ChatGPT: Keegan launches call for evidence on AI in education

Ministers also announced a new taskforce to look at what digital skills are needed for the future

Ministers also announced a new taskforce to look at what digital skills are needed for the future

Education secretary Gillian Keegan is launching a call for evidence on using artificial intelligence (AI) like ChatGPT in education “to get the best” out of the new technology.

Keegan will tell the London Tech Week conference she wants to “kick start a conversation” with experts on using generative AI in a “safe and secure way”.

She believes teachers’ day-to-day work could be “transformed” by the emerging tech and help with workload, but that the standard is not yet there.

It comes a mid growing debate about the role AI should play in education – with fears it could be used for cheating by students.

The Department for Education has also today confirmed a new “digital and computing skills education taskforce”, made up of tech experts and led by senior civil servants (see full list below).

Members include Dame Wendy Hall, who developed the microcosm hypermedia system in the mid-1980s, a forerunner to the World Wide Web.

The group will establish what computing and digital skills are needed now and for the future and work with industry experts to “encourage” more young people to consider a career in cyber security, AI or computing, DfE said.

‘We need to understand the opportunities and risks’

Keegan is inviting schools, colleges and universities to respond to the call for evidence, which will close on August 23.

Ministers want to get a handle on how generative AI is being and could be used in education providers as well as any risks, ethical considerations and training needed for staff.

Keegan will tell tech experts the education workforce needs to be “best equipped with the skills and knowledge” so they can “ride the wave” of AI.

“For that potential to be realised, we – the government, our schools, colleges and universities – need to be able to understand those opportunities, as well as the real risks new technology brings.

“That’s why we want to kick start a conversation with experts from across education and technology to hear their views and learn from their experiences. This will help us make the right decisions to get the best out of generative AI in a safe and secure way.”

DfE previously advised schools and colleges they “may wish to review” their homework policies and strengthen cyber security as AI could increase the credibility of attacks.

Ministers committed in March to “convene” experts to work with the education sector to “share and identify best practice and opportunities to improve education and reduce workload using generative AI”.

Exam boards have also published their own guidance on “protecting the integrity of qualifications”. It stated schools and colleges should make students do some coursework in class “under direct supervision” to make sure they are not cheating.

The digital and computing skills education taskforce:

  • Julia Kinniburgh (chair) – Director General Skills, Department for Education
  • Tom Rodden (deputy chair) – Chief Scientific Advisor, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology
  • Dame Muffy Calder – Head of College of Science and Engineering University of Glasgow
  • Rashik Parmar MBE – Group CEO of The British Computing Society The Chartered Institute for IT
  • Dame Wendy Hall – Professor of Computer Science at Southampton University
  • Matthew Scullion – founder and CEO of Matillion
  • Lawrence Munro – Global Head of Innovation at NCC Group
  • Araceli Venegas-Gomez – CEO and Founder of QURECA

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2 Comments

  1. Walley

    In essence AI is just a tool, but a very powerful one and imperfect.

    Let’s just hope the bean counters can be kept at bay or social skills development could be sacrificed on the altar of productivity.

    (ie less human to human interaction may reduce costs, but will have other consequences…)

  2. Looking at the taskforce list this looks a little like asking the heads of major fossil fuel companies to come up with a solution to climate change!

    More opportunity seeking echo chamber than objective critical analysis.