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The dangers & benefits of AI in eLearning: Balancing AI and Bespoke Content

October 17th, 2023 - Employers Consulting - Elizabeth Asbury

What is the future of AI in eLearning?

In the fast-evolving landscape of education, technology plays an increasingly pivotal role. One of the most intriguing advancements is the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and tools like ChatGPT into eLearning. This article delves into the benefits and uses of AI in eLearning, with a particular focus on AI's role in text templating. We'll also explore why, despite the technological marvels, bespoke content remains an invaluable component in the educational toolbox.

The benefits of AI in eLearning

Staring at a blank page can be an agonising experience for any writer. The blinking cursor seems to mock your creative aspirations, daring you to fill the void with meaningful content. This phenomenon, aptly named ‘Blank Page Syndrome’, is a well-known adversary for writers of all levels. It's a moment when inspiration seems elusive, and the prospect of crafting engaging content feels like an insurmountable task.

Enter AI & ChatGPT!

With its ability to generate coherent, contextually relevant content, AI serves as an invaluable springboard for writers. By offering a starting point, it alleviates the pressure of facing an empty canvas and jumpstarts the creative process. AI-generated content can act as a catalyst, sparking ideas and providing a foundation upon which writers can build.

Embracing AI as a creative springboard doesn't diminish the writer's role; rather, it empowers them to focus on refining and personalising the content. By freeing content creators from the paralysing grip of the blank page, AI liberates creativity and opens up a world of possibilities. It's a powerful ally, turning what was once a daunting challenge into an opportunity for inspired, impactful writing.

The benefits of AI for eLearning include:

  1. Speed and Efficiency: AI can generate content quickly, allowing for a high volume of output in a short period of time.

  2. Data-Driven Insights: AI can analyse data to understand what types of content perform well, helping to tailor content for specific target audiences.

  3. Generating Templates and Outlines: AI can create initial drafts, outlines, or templates, providing a solid foundation for human writers to build upon.

  4. Aiding Creativity: AI can provide creative prompts, suggestions, or alternative perspectives, sparking new ideas for human writers.

  5. Multimodal Content Creation: AI can generate various forms of content, including text, images, and even audio, enhancing its versatility.

Midjourney Community Showcase of AI Created Images.
Midjourney Community Showcase of AI Created Images

The dangers of AI in eLearning; our words of caution

It’s important to note that while AI has many strengths, a lack of bias is not one of them. Also, it may not always replicate the nuance, creativity, or contextual understanding that human writers bring to the table. While AI can be immensely useful for generating initial content, it does come with certain crucial limitations:

  1. AI models trained on predominantly Western-centric data may overlook or misrepresent diverse cultural perspectives. This can lead to a lack of inclusivity in educational content, potentially alienating learners from non-Western backgrounds.

  2. If the data used by AI in educational content creation predominantly represents one gender or socioeconomic group, it may reinforce existing disparities in opportunities and outcomes.

  3. AI systems can reinforce existing stereotypes or prejudices present in the data. If historical data contains biased information, the AI may perpetuate these biases, leading to skewed outcomes.

  4. The algorithms used in AI systems are designed by humans and can inadvertently introduce biases. For example, if a search engine algorithm favours certain types of content, it may inadvertently promote certain viewpoints over others.

  5. In an attempt to cater to a broad audience, AI-generated content may simplify or generalise information, potentially missing out on crucial details that are essential for a comprehensive understanding.

Ridding AI and machine learning of bias involves taking their many uses into consideration.
Ridding AI and machine learning of bias involves taking their many uses into consideration Image: British Medical Journal

While AI-generated content offers impressive capabilities, these challenges highlight the irreplaceable value of human creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence in content creation. Striking a balance between AI-assisted content generation and human expertise is key to producing high-quality, authentic, and engaging content. By leveraging the strengths of AI as a springboard for content creation and combining it with genuine human experience, knowledge and expertise, we can create a learning environment that maximises engagement and fosters true understanding.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Asbury (PhD, MSc, BSc Hons)

Elizabeth has been working in online learning for so long that the vacant stares and looks of pity from ‘traditional’ educators have become a distant memory. Thanks to the early adopters and revolutionary thinkers who understood that online learning was about equity and accessibility, no longer is mentioning eLearning akin to screaming into the void. Her Ph.D in Psychology, post-doc research, and years of working in tertiary and vocational education certainly helped prepare Elizabeth for the fight to bring the amazing opportunities online learning can offer to the widest possible audience.

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