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Artificial intelligence can help unlock students' full potential

AI is a powerhouse for our classrooms

The scaremongering term artificial intelligence (AI) keeps being thrown around, seemingly as a scare tactic within the field of education and other professions. It is important to have human interaction within education. There is more to be unlocked with AI within our classroom space to help future generations be ready for what’s to come in the 21st century. Let us face it, our standards of education have fallen behind. According to “Data Pandas,” we currently sit at 13th regarding education rankings by country. Although that article isn’t meant to compare educational levels, it is important to note what the top five countries (Iceland, Germany, New Zealand, Norway and Denmark) all have in common: intertwining AI within education. 

Studies have suggested the benefits that using AI in the classroom has had on both teachers and students; firstly, the personalization of learning. I recall that during my Chinese political class last spring, my professor used an AI-generated image of a balloon over the Forbidden City in Beijing when the spy balloon incident occurred. This is one example of many where professors use AI in a classroom, including on a personal level where the image prompts us to think of reasonable solutions while applying concepts that we learned in the class to the situation. I could only imagine the potential AI has within engineering or biology classrooms as the technology continues to develop in amazing possibilities paving the way for further personalization of learning into narrower fields of research. Secondly, an important aspect is accessibility for students who have visual or hearing impairments to have access to high-quality information suitable to learning a subject or topic. The final benefit could be found in website efficiency. The University of Maine is trying its best in regard to improving efficiency to allow students to have access to information. When looking at other schools’ websites such as Syracuse University, American University and the University of Denver, the interface was pleasing. Importantly, the usability had a better experience to access key resources and felt more inviting. I feel that in a couple of years, UMaine’s website will be tailored towards easier access to information. 

Issues predominantly with cheating are commonplace by instructors. Those concerns are very valid when it comes to tests or important essays. The academic codes of integrity should be continuously updated with harsh zero-tolerance policies for cheating or plagiarizing on papers if proven with hard evidence of course. By hard evidence, I mean, actual definitive proof. This would lead to a decrease in the opportunity of students to cheat or plagiarize. Instead, they can write a paper with individual creative liberty as the instructor allows. Another issue of valid concern is lacking human interaction being observed with Generation Z. It is quite evident that we lack social awareness or emotional intelligence compared to our ancestors who had less technology and more opportunities to interact in order to build those social skills. This should be a prioritization for an instructor to ensure in a classroom to facilitate discussion of students while reminding students of personal responsibility if no interaction with material takes place. Obviously, I am not saying that the more introverted students are forced to speak out, because they typically have done the assignment and contribute in a different manner. It’s important to be cautious of the lack of human interaction facilitated by AI when creating games or activities. The final concern of many is privacy, where many issues have arisen. It is important for our governments and institutions to create a sophisticated firewall and protection of critical information from bad actors. Additionally, a crackdown on companies selling information or allowing access to those who will use such information in a bad manner. These sound simple, but they are the realistic options we have to continue building a robust system of AI where eventually, we can program AI to construct a firewall to protect information. 

UMaine has a motto of defining tomorrow which means we have the potential to define ourselves in the 21st century through good research departments as seen within engineering. I know it is a broad umbrella. However, we need to harness the power of AI to expand our potential for academic quality to become prestigious further. 

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