Harnessing AI for School Projects

Photo by Bernard Marr bernardmarr.com
Photo by Bernard Marr

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our daily lives has been astounding. From virtual personal assistants such as Alexa. to self-driving cars; AI has quickly and continues to change various aspects of our lives. One particularly relevant field where AI is gaining momentum is in education, more specifically in school projects and homework assignments.

While the use of AI is mostly fully prohibited, there are also several benefits that could come from allowing use of AI. In this post, I will quickly explore the use of AI in school projects and homework assignments and whether it should be allowed, and if so, to what extent?

The Benefits of AI in Education:

First off, AI can assist students in research by quickly sifting through huge amounts of information or databases, finding relevant sources, summarizing large texts and. This can save students a lot of time which can then be spent to improve the quality of their research and assignments.

AI can also give instant feedback on assignments, for example: helping students find spelling mistakes and correcting these, this is an example which almost everyone is already familiar with but AI could be further used to improve overall layouts of assignments and reports by rearranging paragraphs or rewording certain sentences. This increases readability and if used correctly, could also give proper feedback. These benefits are also especially useful to assist students who might have extra difficulties with this such as people who have dyslexia.

Ethical concerns:

While the benefits of integrating AI into education are clear, there are ethical concerns that need to be addressed, mainly the reason why AI is mostly prohibited in schoolwork: The authenticity of work and the plagiarism issue.

The use of AI does raise questions about the authenticity of the students’ assignment. If AI is only used to fully generate or complete assignments, it undermines the purpose of studying and learning.

Furthermore, AI can encourage plagiarism if students use it to generate content without crediting the sources where the AI pulled information from, which is disrespectful to the rightful author of the source material but also could make the assignments unreliable since people can’t retrace the information to the source.

Finding the Right Balance:

AI should be able to be used as a tool to help with and increase the quality and effectiveness of learning, research speed and data analysis but AI must not be used to replace critical thinking and creativity from the students themselves.

So how do we draw the line and make sure the students actually stick to them?

Of course schools should set clear guidelines on the possible use of AI in assignments, emphasizing the importance of original work, proper citation, and responsible AI use. Unfortunately there is not really a way to make sure students stick to these rules. Students will always find ways to cheat and even while AI now is mostly prohibited, it is currently still being used to write assignments.

So instead of trying to stop the uses of AI, why not try and create assignments and learning methods that could both incorporate/not exclude the uses of AI (especially since we’re going to see a whole lot more of it in the future) while also making sure that the assignments retain the personal creative input of the students.

As a fun way to end this post I asked Chat GPT to give me examples of such assignments to show that this is definitely doable and because I find it funny to incorporate AI in a post about why we can’t use AI in school assignments. The best answers it gave me were:

  • “Debate and Argumentation: Assign students to participate in a debate on a complex topic. While they can use AI for initial research and gathering data, they must craft their arguments, counterarguments, and engage in live or recorded debates, showcasing their critical thinking, communication skills, and ability to defend their position.”
  • “Case Studies and Problem-Solving: Provide students with real-world case studies or complex problems. While they can use AI to analyse data and suggest possible solutions, they must also identify the underlying issues, propose strategies, and justify their recommendations. Emphasize the importance of human judgment in decision-making. “
  • “Science Experiments and Lab Reports: For science courses, students can conduct experiments with the help of AI for data collection and analysis. However, they must design the experiments, formulate hypotheses, plan procedures, and draw conclusions based on their scientific understanding. Lab reports should reflect their active involvement in the “scientific process. “
  • “Art and Design Projects: In art and design classes, students can incorporate AI-generated elements, such as textures or patterns, into their projects. The emphasis should be on their creative vision, concept development, and the integration of AI as a complementary tool, not a replacement for artistic expression. “
  • “Interviews and Surveys: In social sciences or research-focused courses, students can use AI tools to collect and process survey data. However, they should design the research questions, conduct interviews, and interpret the findings, highlighting their involvement in “the research process. “