Our world is in a constant state of evolution, witnessing new inventions every minute. The information overload is so massive that it is hard to keep track of the latest developments; distinguishing between right and wrong is a separate battle altogether.
With such rapid technological advancements, especially in the field of AI, our education system, which should ideally serve the purpose of informing about the latest developments and cultivating a sense of morality, lags significantly.
The education system’s sluggish response to technological advancements, particularly to AI advancements, creates a blind spot for the younger generation, devouring them of the reality they will face. It’s like teaching sailing on a landlocked island – the knowledge exists, but the context is missing.
Students, the beneficiaries of this future, remain largely uninformed about the intricacies of AI, while working professionals, past their prime learning window, scramble to catch up.
We focus on creating skilled professionals- “The AI experts”- within the existing paradigm. Yet, we fail to train and cultivate a generation of innovators who will ultimately define the future of technology.
Ironically, the technology that we are so readily scrambling up upon, will not even be used by us. Hence, the power to innovate must be passed to the next generation, with a complete understanding of the pros, cons, and ethical implications of these technological tools.
The reasons for the potential gap:
Contrary to popular opinion, the education system fails to update its curriculum to the latest technological advancements not due to a lack of understanding of the technology, but because of the following identified points:
- Bureaucratic inertia: Education systems struggle to keep pace with the rapid evolution of AI technology due to a bureaucratic agenda characterized by a slow decision-making process. Budget allocation procedures and lengthy approval chains hinder investment in the necessary infrastructure and resources. (A 2023 OECD study reveals funding constraints as a major barrier to technology integration).
- Teacher preparedness gap: The research suggests that many educators feel apprehensive about integrating AI into their lessons. Concerned about their own digital competencies and anxieties about moving out of their comfort zones contribute to this resistance. (A 2021 ISTE survey found only 46% of teachers are confident in technology integration).
- Equity and access disparities: Unequal access to technology at home and school widens existing achievement gaps, with students from disadvantaged backgrounds facing additional hurdles in utilizing AI-powered learning tools. A 2022 Pew Research Center study highlights that nearly two-thirds (63%) of adults in American households (>$100,000 salary) have home broadband, a desktop or laptop computer, and a smartphone, compared to only 23% of those in households with < $30,000 salary.
- Fear of change and resistance to innovation: Some educational stakeholders, including teachers and administrators, may oppose new technologies due to anxieties about potential disruptions to established practices or concerns about the effectiveness of the technology itself.
- Standardized testing focus: The continued emphasis on standardized tests, often prioritizing traditional knowledge and skills assessment, discourages experimentation with innovative, technology-driven pedagogies. (A 2022 Education Policy Analysis Archives study argues that standardized testing discourages tech integration).
- Data privacy and security concerns: Protecting student data in the digital age necessitates robust safeguards and transparent policies, sometimes introducing delays or limitations in technology adoption. (A 2023 NASPAE survey identifies data privacy as a top concern for school administrators).
Nations taking baby steps:
Although it is not like nobody is trying, some nations, like Finland or Estonia, understand the gravity of the matter. In Finland, the early development of the child is undertaken through playful AI integration in learning. Estonia leverages AI-powered tools for personalized pathways, a trend that most Asian nations have not even remotely connected to.
South Korea boldly sets ambitious goals to incorporate AI across all curriculum levels by 2025. Singapore, capitalizing on its data analytics expertise, utilizes AI to tailor assessments and learning pathways for developing personalized experiences for each student.
While other nations are investing in incorporating AI into education curricula, China is carefully leveraging its stringent rules to control AI expansion and implications.
China is incorporating a moral compass into the education system. Although the methods are questionable- such as forcing students to not turn their heads up to any disturbances at any costs or introducing patriotic subjects in the syllabus; the noble intentions behind China’s bold moves are understandable.
These policies, however, go against the human nature of protecting against danger, the practice is highly encouraged in Chinese schools.
UAE has leveraged AI in different senses. It is more focused on training teachers to integrate AI into education. This goes by the 2020 report by the Center for American Progress, which emphasized the need for ‘building trust and confidence among the educators’ so that they do not feel threatened by changing technological developments.
Education system reforms integrating AI are happening, but not at the required pace. While the technology is developed by the older generation, the younger generation needs to be ready for the seamless handover when the right time comes.