Artificial intelligence in education

Late last year Internet users got their first glance of the state of artificial intelligence (AI) technology when ChatGPT-3, OpenAI‘s public preview of their AI chatbot, was launched. ChatGPT has proven very capable of creating anything from short, concise responses to users’ questions, up to lengthy well-sourced reports, and even poetry. ChatGPT has caused quite a stir in educational communities all over the world as it necessitates a rethink of many of the things that we do in education. Icelandic teachers’ reaction to this novel technology is mixed, as seems to be the case in other parts of the world. However, most teachers seem to regard ChatGPT-like technologies more as an inviting challenge than a threat. ChatGPT is seen as one more addition to the rapidly growing ecology of technologies that facilitate learning and teachers need to embrace it and figure out how to effectively integrate into education.

To explore what types of impact AIs can be expected to have on education, the City of Reykjavík and the University of Iceland’s School of Education organised a symposium held in the School of Education last January. Speakers at the symposium included experts on AI technology, teachers who are already developing ways of using the technology in education, and philosophers who are exploring the ethical aspects of AI technologies. The teachers’ contribution was especially engaging as their presentation was largely created by, and delivered by, AI technologies. They simply asked ChatGPT how it might be used effectively in education and had a machine reader read the response. They also demonstrated how ChatGPT can be used to summarise long texts (something that it is proving to be especially good at) for students.

It is clear that AI technology will have a significant impact on education. However, how it changes education is largely up to the educational community. Icelandic teachers are embracing AI and seem overall to be eager to find ways of reaping its benefits. Yet, there are challenges that need to be addressed and it is clear that teachers will need to align many of their practices with this new technology.

Finally: SURPRISE! Most of this article was generated by ChatGPT based on a longer report, in Icelandic, about the symposium being described.

Tryggvi Thayer
University of Iceland
(and ChatGPT!)