In this day and age, the world is marked by rapid technological development. Subsequently, educational institutions face an unprecedented dilemma: how to tackle the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to stay ahead in the game. I had the opportunity to interview IT consultant, Bauke van der Weijden – who serves secondary schools as a client – to shed light on this matter. The conversation gave me new insights and created a clear picture of the current state of AI in education – or, perhaps more accurately, the lack thereof – as well as the elements that keep educational institutions from embracing and implementing game-changing innovation. This raises an important question: Are schools prepared and willing to educate and mentor students in this modern day of artificial intelligence?
Catching the AI Wave
One of the most striking findings from the interview was the blatant ignorance about digitalisation within schools. Many educational institutions appear to be behind in implementing AI, although this technology continues to transform sectors all around the globe. IT consultant Van der Weijden notes that “Educational institutions are very reactive”. This reactivity is demonstrated by how these institutions often play catch-up, particularly in the area of AI. This brings about a digitalisation knowledge gap since schools find it difficult to keep up with their technically proficient students. The gap in understanding places schools at a noticeable disadvantage, while educational institutions should actually be leading ahead of the curve in digitalisation and educating students for a future in which AI will undoubtedly be a crucial part.
One of the most striking findings from the interview was the blatant ignorance about digitalisation within schools.
Tackling Educational Apathy
Besides the lack of awareness, within educational institutions, there is also a reluctance that prevents the implementation of AI. IT consultant Bauke van der Weijden faces this a lot in his daily work. The staff at schools do not see the benefits of implementing AI, as they have other priorities. This lack of motivation is one of the biggest obstacles to integrating AI into educational institutions. Many teachers and other school staff appear uninterested in the notion of digitalisation, thereby also ignoring the opportunities that AI can bring to them. For IT consultants wanting to introduce AI into the educational industry, the apathy among school staff presents a significant hurdle.
This lack of motivation is one of the biggest obstacles to integrating AI into educational institutions.
AI as a Classroom Cop
Many educational institutions have yet to fully grasp the potential that AI provides in today’s quickly digital environment. Academic integrity worries have been a major factor in many institutions’ decision to introduce AI into the classroom. As a result, the widespread opinion within education is centred around employing AI as a safety precaution, a watchdog looking out for possible risks like plagiarism. Van der Weijden emphasizes that schools primarily consider AI from a security standpoint, utilizing technologies like ChatGPT to screen for potential violations of academic sincerity. But is this the real potential of AI in education? Hardly.
Exploring AI’s Potential
The application of AI in education goes beyond mere plagiarism detection. According to Van der Weijden, “There are also increasingly better AI tools,” not just for detection but also to completely alter how subjects are educated and evaluated. Schools need to be receptive to the opportunities that AI can bring. However, according to Van der Weijden, it is still unpredictable what AI will exactly bring in the future: “The applications are so versatile. All we know is that the ones who start using it first will be the frontrunners in what they do.” While students quickly adopt AI, schools frequently fall behind, behaving in response rather than inventing. Institutions of higher learning require a paradigm shift rather than just trying to “keep up with what the market will do.”
From Digital Guard to Guide
The interview with Van der Weijden sheds light on the need for educational institutions to close the digital gap. AI shouldn’t be viewed as solely a detecting tool. It should be seen as a collaborator with the potential to completely alter how we transmit and consume knowledge. The incorporation of AI into the curriculum is not only advantageous but also necessary given its capacity to offer individualized learning experiences, immediate feedback, and data-driven insights. Schools should begin educating staff members and students on the advantages and disadvantages of this disruptive technology as well as how to use it effectively to navigate and code a new curriculum.
AI shouldn’t be viewed as solely a detecting tool. It should be seen as a collaborator with the potential to completely alter how we transmit and consume knowledge.
Consultant’s Call to Action
What is the real problem? Reactivity versus Proactivity. Educational institutions can no longer afford to remain spectators in a world where AI is pervasive. Schools need to change from being reactionary institutions to becoming proactive ones. Consultants should also take on this proactive role. Before technologies like ChatGPT become commonplace among students, consultants should speak with schools about the possible uses and abuses of these platforms, as Van der Weijden accurately puts it. The difference between what students already know and what they need to know about AI might be bridged with a proactive approach. IT consultants need to do more than just share their technical insight and expertise to increase schools’ adoption of AI. They should take an active role in engaging schools in discussion about the revolutionary possibilities of AI, as well as providing practical learning approaches, like workshops and training. A practical approach will aid educational institutions in gaining the knowledge and confidence to effectively incorporate AI into their curricula.
Educational institutions can no longer afford to remain spectators in a world where AI is pervasive.
Thus, to entirely tackle the power of AI, schools should change their perspective. It’s time to embrace AI as an ally, a tool that can not only discover errors but also improve the educational environment, rather than viewing it only as a danger or a gatekeeper. It’s an appeal to lead, create, and establish a standard for the future rather than merely keeping up with the times. The future of education with AI is not just promising—it is exhilarating—from where we stand right now.
This blog is part of the student writing competition in Management Consulting Master Program at the School of Business and Economics.