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Is ChatGPT the end of education as we know it? 3 Takeaways from the Panel Discussion

Peter Williamson

While the label “disruptive” has been applied to pretty much every new tech development over the past decade, ChatGPT (and by extension, AI) has already managed to rack up a higher user count in the first days after going live than other giants such as Instagram or Facebook did in months, and can be considered a tipping point for AI in general.

Link to the full panel recording here.

Our panel was joined by:

Oliver Janoschka - Managing Director of the renowned german think-tank “Hochschulforum Digitalisierung”, focused on the digital transformation of higher education.Dr.

Dr. Ana-Maria Olteteanu - AI Researcher and Professor at Tomorrow University

Dr. Stephan Bredt - Director General at the Hessian Ministry of Economy

Fabian Westerheide - Founder of the Rise of AI conference and Managing Director at Asgard Capital

Richard Menning - CTO of Novaheal, a learning app for nursing staff, and student at ToU

Hosted by Tomorrow University’s Co-Founder, Christian Rebernik

ChatGPT and AI are here to stay — only if we actually use them can we develop the smartest and most helpful uses for them

While New York City’s Department of Education may have banned ChatGPT from the classroom (for now), our panel took a very different view on the issue. When Wikipedia was first introduced, using it felt like cheating to Fabian Westerheide — but in the end, he says, it was just a more innovative way to access information by googling instead of going to the library. As technology is out there, we have to adapt to it and use it creatively.

When the Guttenberg printing press was first invented, many feared the decay of knowledge, which was often primarily memorized, Dr. Olteteanu remarked. However, each new step in technology also changes the way we use our minds — we co-evolve with our tools. She also sees great potential for AI to translate, for instance, technical research into easier language for those outside of that particular field for better understanding across disciplines.

For Richard Menning, AI-assisted translation will also make it easier to train people filling jobs in the care sector, allowing them easier integration into the job market. Stephan Bredt noted that he thinks the widespread usage of AIs like ChatGPT will further accelerate the quality of AI-assisted learning, as the models are continuously being trained with massive amounts of input.

AI-assisted learning and the tools it offers will force us to ask many questions about how we want to learn and work in the near future

For our panelists, AI offers many opportunities to improve education in different ways. Rote tasks, such as correcting exams or analyzing student texts, could be taken up by AI assistants, thus freeing up more time for teachers and professors to engage with students and design creative classes, argues Oliver Janoschka. For him, this creates an enormous potential for more student-centric learning, allowing for more individualized learning pathways.

Dr. Olteteanu argues that this will change the role of teachers from “knowledge providers” to inspiring role models and offers an excellent opportunity for more flexible and customized education adapted to the student’s own learning speed and needs.

Fabian Westerheide adds that education should not just optimize us for work. Still, for life in general — AI will free us up to focus on the places and tasks where people skills and human interaction are key, such as roles in education and nursing.

We need techno-literate governments and institutions that do not just react but can play a proactive role in the development of AI tools across society

Oliver Janoschka sees a hidden risk in a gap between institutions that apply the potential of AI and the ones that are hesitant to adopt it. The same applies to learners — some, like his son, are eagerly using it already, while others might not take it up so quickly. He fears that this could create a new polarising effect, and we need to ask how we can address this at a policy level to make use of the new technological potential.

Stephan Bredt argues that public institutions should open up, so that AIs do not just draw on existing data silos for their answers but have access to deep arrays of knowledge to prevent misinformation — which is essential to functioning democracies in a time of fake news and misinformation spreading rapidly. AI tools offer the opportunity to reskill or upskilling through government programs more effectively and flexibly. For him, a healthy ecosystem across institutions engaged in integrating AI into education is crucial for this — not just for higher education, but also for people already in their careers.

We highly enjoyed this amazing and fruitful discussion with our panelists and guests, which certainly prompts us to think further about the future role of AI in education. This phenomenon is going to shape 2023 and beyond decisively. We look forward to the next panel!

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Peter Williamson
Peter Williamson

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