Artificial Intelligence: Applications in Education (2024)

Artificial intelligence has become a popular topic of discussion since the release of impressive applications like ChatGPT and Midjourney. Its disruptive power is radically changing education. In the process, various exciting AI applications are applicable today or in the near future. Goethe Business School has been using a strong digital toolbox for many years to offer students the most value through digital tools as part of their management education. Andrea Anderheggen, CMO at MaxBrain – Goethe Business School's technology partner – will provide us with an overview of the exciting possibilities for the future of education.

Since early 2023, AI has transformed numerous industries, notably education. The rising trend of utilizing ChatGPT for learning reflects this shift. What do you think about this?

ChatGPT is the fastest-growing end-user product in human history to date. According to a report by Reuters, ChatGPT has gained over 100 million users within just two months of its release. More and more people use ChatGPT to learn new things. Thousands of videos on YouTube today explain how to use this new technology to learn languages, programming, history, general life questions, and much more. In addition, artificial intelligence sets new standards and demands on humans regarding our understanding, critical faculties, and ethical principles.

As a learning expert, can you give us an insight into the AI applications that you expect to provide the most significant benefit/risk to education?

We already use some of the following applications daily as part of our learning content services. Additionally, we plan to incorporate more of them in developing the MaxBrain learning platform for students and alumni at Goethe Business School. However, the field of AI for education is extensive and covers many topics. Some of our forecasts will likely prove wrong, one-sided, or shortsighted. Nevertheless, it is worth looking at a few fascinating prospects for the future:

  • Create texts faster thanks to AI: Anyone querying ChatGPT for known topics will immediately receive a qualitative answer in the top 10% of possible answers. Today’s applications are available in impressive quality. On top of that, instead of taking 30 minutes to correct or summarize three A4 pages, ChatGPT can do it in 15 seconds or less. It can also simplify the language using artificial intelligence or change the tone. However, current AI tools are still largely dependent on data sources from the internet or learning processes in interaction with humans or internal data. If there is nothing or too little information about a specific topic, an A.I. can still contribute little of high quality in creating learning content. However, AI can be breathtakingly creative, assuming that creativity consists of recombining existing information. Some experts already expect that it will be able to conduct research & development on its own - with radical consequences for humanity. Today, there is a risk that AI tools based on false information on the internet will create inaccurate content. This stems from the problem of distinguishing between facts, fake news, and half-truths.
  • Conversion to other media: Anyone who creates content knows the problem of finding suitable images or creating them themselves. It can be time-consuming to find an image that fits a specific topic. I still find it time-consuming to use AI tools when creating images. However, artificial intelligence is gaining traction quickly, and many images I use in marketing are already fully AI-generated. In addition to fast-growing startups like Midjourney, global market leaders like Adobe are working hard on the topic e.g. Photoshop and other software tools from the Adobe Creative Cloud are still in the very beginning of their development but are improving their AI features on a daily frequency and already provide useful applications of detailed design tasks. Besides that, audio formats are becoming increasingly popular. Once you discover the possibility of using podcasts to turn the time spent in a traffic jam into valuable learning time, you will permanently appreciate the audio format. In some cases - such as jobs requiring a lot of travel time - audio formats are often the only way to consume learning content while working. On the other hand, video is the most convenient and, therefore, preferred format to consume content on the internet. The problem with videos: Creating videos is time-consuming, usually expensive, and requires specific knowledge. Artificial intelligence will also speed up video creation but is only developing it now: After all, videos are the ultimate combination of texts, audio, and image sequences.
  • Predictive analytics involves data analysis to predict and exploit future events or outcomes. Not a new idea: Many tech companies and SMEs claim to be "data-driven." However, many traditional companies still do not collect data systematically, and the few that do often do not use data in a relevant way at all or only to a limited extent. The big challenge: Selecting the relevant dataset from large amounts of data and utilizing it effectively is challenging, requires lots of imagination, and often means more work. So, what is changing now? AI can quickly, automatically, and precisely evaluate and add value to data through faster, automated cross-references. We are at the beginning of a development here that is fundamentally changing all industries, including education!
  • The personal AI coach: Another groundbreaking idea for education is that of AI coaches who provide individualized guidance to learners. As in other areas - such as medical, psychological, or legal care - experts debate whether every person should have their own coach to learn faster, more efficiently, and more targeted. For example, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, which is very successful in the US, presented the implementation of an AI coach for primary education at a TED talk in 2023.

How is AI changing education and the demands placed on us humans?

In many respects, humans are still far superior to the new artificial intelligence regarding emotionality, creativity, and consciousness of what really matters. This applies to teachers, coaches, and mentors who are still leading education and, thus, the knowledge of humankind. However, artificial intelligence is changing education forever. The education industry must learn how to deal with the new possibilities of artificial intelligence - or risk losing relevance.

As learners and educators, we must understand how to deal with new artificial intelligence applications, consequences, and potential. Artificial intelligence changes our learning content and learning processes and requires new skills and competencies. Many of the existing human competencies will be fully taken over by artificial intelligence. Such competencies will become obsolete for us. What this means in concrete terms is still open. However, some essential skills are foreseeable today.

  • We need to know and learn to formulate wishes or “prompts" more precisely. Artificial intelligence is comparable to a genie. The more precisely we prepare our wishes, the more likely the AI tools can help us. Which is easier said than done.
  • We must learn to review information critically. The responsibility of carefully reviewing information, texts, images, or videos of artificial intelligence is followed by another, much more difficult one:
  • We need to agree on a universal ethic. This requirement is probably the most difficult and, at some point, possibly the most important: There is no such thing as universally accepted ethics (yet), and the world is becoming more and more polarized or even personalized among individuals. This leads to a very challenging question: How can humans define uniform ethical guidelines for artificial intelligence if we cannot even establish such guidelines among ourselves?

What problems do you think an absence of agreed ethical rules causes for education?

We will have to answer the following and other difficult questions if we do not want to risk AI applications turning into a mere instrument of power for a few interest groups:

  • Segmentation vs. discrimination: How does one ensure that the personalization of learning programs via data-driven segmentation of learners does not lead to discrimination against individual learners?
  • Freedom to learn vs. course recommendations: To what extent will there be a freedom of knowledge if course recommendations only display learning content that an AI's algorithm calculates to be appropriate for individual learners?
  • Data protection: How is learning data used and protected in a way that does not violate their rights?
  • Creativity: How do you ensure that people remain creative when artificial intelligence provides you with the framework of knowledge and creativity?

What advice do you have for individuals worried about the current progress of AI?

"Knowledge is power“, as Francis Bacon said 500 years ago. And learning determines our knowledge. I see no other option than to simply trust the leading developers of powerful tools and occasionally steer them in an acceptable direction via boycotts or laws, as we have already had to do more or less successfully with the inventors of the atomic bomb, genetics, the computer, the Internet or the iPhone. Instead of fighting the unstoppable development of artificial intelligence, it makes much more sense to minimize its risks, understand its potential, and use it for the benefit of all of us.

You can find the full article Artificial intelligence: applications in education (2024) on the MaxBrain website for a more detailed overview and reviews of new tools.