Artificial Intelligence (AI) is shaping the future of education, and universities need to cautiously embrace it.

The use of AI can make knowledge more accessible, assist in critical thinking and problem-solving, and remove busy work, all leading to improved academic outcomes, according to 450 students surveyed by academics from universities in Sydney and Hong Kong.

The students recognized that AI tools like ChatGPT were helpful for summarizing, brainstorming, explaining, and suggesting.

It made it easier for them to learn complex topics in a conversational way. In fact, students found ChatGPT useful for quick definitions and discussions, particularly when they were confused in class.

One of the students said that they had a mostly positive experience and received clear explanations of new concepts. Another student said:

“To grab quick definitions, explain concepts to me, and assist in discussions when the conversation goes quiet or people are confused.”

Students Realize Risks Coming from AI Tools

Some students noted that they spotted the nuances of the technology as their experience with it increased.

In particular, one student said ChatGPT would miss important points or misunderstand questions. “That’s why I am not relying on it for assignments, instead it is very helpful for my daily learning,” they added.

Another student stated that using AI improved their critical thinking skills as they were able to critique ChatGPT’s work.

In the survey, the bulk majority of students (more than 80%) claimed that they understand AI is not always accurate and that they realize its limitations and potential inaccuracies.

Meanwhile, students said that AI could have a major impact on their future careers as it could remove less desirable parts of work, allowing them to focus on more important aspects of critical thinking and problem-solving.

Furthermore, AI can help in reducing the burden of tasks such as data entry and analysis.

Students said they want their teachers to teach them “how to best use AI tools and make AI tools a common part of education, just like PowerPoint and Excel”.

Concerns About Access and Ethics Remain

Students who participated in the survey said they are concerned about the disadvantages lack of access to AI would mean for some students, arguing that all students should have the same resources.

This comes as schools globally and locally have taken different approaches to AI tools, with many taking a harsh stance toward this emerging technology.

Just recently, Tokyo-based Sophia University banned students from using ChatGPT and other AI chatbots to write assignments such as essays, reports, and theses.

Prior to that, the New York City Department of Education blocked the chatbot from school networks and devices across the district, citing concerns over plagiarism, as well as the bot’s accuracy.

Seattle Public Schools and Los Angeles Unified School District put similar limits on the use of the bot in December. A number of other major international universities have also imposed a ban on AI tools.

Nevertheless, students said they believe AI is set to be a challenging yet important opportunity. They stated:

“The traditional ways of learning […] are changing. But this technology is now our present and the future, we need our teachers to prepare us for it.”

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