Artificial intelligence at present is seeping into almost all possible fields, including education. But how is AI seen by teachers, who are currently discussing what attitude to take towards the “helpers” ChatGPT and Bing Chat? Their attitudes have been mapped by an extensive study by experts from Palacký University and Microsoft Czech Republic & Slovakia.
The study, in which 2175 teachers took part, maps the views of teachers on AI in schools and its impact on educating Czech schoolchildren. It offers a look behind the scenes into the current situation at Czech schools.
“Opinions on the use of artificial intelligence among teachers and school administrators differ immensely, which is consequently projected into quite different approaches to instruction and everyday work with students. Schools also differ in the rules they establish for using artificial intelligence. It is obvious that discussions on which ways AI will influence Czech schooling in the future and which new demands it will put upon pupils and teachers will certainly be a hot topic in the coming months. We believe that this research will contribute to a positive and unified transformation in Czech schooling,” said Kamil Kopecký of the UP Faculty of Education, on behalf of the research team.
Academics were mainly interested in three questions, attempting to find answers as to what opinions teachers have on AI and its expansion, on how Czech teachers are prepared to implement AI into schools, and which AI tools they use and how.
Is humanity ready for AI?
Artificial intelligence is a theme which evokes a positive response by teachers on one hand, and fears on the other.
“This disparity is evident from the results of our study. While 35% of teachers fear AI, a comparable 30% have the opposite opinion, not seeing it as a threat. In total, 45.5% of respondents consider AI as a positive tool for future development. On the other hand, almost one-half (47%) of respondents believe that the use of AI will lead to laziness in thinking,” said Kopecký. The results also found that Czech teachers think that the spread of AI is too premature. Six out of every ten respondents agree with the statement that humanity is not ready for the mass roll-out of AI.
AI belongs in schools!
The question as to whether AI should be part of the school environment was answered decisively. A total of 56% think that AI belongs in schools, while only 19% disagreed. “It shows that despite the above-mentioned fears, teachers have an open mind on this trend. They want to go with the times. Teachers do see negative aspects, in that students can use AI dishonestly in their homework. Almost one-half of respondents (47%) agree with the statement that AI can be used by students to cheat,” added Kopecký.
Violeta Luca, General Manager of Microsoft Czech Republic & Slovakia, also weighed in on AI in schools, saying that we ought not to perceive artificial intelligence as a tool which will do our jobs for us. “This is a valuable technology which we can use in schools to our benefit. The new technology could, for example, give every pupil their own personal ‘teaching assistant’, tailored to their needs. We are all different, some of us understand things better and are able to learn quickly; others not. And it is this individual approach to each pupil where artificial intelligence can help,” she said.
Old faces, new skills
The vast majority of respondents (82%) are convinced that artificial intelligence will require teachers to acquire new knowledge and skills in terms of teaching. The results of the research also showed that teachers think that the application of AI will transform their job (83%). On the other hand, 78% do not believe that teachers will be replaced by artificial intelligence.
Nearly a third of Czech teachers are already using artificial intelligence in various aspects of their profession. Most often it is used to generate texts for teaching (25%), in translations (20%), and in preparing tests (16.5%). In terms of specific tools, the one teachers use most often is ChatGPT (36%).
“Artificial intelligence is not a theme of the past few months, but years. With the advent of generative language models, Czech schools and teachers have become conscious of AI and so conducting the first extensive Czech research on AI in schools became a priority for us. Our goal is to show how artificial intelligence can help children develop critical thinking and creative expression and how it can help teachers to develop new ways to capture children’s attention. We are teaching teachers how to use artificial intelligence in order to rid them of administrative and repetitive tasks, and also how they can tell whether pupils are using content generated by artificial intelligence in a responsible manner,” concluded Karel Klatovský, an education and Internet safety expert at Microsoft Czech Republic & Slovakia.
2175 teachers took part in the research, from throughout the whole of the Czech Republic. The average age of the respondents was 46.5. Eighty-five percent of the sample was made up of teachers from elementary and secondary schools. Data gathering took place from 25 April to 30 June. The study results can be downloaded here.