Call to evidence about how AI can transform education

Opportunities and risks of Artificial Intelligence (AI) needs to be understood in-order to realise its potential, the education secretary said today (14 June).

A new call of evidence to see how AI can be used to transform education in a positive way has been launched by the government for the 10-year anniversary of London Tech Week. 

Education secretary Gillian Keegan launched the call for evidence – which also asks for views on risks, ethical considerations, and training for education workers – in a speech to technology and education experts at London Tech Week.

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT and Google Bard are already making a difference in schools. 

The government say more work is needed to understand the benefits and get ahead of the risks that the technology could bring. It is seeking views and experiences from education professionals across schools, colleges, universities and early years sector.

The government said results of the call to evidence will provide a base to inform future work, including how AI could be used to reduce workload, improve outcomes, and run operations more efficiently as well as work around misuse such as essay bots and cheating in exams.

The Education Secretary also confirmed that courses for the new Digital Functional Skills qualifications (DFSQs) will begin in September, as well as the launch of a new Digital and Computing Skills Education Taskforce.

Gillian Keegan said: “Artificial intelligence is transforming the world around us and will help grow the economy. The workforces that are best equipped in AI with the skills they need will be the ones that ride the wave. We must make sure education is not left behind.

“For that potential to be realised, we need to understand the opportunities, as well as the real risks new technology brings.

“That’s why we want to kick-start a conversation with experts from across education and technology to hear their views and learn from their experiences…And this will help us make the right decisions to get the best out of generative AI in a safe and secure way.”

Open from today for anyone working in education, the call for evidence will run until 23 August 2023. The Department for Education said it will also speak to experts through forums, surveys, and interviews. 

The department said the aim is to gather insight on how generative AI is being used in schools, colleges, and universities, and how it could be used to support the sector in the future.

The launch follows the publication of a statement published in March 2023, setting out the department’s position on the use of generative AI.

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: AI promises to be one of the most impactful technologies of our lifetimes, and the UK is well positioned to be one of the leading countries unlocking the opportunities of this technology.

“However, in our UK Tech Plan, we stressed the importance of continuing to ensure we increase access to talent to both seize the benefits of AI and guard against its risks. Ending digital poverty is crucial if the UK aims to lead the conversation on AI on a global scale.

“The tech sector stands ready and willing to work closely with government and the education sector to ensure we can use AI in the best possible way to support pupils and educate them as they prepare to enter an increasingly digitally savvy workforce.” 

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