AI in education: the lower cost option

A third of university staff have not used AI in their work, according to a survey in-progress, reported to a Senate committee inquiry on artificial intelligence by Universities Australia.

They are about to have ample opportunities to catch-up.

“The corporate generative AI driven takeover of education is in full swing,” Deakin U digital writing researcher Lucinda McKnight told FC (May 28) after Open AI launched the Chat GPT 4.o maths-teaching, language-translating, chit-chatting voice assistant.

Dr McKnight’s not just humming Glen Miller. Just days after that launch, Open AI announced Chat GPT Edu, “an affordable offering for universities to responsibly bring AI to campus.”

Which will unsettle university staff who have responded to the survey being conducted across the university system by Paula McDonald and Abby Cathcart (QUT) and Griffith U’s Stephen Hay.

Preliminary results include;

  • 77 per cent of academic and 64 per cent of professional staff use AI
  • over half agree that “certain types” of university roles will likely be lost to AI and 40 per cent of survey responders “are concerned about being left behind”
  • and 47 per cent, “believe that AI has the potential to increase educational disadvantage amongst university students”

The GPT Edu promo could have been written by any human hack but two of the examples Open AI provides are of the teaching-assistance kind.

At Wharton Business School students have “discussions” (the quotes are mine not Open AI’s) about “final reflection” assignments.

A German language instructor at Arizona State U used a Chat GPT product to work on a conversation bot. That was before the launch of GPT 4.0 which included the programme chatting (albeit briefly) in English and Italian, and translating each language into the other. (HERE at 22.07). There is also the video of 4.0 explaining how to solve a math problem.

As teaching support these are potentially hard to beat.

The attraction for universities keen to provide endless individual support in everything is obvious.

So is the attraction for universities keen to cut their teaching budgets by spending up on AI and down on people.

The survey responders who worry about AI creating inequality in education might be focusing on more of the latter than the former.


For a closer look at the practical impacts of AI on higher education, join the Future Campus team at HEFEST.



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