Close this search box.

Is AI the future of education? UP profs start debate

by Jericho Zafra

WILL artificial intelligence be your next school best friend? 

Amid issues concerning the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in the classroom, professors from the University of the Philippines argued that this technology must be integrated into the setting and could be used by students and faculty members to enhance critical thinking. 

Dr. Cynthia Bautista, UP Diliman Vice President for Academic Affairs, said there is a way to use AI to help improve students’ skills. 

“Artificial intelligence in the classroom is necessary. We have to know what cognitive tasks our students will perform where they will be allowed to be assisted by AI,” Bautista said in a forum.

Setting boundaries 

But Bautista also said that despite the innovation that AI could bring into the education system, there must be clear guidelines on how these should be used. 

Schools should define what acts related to AI use would be considered  academic dishonesty and what is not, she said.

AI in the classroom 

One example of how AI can be used in the classroom is by tapping tools like ChatGPT, a chatbot system that generates answers to user inquiries using artificial intelligence techniques,  for debate activities. She said teachers may use information given by the chatbot for the debates, which may then help students to develop critical thinking. 

She likewise said there are learning outcomes that can be enhanced by these AI tools used as guides, such as information sharing and critical dialogue. This is why faculty members should also understand how the AI tools work, she said. 

“Kailangan ang teachers naiintindihan ang language models, naiintindihan [nila] how it operates dahil pwede rin siyang gamitin for critical thinking,” she said.

Language models are statistical tools that examine large amounts of text data to establish a framework for word predictions.

Speeding up the workflow 

Another advantage of AI tools, according to Bautista, is that they provide digital assistance that cuts down the time it takes to perform a specific research task. 

Tess Payongayong, UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, noted that Filipinos have been surrounded by AI “for a long time” and that it helped students and teachers with their research. 

It’s just that the more advanced ChatGPT opened up the discussion on the ethical use of the platform inside the classroom setup, Payongayong said. 

“We know that it’s not easy embracing technologies when they first emerged because we realize there might be drawbacks,” she said. 

Disadvantage of AI tools

There are numerous concerns about the use of AI in classroom settings.

One of the challenges posed by this new technology is that it could be difficult to detect whether written works or academic output produced by AI tools are being passed off as students’ works. 

Bautista said current AI detectors that universities are using have limited capacity to verify the entirety of the content.

This is also why Dr. Rex Jalao, UP Artificial Intelligence Program Coordinator, advises caution in penalizing students for supposedly passing off chatbot outputs as their own work. 

Jalao said AI detectors would need to keep up, too, with the changing landscape of these systems. He said that it’s very hard to detect whether outputs are created by AI because there are frequent changes in these tools to improve the user experience. 

Another concern about AI tools is the lack of a guide defining what constitutes academic dishonesty. This would make it hard to determine if the student is liable for the offense.

Payongayong said students and teachers must also be made aware of the consequences of using AI tools, as these could still provide incorrect data. 

Students must understand that these tools may produce faulty analysis and wrong information, and they should know how to double check this in order not to be misled, she said. 

Despite the concerns about AI tools, the UP professors believe these will become part of the education system.

No escaping AI? 

The next move is to see to it that students and faculty members know how to use these properly. 

“AI tools are here to stay, and in time, they will only get smarter,” said Dr. Ton Clemente of the UP Department of Psychology.

And since the future is in AI, it is about time to integrate these tools in the learning process to promote two-way interaction between AI and the student, said Dr. Bomen Guillermo, professor of UP Diliman Center for International Studies.

“In this way hindi ngayon magkakaroon ‘yung estudyante ng paraan na I just write my essay through AI. Ang kailangan gawin ng estudyante ay idiscuss ang interaction niya with AI,” he said.

One of the tools making a buzz nowadays is ChatGPT. 

It is easy to use as anybody, including a student, can attempt to request any information from it and it will respond immediately to the question with a curated answer from the web.

Currently, ChatGPT operates using a dataset that covers information up to 2021. This means ChatGPT has no information to provide from 2022 to the present.

Chat Sonic is another chatbot now being used for educational purposes. Unlike ChatGPT, which can only provide information until 2021, Chatsonic has the latest information from the web as it pulls information from Google’s Knowledge Graph. 

YouChat is also one of the rising AI tools today as it acts like a search engine that provides a list of web pages related to the information that is being sought.



We have the stories you’ll want to read.

RepublicAsia Newsletter