Teachers are helpless to deal with the growing use of generative AI in classrooms but, at the same time, are using the technology improperly to help save time in their over-worked existence.
At least half of teachers have had to mark assignments they were certain had been written by ChatGPT or similar platforms but their schools had no policies to deal with the program, experts told the House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training. There are currently no tools available to help teachers detect AI-generated content, the panel told legislators.
However, the experts also made clear that the generative AI should not be viewed as a threat to traditional schooling in Australia in isolation. In fact, they said that the use of generative AI by students and teachers reflected a broader problem of under-funding.
“There is confusion [in schools] about plagiarism detection, and tools that can detect whether [text] is AI-generated,” said Dr James Curran, the Grok Academy charity that helps schools teach about digital technology.
“The technology fundamentally does not allow that in a deep way and anyone that is selling you technology that says that it can is off track.”
As reported in the AFR, Curran explained to the committee that he had used ChatGPT to complete a NSW HSC exam and found that the free version of the software scored 48 per cent. The $31 per month paid version scored 78 per cent.
“And there are two questions where the AI gets an answer that I think is more correct than the HSC markers for that particular year.
“So if you want to pay $US240 a year as a parent, that’s giving you at least a 30 per cent bump in the kind of results that a system can generate,” he said.
This growing use of generative AI among students could reinforce education inequities between the richer and poorer members of Australian society.
“Already we see inequity in the distribution of access to the tools. If it’s $US240 for ChatGPT but there’s no progressive pricing system [and] you’re looking at a school with a thousand kids … that’s a quarter of a million dollars,” said professor Leslie Loble, former deputy secretary in the NSW Department of Education who now chairs the national Council on Early Childhood Development.
“That’s the equivalent of three teachers,” she said.
This disparity in the use and understanding of generative AI tools among students and teachers, alike could cause serious problems for the Australian school system and, ergo, the talent pipeline into our tech businesses.
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