachers have expressed their helplessness, as it is difficult to detect whether an essay is written by a student or by the AI, and this all the more so since it is possible to ask ChatGPT to adapt writing according to status, whether a college student or a student preparing a dissertation, for example.

OpenAI, the company that built ChatGPT, and others have promised to produce scripts to differentiate between human writing and AI writing. Today, it works quite well on English texts. However, out of the ten tests that we carried out on French texts with plagiarism detection software, the results show that, on texts written by an AI, in 60% of cases, the software detects the AI ​​and so in 40% of the cases, he thinks it’s a human being.

In addition, we were also able to observe that, for the texts generated by the AI, it was enough to replace two or three words in each sentence for the control software to think that the writing came from a human being. The only alternatives that work to date and which are imposed on teachers are written evaluations on the table, without Internet access, and oral evaluations. However, universities do not have all the technical and/or logistical means to organize all face-to-face exams. And the evolution of AI is exponential.

These transformations call into question the evaluation of skills and could lead to undermining the credibility of diplomas. We can then think that recruiters will no longer be satisfied with university recognition and will add diagnostic tests to verify the skills claimed by the candidate’s CV. This would encourage students to focus on skill acquisition and stop focusing on grades. Could the development of AI encourage us to consider school differently?

A Copernican Revolution

The Swiss psychologist Édouard Claparède, from the beginning of the 20th century  , spoke of initiating a Copernican revolution to recognize in the child his capacity to be an actor in his education. The educator would then no longer be a “teacher” but a “returner”, to use the words of Roger Cousinet, a French inspector who participated, alongside the famous Maria Montessori in particular , in this international movement for new education which in 1921 with the goal of transforming education.

Pedagogical innovation then invites itself to school through different tools and methods no longer based on a masterful and identical teaching for all, but on learning based on the capacities specific to each student. It is the inclusive school before its time. Starting from what makes sense for the child or young person, the teacher provides him with the elements he needs to build his project, and thinks about evaluation differently.

However, to face the risks of new technologies and the avalanche of information now within everyone’s reach, rethinking the role of the teacher seems to be one of the key factors. To this is added the challenge of the school of tomorrow to integrate the new knowledge necessary for the education of the future , among which the philosopher Edgar Morin identifies, among other things, the knowledge of knowledge, uncertainty, error, as so many key elements.

Faced with the mass of knowledge in free access and with the AI ​​which now makes it possible to use it more or less wisely, education in the search for information and its use wisely is an opportunity to raise awareness among learners in the sense that everyone can derive from the fact of learning. In conclusion, it seems urgent to develop critical thinking and to question how schools can take up these new challenges in order to pursue this Copernican revolution by relying on new tools which will undoubtedly see the day.

Author Bios: Fabienne Serina-Karsky is a HDR Lecturer in Educational Sciences and Gabriel Maes is a Pedagogical Engineer and Trainer both at the Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP)