The Proficient Use of AI in Education

The use of AI is not a problem.
A lack of proficient use of AI may be a problem.

Dr Thomas Lancaster

This quote is taken from a recent presentation I delivered, which resonated with the audience.

As a computer scientist, who both uses AI regularly and supports students to develop AI systems (many of whom have gone on to work with the world’s largest technology companies), I view AI as something that cannot be ignored.

It is easy to go into a tool that uses generative AI (such as ChatGPT,) type in a prompt, and be fascinated by a response. With the correct prompt, the output can be useful in both educational and workplace settings.

Being able to create prompts and critically evaluate the quality of the output will be an essential skill. It is a skill that we have to ensure that all students have.

At the same time, writing a prompt to interface with a simple chatbot does not demonstrate AI expertise. It is the type of beginner level skill that we may well expect students to have long before they arrive at university.

Future AI systems will have capabilities that we have not considered. We will not interface with them solely by creating prompts. Proficient users will be developing and training new models, interfacing with proprietary systems in companies, developing AI output programmatically.

That is the world that we need to be preparing students (and staff) for. Not simply writing a prompt and generating an essay, which is largely worthless in the grand scheme of things.

If this post resonates with you, do feel free to use the shareable graphic provided, and do contact me regarding (paid) speaking and training opportunities.

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