The Queensland government has started testing the use of an AI tool that tailors learning programs to students’ individual needs, mere days after Australian education ministers agreed on a framework guiding the use of AI technologies in classrooms around the country.
Queensland Minister for Education Grace Grace announced on Monday that an AI trial was already underway in 10 state schools.
The trial involves 500 students from Year 5 to Year 12 and will help teach subjects like English, physics, science, health, humanities and accounting.
The use of AI in education presents “new ways to support teaching and learning, prepare students for the jobs of the future, and reduce teacher workload”, according to the Queensland Minister for Education.
“There’s no doubt the recent explosion in AI presents some incredible opportunities in our classrooms,” Grace said.
“Like calculators and the internet before it, it’s going to change the way we teach and learn. For teachers, AI is about saving time, reduced workload and ensuring the technology is intuitive and easy to use.
“For students it provides a tailored interactive learning experience that quickly adapts to their individual needs.”
The emergence of widely available generative AI tools such as ChatGPT last year has created headaches and opportunities for the education sector.
This technology was initially seen as a free and easy-to-use plagiarism tool that is virtually impossible to detect, leading New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania to ban its use in state schools.
But there are also growing calls to embrace the technology or be left behind, including in education, where it presents immense opportunities to improve and tailor learning for students.
Instead of using a tool such as ChatGPT, the state government will be using AI teaching and learning platform Cerego for the trial.
Cerego is a US-based company founded in 2000 which offers education software that utilises machine learning and artificial intelligence. Its products have been used by the US Army and Air Force and the Arizona State University
The Queensland trial will involve Cerego using generative AI and machine learning to provide quiz-based learning that can quickly adjust to meet the needs of individual students.
In the trial, teachers will provide the platform with all of the parameters for the quiz, ensuring it is targeted to the needs of their students.
The Cerego machine learning platform will be trained on the answers provided by students to provide a personalised and tailored offering.
The tech will be more reliable than platforms like ChatGPT as it will only draw on accurate and approved information, Grace said, and its source information can be directly provided, based on a digitised version of the full Queensland state school curriculum.
“While we need the right support, we need the right safeguards too: we can’t have a situation where private data is sold off, where academic integrity is compromised, or where AI is used to bully students or target teachers,” Grace said.
“The views and experiences of teachers, students, schools and families will continue to be critical in developing Queensland’s approach to use of AI in state schools, and I very much look forward to hearing all about what we learn through this trial.”
The trial is in line with the Australian Framework for Generative Artificial Intelligence in Schools, which was agreed to by the country’s Education ministers last week. The framework is based on six principles: privacy, security and safety, human and social wellbeing, teachers and learning, transparency, fairness and accountability.
The full framework is expected to be released in the coming weeks. The Ministers also agreed to provide $1 million to Education Services Australia to establish product expectations on generative AI tech.
Insights from the AI in schools pilot will go towards the development of resources to provide guidance and information for all state schools on the use of AI in education next year.
While the Queensland government has steered clear from the most popular generative AI tool currently, ChatGPT, its creator OpenAI recently released a guide for teachers wanting to use it in the classroom.
The guide included education-tailored prompts designed to generate ChatGPT answers for education, such as creating lesson plans or personalised AI tutors.