Student perceptions

Student Forums 2023: Exploring the Significance of Generative AI for Students

A student chats with their mentor in their office.

Recently, we organised five discussion forums for tertiary education students, on Generative AI. Our aim was to understand how students are currently using this technology and explore its potential impact on their learning experience. To ensure a broad range of perspectives, we conducted both online and face-to-face sessions, allowing students to engage and express their thoughts anonymously.  This is the final post of a series of five blog posts sharing insights from the forums.

As education continues to evolve in the digital age, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, specifically generative AI, has become a topic of intense discussion. Students hold diverse opinions regarding the use of generative AI tools.

In this blog, we delve into why AI and in particular generative AI is important to students.

Employment opportunities:
Generative AI plays a pivotal role in preparing students for the ever-evolving job market. Students are acutely aware of the potential ramifications of automation and foresee the possibility of job displacement. However, they also recognise the emergence of new and potentially improved employment opportunities on the horizon. Understanding the importance of adaptability, students express a desire to equip themselves with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in this next era of work. They are seeking support from educational institutions to bridge the gap between current curricula and the evolving demands of the job market, ensuring they are well-prepared for their futures.

Students firmly believe that AI, including generative AI, can greatly benefit their educational experience. They emphasise that AI is already pervasive in the workplace and argue that it should be an integral part of their education. They advocate for the adaptation and transformation of educational systems and processes to incorporate AI, while also highlighting the importance of defining clear boundaries. Students assert that embracing AI would enhance the credibility of educational institutions, complementing the reputation of lecturers. They urge the development of sector-wide policies to ensure equitable access to AI resources.

Human Impact & Sustainability:
Students recognise that the consequences of AI implementation are often felt most strongly in developing nations, exacerbating existing inequalities. Additionally, they express apprehension regarding the environmental footprint of AI technologies, particularly their effects on water consumption and carbon emissions. Students emphasised the need for ethical and sustainable practices in AI development and deployment, aiming to mitigate potential harm and promote responsible use.  They advocate for fair and transparent algorithms, inclusive outcomes, and environmentally conscious approaches to minimize the negative impact of AI.

Active discussions:
Students aspire to play an active role in discussions surrounding AI and their own education. They believe that inclusive participation and the collective effort of stakeholders are vital in ensuring AI integration is implemented correctly. Students assert that open dialogue and inclusive decision-making processes are crucial in shaping AI integration in education.

In conclusion, generative AI is of great significance to students in various aspects of their lives. By empowering students, amplifying their voices, and addressing their concerns, we can collaboratively shape a future that harnesses the transformative potential of generative AI while prioritising their well-being, success, and positive impact on society.

Find out more by visiting our National centre for AI page to view publications and resources, join us for events and discover what AI has to offer through our range of interactive online demos.

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