EduTECH 2023: What did we learn about the AI-fueled future of education?

September 13, 2023

@ArtemisDiana via Shurtterstock

Last month, Copyright Agency attended the EduTECH Conference 2023 which transformed the Melbourne Convention Centre into a vibrant festival celebrating the intersection of education and technology. The event, aptly tagged as “one giant festival for all of education,” brought together educators, technology enthusiasts, and industry leaders to explore the profound impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies on the realm of learning.

AI emerged as the defining theme of the conference, capturing the attention of all participants. Renowned plenary speakers, including Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, and Lee Hickin, Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft ANZ, underscored the rapid evolution of technology within the education sector. Both speakers agreed that while AI holds immense promise, we need to learn how to use it responsibly and effectively.

Richard Culatta envisioned a future where specialised AI curates information and provides tailored responses. Addressing concerns about cheating, Culatta emphasised the need to rethink assessment methods rather than solely preventing it. He introduced the concept of a “digital use divide,” highlighting the distinction between passive and active tech engagement. Culatta stressed that educators should empower students with an understanding of AI’s mechanisms and guide them in leveraging it for brainstorming, collaborative work, and refining their human qualities.

Lee Hickin radiated enthusiasm for AI’s transformative potential. Encouraging others to share his enthusiasm, Hickin envisions AI as a personalised tutor, a reflective coach, a practical simulator, and an early intervention tool. He dismissed apprehensions by advocating an AI safety “stack approach”* to address risks associated with AI implementation.

A panel featuring experts from various departments of education and assessment authorities shed light on the regulatory landscape of AI in education. Disparities emerged among different states and territories, with varying degrees of acceptance and integration of AI tools. While some regions, like Victoria, embrace AI in education, others, such as New South Wales, are cautiously examining safety and usage implications.

Despite regulatory disparities, the consensus is clear: education must adapt to the accelerating pace of AI advancement. The curriculum needs to evolve to integrate AI concepts while reshaping assessment design for meaningful engagement. The journey towards AI integration in education may accentuate the “digital use divide,” an aspect of concern highlighted by Culatta.

Simultaneously, EdTech companies need to carefully enhance their products and services by including AI technology in a way that assists educators in meaningful ways. This could be achieved by saving educators time, assisting them with their day to day tasks or enabling them to find new ways to teach their students.

EduTECH Conference 2023 concluded with a resounding message: AI and technology are no longer optional in education; they are the driving forces of innovation and transformation. Educators, students, and policymakers must collaborate to harness the power of AI responsibly, ensuring that its potential is realised in ways that enhance the learning experience and prepare the future generation for a technology-driven world.

*A tech terms which means a linear data structure that follows a particular order in which the operations are performed, from

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