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AI in Education: Will Generative AI Replace Human Teachers?

As AI, particularly generative AI, continues to evolve, questions arise about its role in education. Can AI revolutionize teaching and replace human educators, or is there an essential element of human connection that machines can't replicate?

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, a new player is emerging—the generative AI. This technology, often celebrated for its transformative potential, has ignited a debate about the future of teaching. Will AI replace human teachers, or is there an irreplaceable human touch that machines can never emulate?

Recent discussions in Ireland have revolved around reducing the Professional Masters In Education (PME) from two years to one—a move aimed at easing the financial burden on prospective teachers and addressing recruitment crises in schools. However, this proposal brings its own set of challenges and controversies.

Generative AI, powered by large language models, has the potential to revolutionize education. Some see it as a tool for cheating, while others envision it as an invaluable assistant to teachers. AI can generate lesson plans, assessments, and more, allowing educators to focus on interactive teaching.

The traditional model of education, often likened to a "factory" or "industrial" approach, involves an adult teacher in a classroom with students of the same age. However, history reveals that education has taken various forms, including the monitorial system, where older students led groups.

Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, believes that generative AI heralds a true revolution in education. Khanmigo, developed in partnership with OpenAI, is an AI tutorial system that encourages critical thinking rather than providing direct answers. It targets both teachers and students, promising to reduce workload and enhance student learning.

Newark's public schools participated in a pilot program using Khanmigo, resulting in mixed reviews. The AI tutor initially offered excessive assistance, highlighting the need for continuous improvement. AI's role in education is still evolving.

Throughout history, various innovations, from motion pictures to videos, were touted as educational revolutions. However, the fundamental role of a teacher in making students feel important and accountable for their learning remains unchanged.

While AI, including generative AI, has its limitations, it continues to evolve and improve. Over time, it may become more accurate and better at addressing student queries.

Teaching extends beyond knowledge transfer. The essence of education lies in the connection between students and caring teachers who foster accountability for learning.

The debate over AI's role in education is ongoing. While generative AI holds promise in streamlining educational processes, the irreplaceable human element of teaching and accountability remains a defining feature of quality education. The future of education may incorporate AI, but it will likely always depend on the dynamic between educators and students.