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Will there be a school without teachers in the future? – Artificial intelligence: a blessing or a curse?


Highlights: Artificial intelligence (AI) could be the biggest technological revolution since the invention of the smartphone. Pupils are now also using AI for school essays, presentation work, learning and much more. But what about the teachers? Do they lose control over their protégés' willingness to learn and do their homework? And on the other hand, how can AI help teachers? AI can't replace the teacher, says German Teachers' Association President Heinz-Peter Meidinger. But technical development would open up fascinating possibilities for teachers.

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Region - Artificial intelligence (AI) could be the biggest technological revolution since the invention of the smartphone. AI is already making its way into many areas of the economy. But what about our schools? Can ChatGPT even replace a teacher? So true to the motto: AI, take over! Will there be a school without teachers in the future? And how are schools currently dealing with this issue? We checked with educators, ChatGPT and the Weilheimer Gymnasium

Artificial intelligence has become indispensable. Ever since ChatGPT went around the world as an impressive application example, AI technology has been on everyone's lips. But how does AI and school fit together? Our research has shown that only those who do not ban technologies such as AI from the classroom, but use them, can adequately prepare students for these technologies. In order to master this challenge, well-known competencies need an update: source and media competencies are the key. Teachers must enable students to distinguish reliable sources from dubious offers. This also includes teaching what artificial intelligence is and how it works. But can AI also replace the teacher in the distant future? Artificial intelligence: a blessing or a curse?

If you ask the AI itself whether it should replace teachers, it has a very clear opinion on this, at least that's what it makes us believe. Because to the question: "Can you replace teachers in schools?" she gave the following answer:

"As an AI chatbot, I can support certain tasks in education, but I can't be a full substitute teacher in schools. I can provide information, answer questions, provide explanations, and support, but I can't provide the interaction and human empathy that are important for a comprehensive educational experience."

That sounds wise and diplomatic at the same time and somehow human. Behind the AI is ChatGPT – the chat program developed by OpenAI that has caused a lot of uproar in recent months. However, the answer also shows that AI is no longer just something that experts can interact with, but it can also be used as an interlocutor for the average consumer. Pupils are now also using AI for school essays, presentation work, learning and much more. But what about the teachers? Do they lose control over their protégés' willingness to learn and do their homework? And on the other hand, how can AI help teachers?

AI can't replace the teacher

"AI, take over! – School without teachers?" – Heinz-Peter Meidinger, President of the German Teachers' Association, recently discussed this topic at the Literaturhaus in Munich at the invitation of the Bavarian Philologists' Association (bpv).

Meidinger made it clear that although AI would have its permanent place in schools, it would not be able to replace humans. "Even an AI will not turn bad teaching into good ones," says Meidinger. Only a teacher who exudes enthusiasm for their subject can succeed in motivating children to learn.

Fascinating possibilities

Nevertheless, technical development would open up fascinating possibilities for teachers. AI programs could also relieve the burden on teachers, for example in the area of corrections. "It always depends on the sensible use of digital tools in the classroom," emphasized the DL President.


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In terms of education policy, despite the speed of technical development, Meidinger pleaded not to fall into actionism, but to evaluate possible consequences in detail before reforming teaching with regard to AI. From his point of view, it is premature to use it as early as primary school. "In primary school, the foundations for successful learning must be laid. Here it depends on the basics such as German and mathematics," Meidinger explained, referring to the results of the recently published IGLU study, which, among other things, attested to poor reading skills among students.

AI in consensus with educators

And the AI also makes it unmistakably clear:

"Teachers play a critical role in lesson design, individualizing student care, assessing progress, and fostering social and emotional learning. They bring their own experience, personality, and pedagogical skills to help students develop and reach their full potential. Nevertheless, I can be used as a support tool to provide students with additional resources and information or to help them with specific learning challenges. I can relieve teachers by taking on administrative tasks or helping them prepare teaching materials. Ultimately, however, the human interaction and pedagogical expertise of teachers are invaluable and cannot be completely replaced by AI."

What is the current situation in our schools?

"Like all schools, we are faced with the great challenge of preparing our students for AI technologies and equipping them with the appropriate skills," emphasizes Andrea Pauline Martin, headmistress at Gymnasium Weilheim. They are supported by the Bavarian State Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, which has created a so-called orientation framework that provides ongoing information on the very dynamic development of AI technology and offers comprehensive assistance for working and learning with artificial intelligence. For example, both data protection terms of use and the various possibilities for preparing and using ChatGPT, for example, are discussed here. Used sensibly, AI can create exercises for mathematics or English "in no time at all" or explain facts to students, for example. "In order to make our teachers 'fit' for this new technology, there is a wide range of training courses available for all subjects and all types of schools at various levels of state teacher training, which have already been taken up by many teachers at our school," Martin emphasizes. In addition, the teachers of the Weilheimer Gymnasium are intensively involved in so-called in-house training courses on the topic of AI, "which will bring many further changes for us - also with regard to our current examination culture," says the headmistress.

In this context, it is important to Martin that the evaluation of the learning process is of great importance in presentations, lectures and seminar papers. This means that the subject is accompanied by the teacher, as the student should learn, among other things, how to deal with digital source material and how, for example, he or she can shed light on his or her question from the wealth of information. Depending on the age group, he will also be able to draw his own conclusions on the basis of the available information or make his own evaluation on the topic. "If there is a good accompaniment, it is impossible for a student to just press the Enter button, there is more to it," says Martin.

Therefore, when presenting his product, the student must also be asked questions. These are questions that he can only answer through an intensive examination of the topic. That is why it is important to equip the students with the necessary skills, to strengthen them in dealing with new technologies and to provide them with the skills they need to adapt to future developments - "these are tasks of a modern school," emphasizes the headmistress.

Conveying values

"In terms of values education, we are also concerned with teaching our students values such as respect, tolerance and, of course, honesty. This aspect also plays an important role in performance surveys such as lectures, presentations and seminar papers. Simply presenting a work that has not been created by oneself as an independent one would then also be a deception," says Martin. If this is noticed, it has the same consequences as if you had been fooled in an exam.

Not an A student

And one more thing is important to know: The chatbot ChatGPT is not an A candidate. Because at the German Abi 2022, the AI failed its supposed parade discipline, text analysis. At least that's the result of a test conducted by Bayerischer Rundfunk together with teachers at Bavarian grammar schools. There were only three points, so a straight five. Rumms! And in maths, too, the program had just passed with a grade of four. The newer version, i.e. ChatGPT 4.0, on the other hand, should be able to access even more data. This will certainly improve the grades. Will it then be enough for the AI to achieve one?

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-06-09

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