Research insights: Can Artificial Intelligence applications replace the teacher?

Exploring the Future: Can AI-Powered Robots Transform Education?

In this era of digital transformation, the potential of AI applications to revolutionize various aspects of daily life is truly fascinating. It’s not just a matter of idle speculation. AI represents a tangible shift towards a future that may surpass our imagination. The impact of AI on how we manage our lives, particularly in education and academia, is insightful. Reflecting on Bill Gates’ prediction three decades ago about information accessibility, we now witness how technology has made information readily available at our fingertips, breaking down barriers of time and space. The implications for children’s education at schools and the evolution of academic work in any setting are significant. The transformative power of AI in these domains is not just a possibility; it’s becoming a reality that continues to unfold in ways we may never have anticipated.

Today, I am pondering the role of AI in our education system. I’ve scanned the literature to gather some insights related to this concept and wish to share some ideas on AI and teacher roles. One might pose a thought-provoking question: Can AI replace the role of a teacher, given its ability to provide answers to numerous queries within seconds? AI applications offer innovative ways to enhance teaching and learning experiences, providing personalized, adaptive, and data-driven approaches to education. One key insight is the potential of AI to assist teachers in various aspects of their roles, including instructional design, assessment, student support, and administrative tasks in their work lives. AI applications can answer students’ questions, provide feedback on assignments, and offer personalized learning recommendations, thereby extending learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom setting.

The abstract, drawn from the Journal on Education, sparked my interest regarding potential transformations in our academic landscape, particularly concerning the learning experiences of students and the instructional approaches of teachers. Published in August 2023, the paper titled “Can ChatGPT Replace the Role of the Teacher in the Classroom: A Fundamental Analysis” seeks answers to this intriguing question. The research team: Ausat, Massang, Efendi, Nofirman, and Riady (2023) writes:

The background of this study relates to an exploration of the role of technology in the classroom learning process, especially in terms of shifting the role of the teacher as the main instructor.  The rapid and ever-changing development of technology has had a huge impact on education systems around the world, such as ChatGPT. This study will conduct an in-depth analysis of ChatGPT’s ability to replace the role of teachers in the classroom learning process.  This research is qualitative in nature.  The methodology used to collect data includes attentive listening and careful documentation of relevant information, which is then subjected to analytical procedures such as data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing.  The study arrived at the conclusion that in the context of using ChatGPT in learning, it should be noted that technology can only be a tool and cannot replace the role of the teacher entirely.  Therefore, it is necessary to integrate technology in learning in an appropriate and effective way and develop competence for teachers in managing learning with technology.

Citation: Ausat, A. M. A., Massang, B., Efendi, M., Nofirman, N., & Riady, Y. (2023). Can Chat GPT replace the role of the teacher in the classroom: A fundamental analysis. Journal on Education, 5(4), 16100-16106.

Further reading of the article allowed me critically to think on AI applications’ replacement of a teacher role. The author’s view on the integration of ChatGPT for example, acknowledges its significance as a tool but underlines the irreplaceable role of teachers in the teaching and learning process. While technology like ChatGPT can offer quick solutions and facilitate learning, it cannot wholly substitute the timely guidance and mentorship provided by teachers. The recommendation to integrate technology effectively and develop teachers’ competence in managing learning with technology is sound, as it recognizes the need for teachers to adapt and acquire new skills in this digital transformation age. Continuous training and competency development for teachers are essential to ensure they stay abreast of technological advancements, which can permit them effectively utilise AI applications in the teaching and learning process. Moreover, considering factors like infrastructure and human resources is crucial to ensure the seamless integration and management of technology in learning environments. Overall, while technology can enhance learning experiences, the pivotal role of teachers in guiding, facilitating, and nurturing student learning remains dominant and unquestionable.

The concluding reflection on this article leads to both excitement and curiosity about the potential changes that AI applications, such as ChatGPT, can bring to the lives of students and teachers. While the article raises thought-provoking questions, it also acknowledges the uncertainties surrounding the use of AI in education. One such concern is whether AI applications could hinder student learning or impede teachers’ capacity for effective teaching. For instance, while ChatGPT assists teachers in planning and designing learning activities, there is a question about its impact on teachers’ ability to generate new knowledge and foster creativity in their work. Similarly, there is a concern about whether ChatGPT could affect students’ writing and learning abilities, as well as their curiosity, given its ability to provide instant answers to queries. Despite these uncertainties, the reflection emphasizes that AI applications like ChatGPT are becoming increasingly integrated into academic settings and are likely here to stay. As a result, it is essential for educators to carefully consider the implications and affordances of AI in education while striving to leverage its potential benefits for enhancing teaching and learning experiences.

About the Author

Dr. Aminath Shafiya Adam is an Assistant Professor and the Dean of the Centre for Research and Publication at the Islamic University of Maldives. She is an experienced researcher with a strong desire to advance her career through a variety of interdisciplinary research projects. Dr. Shafiya is a staunch advocate for using digital technologies to drive innovation and enhance collaboration with professionals and external organizations.

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