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New Zealand Navigating the Role of Generative AI in Education

Image credits: news.osu.edu

With each passing day, technology continues to evolve and flourish in our society. Its rapid advancement encompasses and profoundly impacts numerous aspects and industries, compelling professionals to adopt artificial intelligence-driven (AI-driven) solutions to augment their productivity and efficiency. This technology has inevitably penetrated the realm of education, enabling teachers to utilise generative AI in assessing pupils’ work.

In light of its subjectivity and limited capabilities in assessing complex academic content, the Ministry of Education in New Zealand recommends that teachers carefully consider using generative AI technology to mark pupils’ work.

The ministry strives to uphold fair and accurate evaluation methods that align with educational standards and objectives, “Without understanding the basis for seeing inside the algorithm, this can be leading to discrimination and unfairness.”

Furthermore, there are instances where technology can be fallible due to the absence of human intervention (human touch). Generative AI systems trained solely on internet data may need more exposure to the specific work produced by children and young individuals, resulting in a limited understanding of what is suitable and expected from them, leading to a limited understanding of what is deemed appropriate and expected from this demographic.

Victoria University Senior Lecturer in software engineering, Simon McCallum, said that he agreed teachers should be wary of using generative AI for marking pupils’ work. However, McCallum believed generative AI tools would eventually be very good for grading students’ work.

Utilising generative AI, in the educational setting is recommended by employing it purposefully and judiciously. Ultimately, teachers can leverage its potential to teach students critical literacy skills, specifically empowering learners to question the accuracy of the information they encounter and to identify bias. With generative AI as a valuable resource, the educational experience becomes a dynamic and engaging journey of exploration and critical thinking.

Technological evolution can bring various advantages and disadvantages. However, humans cannot entirely rely on it, especially considering the technology has yet to reach its potential fully. Vaughan Couillault, president of the Secondary Principals Association, says, “There are many advantages to having machines automate certain tasks, but the quality is not yet at the desired level.”

As advancements in generative AI persist, its reach extends beyond its initial domains, finding applications in diverse fields and sectors. Several countries are now witnessing firsthand the transformative impact of generative AI on traditional business, even government policy models.

In New Zealand alone, there is a strong emphasis on promoting technology integration in education, with initiatives designed to support teachers adapting to technological advancements. One such initiative is the tech programme for teachers, which aims to equip educators with the necessary knowledge and skills to incorporate technology into their teaching practices effectively.

These initiatives aim to empower teachers to impart their newly acquired knowledge to students, especially those who are digitally inclined. By doing so, these programs foster a culture of technological fluency and inspire the next generation to embrace the digital world. One of the initiatives is the tech program for teachers, which aims to provide educators with the necessary knowledge and skills to integrate technology into their teaching practices effectively.

The curriculum emphasises the significance of fostering critical literacy, including digital literacy. Teachers can leverage generative AI by creating texts and incorporating them into lessons to develop students’ critical literacy abilities. Additionally, teachers can utilise a series of texts to enhance students’ understanding of the effective use of prompts.

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