11 May 2023 at 10:30 am

Continuing the discussion on the impact of AI on education

Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) hosted a seminar in late April looking at how emerging technology is changing the way we learn, teach, and innovate.  


Since ChatGPT’s (Chat Generative Pretrained Transformer) launch in November last year, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool has featured heavily in headlines around the world, sparking conversations from boardrooms, to classrooms, and around the dining room table. Discussions on the significant impact this tool and future AI technology is having on how we teach, assess, and support our students here in New Zealand’s education system are happening in all areas of our sector, including here at Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ), 

A particular discussion during a recent EdTechNZ panel webinar on Artificial Intelligence and the impact on Education, looked at where educators may want to focus their valuable time now that generative AI platforms are available. For example, do educators want to spend their time researching topics, analysing data, and producing unique activities of work, or spend it on building meaningful relationships and place-based experiences with and for learners; gaining insights into learners’ interests, engaging in critical thinking activities and deepening learners experience of and outcomes in education? 

Following EdTechNZ’s interesting and successful March webinar which can be viewed here; Artificial Intelligence and the impact on education, ENZ hosted an in-person seminar at our Tāmaki Makaurau offices in late April. This seminar's purpose was to look deeper at how this emerging technology is changing the way we learn, teach, and innovate. 

Professor Ian Watson, recent past professor at the University of Auckland, spoke to a group from across the education spectrum including secondary schools, Private Training Establishments, EdTech founders, Education Publishers, Google, about AI and its impact on education.  

Professor Watson is considered an AI pioneer with 30+ years in the AI machine learning environment and reflected on the history of AI, including that it is not a new or sudden phenomenon, and its progress over time.  

“AI imitates intelligence and is great at the specific but not so much the general. For example, aircraft use AI to be able to perform extremely specific flight tasks, but it will never be able to suggest a recipe and cook it!”, Professor Watson said.  

“Within education, AI will certainly provide value in routine, mundane and repetitive tasks such as grading, lesson planning, report writing but in the hard and difficult tasks such as developing a universal design for learning and differentiated or targeted learning, it has its flaws. It is not always factually correct and still needs a human to educate it”. 

Professor Watson also talked about how important it is, critical even, to teach learners how to use these tools, so they are empowered. Such tools include the likes of AI4K12 for K-12 learners. 

Anyone looking for more insights and conversations about AI should check out the TechWeek23 programme with over 400 in person and online events to be hosted from 13 – 20 May.  

Techweek AI focussed online events of note include:  

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