Over the last few years, you’ve probably heard all about the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Understanding what AI is and how it could impact your teen’s educational journey is going to be necessary to support and guide them through the tricky high school years. As a parent or guardian, it’s likely that your teens are ahead of you in their knowledge and uptake of any new technologies. So we’ve put together some basic information you might find enlightening.
Understanding Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Simply put, AI is:
“A field in computer science that refers to computers or machines being able to simulate human intelligence to perform tasks or solve problems.” – Will Hurd, OpenAI
Whether we like it or not (or are ready or not) it’s already part of our lives in lots of different areas, including education. From self-driving cars and chat bots, to fraud detection, recommendation systems, and even medical imaging, AI is already everywhere.
The introduction of AI in education
Since the launch of ChatGPT* in 2022, the media has exploded with headlines and articles about AI. But it’s actually been around for a while, and is already prevalent in schools. AI is used in teaching apps that deliver content; personalised learning platforms that tailor lessons for individual student needs; smart content recommendations and educational software; assessment tools and grading systems; and even in student counselling services.
*Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer: a language based chat bot that can answer questions, compose emails, spit out essays, and even code when the user types in some text prompts.
Impacts of AI at school
For your teens, AI’s presence in education brings both opportunities and drawbacks. For example, AI-driven learning platforms that can adapt to your teen’s pace and style of learning, as well as providing customised resources and feedback, could really help them to thrive.
Teachers can also use AI in so many ways. It can free up more of their time in the classroom and allow them to target each student’s particular learning needs more effectively.
However, there are also concerns that students may rely too heavily on AI tools, such as ChatGPT, and therefore:
- Don’t develop critical thinking skills
- Lose creativity
- Stop generating their own solutions and ideas
- Are able to “cheat” more easily
- Hand in work that’s not been done by them
- Lose motivation for school if apps and platforms take over from real teaching
How to stay on top of AI at your child’s high school
Realistically, AI isn’t going anywhere, so our children (and us) are going to have to learn how to use this technology responsibly and safely. If you haven’t seen any information come home, you can contact your school and ask about the AI tools and platforms being used. Find out if the school has banned any specific AI technologies or programs so that you can keep an eye on what’s being used at home. You don’t have to be an expert, but knowing a little bit could benefit both you and your teen.
Have an open and honest conversation with your high schooler – ask them about their experiences with AI-based tools and if they’re being taught to use them responsibly. Don’t be upset or leap to judgement if your teen is using these tools when they’re not supposed to; use it as a chance to educate them on their benefits and pitfalls.
You could also attend any information sessions at school, speak to your school leadership or individual teachers, speak to other parents, and look for more information online. Schools and education departments are all over this and take it very seriously.
Get the right information
If you’re keen to dive deeper into understanding AI in education, we recommend that you seek out reliable sources of information. Request information about the school policies and research directly from the school. You could also look for specialists in educational technology and reputable online platforms who focus on AI in education. They’ll have recommendations and advice that’s both practical and up to date.
Be a futurist
If you can’t beat it, just embrace it! Sign up for workshops or courses to teach you the basics. Test AI tools together with your teen and explore their limitations as well as their potential. Read up about and discuss the ethics around AI. Investigate future career opportunities resulting from AI tech. This is going to be part of all our futures, so it’s great to set a solid foundation and gain understanding to move forward with.
If you’d like to read more of our blogs for parents, there’s a range of topics to choose from over on our website.