Artificial intelligence (AI) must be part of the future of the nation’s school system, according to the Federal Education Minister Jason Clare.
“We are entering an age where AI has got to be part of education,” Minister Clare told teachers at a recent AI in Education conference in Sydney, as reported in The Australian.
“AI can help us to personalise education and make it more engaging and more effective for individual students.
“It can assist teachers by automating routine tasks such as grading, allowing them to focus on the more critical task of teaching and mentoring their students.
“The challenge is how do we harness the benefits of AI and also make sure it’s not misused.”
The Minister has asked the House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training to conduct an inquiry into the use of generative artificial intelligence in the Australian education system.
Minister Clare said Australia’s education ministers will meet on 6 July to discuss the first draft guidelines on the use of AI in schools.
National Catholic Education executive director Jacinta Collins said it was critical that the complex issues of policy, governance, privacy and equity surrounding the use of artificial intelligence are mapped out as part of the guidelines.
“The impact that AI will have on cognition is of significant concern, as well as the structures needed around AI to ensure it supplements what students are doing, rather than doing the thinking for them,” Jacinta said.
“We also need to understand how AI can be integrated into the classroom and the curriculum, and how teachers can be empowered to become competent incorporating AI into learning and teaching.”
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive David de Carvalho has called for greater focus on “facts and truth” in teaching.
Mr de Carvalho told The Australian students needed the “knowledge and wisdom” to detect lies, error, bias and deep fakes generated by AI.
The role of teachers as “authoritative sources of information, knowledge and wisdom” needed urgent buttressing, he said.
“Our children are inheriting a dystopian, brave new world and need to be equipped for the knowledge, capabilities and attitudes needed to renew and re-humanise the world.
“In addition to reading, writing, numeracy and digital literacy… ethical understanding, personal and social capability, intercultural understanding and critical and creative thinking are going to be more and more important.
“But this focus cannot come at the expense of factual knowledge and an emphasis on truth.”