The impact of generative AI

Generative AI is one of those rare moments in time when technological acceleration is reshaping and redefining everything going forward. So what impact will it have on education? Dr Neelam Parmar investigates

The educational landscape experienced a monumental transformation in the wake of the pandemic. The new norm of online learning disrupted traditional teaching methods and altered the way education is perceived. The global pandemic swiftly swept through the world, breaking down established barriers of mindset and thinking, and challenged preconceived cultural and behavioural norms. Over time, these transformative changes have become a familiar part of our collective experience, and we have adapted to them.
In the way, the pandemic engulfed the world, a new revolutionary technology of generative artificial intelligence has also emerged, exemplified by large language models like ChatGPT, Microsoft BING and Google Bard. These powerful AI models are at the forefront of catalysing transformative shifts again in education, challenging long-established fixed ideas and beliefs, that were once considered unshakeable. Generative AI is one of those rare moments in time when technological acceleration is reshaping and redefining everything going forward. The genie of generative AI is unleashed and the path seems to be unintentionally set.
So, how do we envision the profound impact of the force of AI on our education system and the vast possibilities it can hold for the future?
As AI has become a familiar part of our daily lives, from Google Maps’ navigation systems to personalised recommendations from Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube, the influence of large language models (LLMs) in education can fundamentally reshape educational cultural norms in potentially three significant ways: through the integration of AI teaching assistants, the promise of AI personalised learning and the emergence of AI hybrid schools.

1. AI teaching assistants: teacher-student relationship

Generative AI models have the potential to revolutionise the teacher-student dynamic relationship by offering support to educators in the classroom. Instead of perpetuating the myth of AI replacing human teachers, we can focus on developing AI to function as a co-creator and co-assistant, supporting educators in creating personalised lesson plans, offering tailored tutoring support, and providing real-time feedback on student work.
This approach places more importance on the educators’ unique role in being able to focus on student’s personal, social, and emotional needs above all while leveraging AI’s capabilities to enhance the learning experience. The role thereby shifts from traditionally led knowledge deliverers to facilitators of an adaptive learning experience that can redefine the way teachers interact with students, and afford them the flexibility to adapt their instructional approaches, according to each one’s needs.

2. AI personalised learning: tailored education for every student

Generative AI holds real promise in delivering personalised learning experiences for students. Platforms like Khanamigo  (Khan Academy) are in beta pilot exemplifying the power of AI-driven algorithms to meticulously analyse individual students’ strengths, weaknesses, learning patterns, and preferences. Through the processing of real-time data, AI-generated technology can potentially look to create tailor-made educational pathways that are suited to each student’s specific needs and development.
The power of an individualised approach to learning can allow students to progress at their own pace, with the aim to facilitate a deeper understanding of subject content and enhance overall engagement. With AI as a guiding companion, students have the option to embark on an educational journey without constraints, free to progress at their preferred level – be it swiftly or gradually – to accommodate their unique learning needs.
This cultural and behavioural shift can accelerate autonomy, independent learning, and lifelong learning skills that challenge the notion of one-size-fits-all education.

3. AI hybrid schools: breaking free from physical boundaries

The influence of generative AI extends far beyond the boundaries of physical classrooms. With AI hybrid schooling, education can break free from the constraints of traditional brick-and-mortar settings. No longer confined to a single location, the idea of education can take on a limitless form, where classroom walls dissolve, and the world becomes the learning environment. Imagine a future where learning knows no geographical limits and never stops.

Virtual classrooms, remote learning, blended approaches, and online micro-learning credentials can flourish, granting students access to education from any corner of the globe, transcending geographical barriers and disrupting established physical structural norms. This transformative shift in education fosters a cultural change as students from diverse backgrounds come together, collaborate, and learn, nurturing cross-cultural understanding and empathy. The world can become a global classroom, where the pursuit of knowledge unites students from every corner of the earth, ushering in a new era of interconnected learning.
Navigating the transformative landscape

We have a significant transformation that is revolutionising education. In the aftermath of the pandemic, our educational landscape went through a monumental shift. The new normal, driven by online learning and now the rise of generative AI technology, not only made the impossible possible for many, but it reshaped and is still shaping teaching and learning, challenging traditional cultural and behavioural norms in education.
The boundless potential of generative AI in education can open up a world of possibilities.  While it is prudent to approach AI with a measure of scepticism, we should try to maintain an open mind to the positive impact it can bring to reshaping education. By embracing the potential of AI teaching assistants, personalised learning, and hybrid schools, perhaps we can look to progress toward a more student-centric, flexible, and modern educational system that fosters inclusivity, adaptability, and innovation, catering individually to the unique needs of learners.

As a society, it becomes our responsibility to guide the Artificial Intelligence role in education, aligning it with emerging behavioural and cultural norms that are deemed acceptable and appropriate. The future of education lies in our hands and as we embark on this unpredictable journey with a balanced mindset, preserving the human connection in education will always remain paramount, with educators leading and nurturing the next generation of learners.