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AI in education: A double-edged sword

8 Jun 2024 AI in education: A double-edged sword

Muscat – The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and chatbots has revolutionised various sectors by simplifying complex tasks, enhancing decision-making processes, and transforming customer service. However, in the realm of education, this technological disruption has been met with mixed reactions regarding its impact on student creativity and academic integrity.

Educators and experts are voicing concerns over the increasing reliance on AI, which they argue could undermine the development of essential academic skills and critical thinking. 

Tariq Hilal Barwani, an IT expert, pointed out the dual nature of AI, acknowledging its benefits while cautioning against its potential to stifle creativity. “The over reliance on AI tools certainly hinders students’ creativity. A balanced approach where originality is a priority, is key.”

Ameena Mohamed Ali, senior faculty at Oman Aircraft Control College, is observing widespread use of AI among students with unease, linking it to potential academic dishonesty and a lack of professional conduct in student work. “As an educator, I believe that it leads to unprofessionalism in student work. I have employed various strategies to identify and eliminate the use of AI like podcasts, debates and presentation assignments. This gives students a chance to express opinions and enhance their skills in a unique way.”

Saleh Salim al Araimi, Senior Lecturer of Computer Science at National University of Science and Technology, also expressed concern about AI’s impact on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. He uses AI detection tools to monitor the extent of usage in student assignments. “Overuse of AI in the education system disrupts the emergence of important abilities like writing, research and independent analysis. Engaging in open conversation and explaining the rules of proper utilisation to the learner will help them to stay academically honest.”

Echoing these views, Dr Ramakrishna Kumar, Deputy Head of Electrical and Communication Engineering at National University of Science and Technology, said AI is a potential hindrance to creativity. “While it would not be ideal to fully eradicate the use of these tools, it is necessary to use them sensibly to expand on existing original ideas. It should be used as an assistance rather than serve as a replacement.”

From the student perspective, Gautam Singh of Modern College of Business and Sciences admits to using AI sparingly. “I keep my usage limited to getting ideas and information. Strict plagiarism checking of assignments by the college makes it difficult for students to use chatbots to write papers; it negatively impacts marks. In my opinion, use of AI may degrade originality but enhance creativity.”

Another student from the same college, Roxy Ann Roy, informed that excessive reliance on AI diminishes her inclination to engage deeply with topics. “AI only suggests solutions without teaching us the underlying concepts and providing good reasoning for these.”

The complex landscape reveals a growing need for a thoughtful integration of AI in educational frameworks, ensuring that technology enhances rather than detracts from the learning experience.

(Contributed by Sneha Lijoys and Gopika Babu)

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