Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already revolutionising various fields of human endeavour. In the last few years, we have seen it finding its way into education, particularly in digital learning. A significant impact has been felt regarding generative AI, a subset of AI that uses algorithms to create content, such as images, videos, and text. This is hoped to have a far-reaching influence that has the potential to transform how people learn and acquire knowledge.
AI allows personalised learning experiences for all learners at all levels. With the use of AI Algorithms, it is expected that digital learning platforms can collect data and relevant information on the learners’ learning styles, preferences, strengths and weaknesses and curate or even tailor the learning experience that meets the individual needs; in essence, facilitating differentiated learning. This approach ensures that the learners receive content that also meets their needs, triggering interests at a personalised pace and within the scale of their learning style, promoting engagement and retention.
AI is transforming digital learning through its ability to automate certain aspects of the learning process, such as grading and assessment tracking. For educators with time constraints, this opens doors for them to personalise their support and provide real-time feedback to their learners. It also becomes an opportunity for them to identify areas where the learners are grappling with understanding, enabling them to intervene and provide additional support before they fall behind. This will also offer opportunities for highly gifted and talented learners to receive adequate support to enable them to reach their highest potential.
Another impact of AI in digital learning lies in the learning platforms where these AI-powered systems can leverage natural language processing (NLP) to support and facilitate interactive conversations between virtual assistants, chatbots and learners. This approach provides much-needed real-time feedback and support, enhancing the learning experience through engagement and personalisation.
To improve the quality of digital learning content, digital learning platforms can utilise machine learning algorithms to analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of the learning materials. This will enable them to identify improvement areas and optimise the content for maximum impact.
AI tools like Chat GPT, an AI language model, are a good platform for teachers to experiment with lesson planning, project-based learning ideas and rubrics, and report writing templates, among many other practice areas. On the other hand, students have a rare opportunity to converse with it and gain deeper insights regarding a topic of interest, enabling them to develop multiple perspectives and experiences.
With all these opportunities, potential challenges need to be addressed in implementing Generative AI in Digital Learning. Among these are the ethical implications of using AI to collect and analyse student data, particularly regarding data privacy and security. Then there is over-reliance on AI which may result in a reduction in the human role of education. Generative AI has a challenge regarding bias in the information it can produce from time to time. This requires educators and learners to collaborate to verify and validate the authenticity of all the information generated.
It is incumbent on educators and digital learning platform developers to see how they will promote deep learning and the development of 21st-century skills such as critical thinking in their practice. There is a need to develop material and assessment prompts that promote deep learning instead of surface learning.
In conclusion, we can all agree that Generative AI significantly impacts teaching, learning and assessment and influences digital learning. Through personalised learning, democratised content, and promoting academic engagement, we can all maximise AI’s benefits for education and digital learning while addressing ethical concerns. We owe it to our learners to always engage them with deep learning and metacognition; therefore, effective pedagogical AI integration in learning remains paramount.
Written by: Felix Malombe
Educational Technology Advisor
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