How AI Is Creating a New Digital Divide in Schools

AI creating new digital divide in schools

Technology is constantly evolving and progressing, including artificial intelligence (AI). When ChatGPT — an AI chatbot utilizing natural language processing — was released, many people quickly implemented it into their daily lives. 

However, many worry this rapid incorporation is the beginning of the next digital divide, especially in education. Here’s how AI is creating issues in schools.

What Is a Digital Divide?

The digital divide is the gap between individuals who can access technology and training and those who can’t. This concept refers to tech accessibility and having the necessary knowledge or training to utilize it effectively.  

In 2021, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) stated that 2.9 billion people, or 37% of the world’s population, have never been online. It estimates that 96% of these individuals live in developing countries. While more individuals are starting to come online, the gap still exists. 

What Role Can AI Play in Education?

Artificial intelligence can play a significant role in education. AI’s impact on the learning sector grows as it advances and becomes more intelligent. This technology can help educators teach students and act as an assistant. 

AI chatbots can help teachers create lesson plans based on students’ prior knowledge. They can also provide feedback educators can use to adjust their teaching strategies. In addition, some AI technology, such as Sens from myViewBoard, utilizes sensors to provide real-time data.

Sens can help with classroom engagement. It can scan the environment and students’ facial expressions to provide educators with information they can use to adjust their lesson plans. The AI tool can detect if learners are happy, disinterested or confused. 

Sens allows educators to know exactly what is going on in the classroom. The data it generates helps teachers adjust and improve the learning experience for students.

Another AI tool that shows exceptional potential to aid with teaching is Khanmigo, which can help create lesson plans and perform many other essential tasks. It was developed by Khanacademy, a nonprofit organization aiming to make education free and accessible to all. 

Khanmigo is primarily a tutoring tool that helps students in the classroom. Instead of kids asking the teacher a question, they can ask the AI. It can provide them with feedback they can use to understand the subject better.

Khanmigo can function as a writing coach who provides suggestions to improve their work and collaboration skills. It’s also great for teaching learners how to code. 

Khanmigo frees up time for the educator to help students one-on-one or to explain a topic more intensely. Many of these technologies are improving and provide many benefits in education.

How Can AI Create the Next Digital Divide?

Currently, the world is facing a global learning crisis. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), two-thirds of 10-year-olds cannot understand or read simple text. This was a problem before the pandemic, which escalated the situation.

In addition, there is also an educator shortage. UNESCO states that 69 million teachers are required worldwide to achieve universal basic education by 2030. The good news is that artificial intelligence can help with this matter. 

However, many are concerned about the digital divide AI is creating. The problem is that although this technology can provide many benefits and help students receive the required education, not everyone can access it.  

Additionally, they might not have the necessary knowledge to utilize AI to its fullest potential. Some are worried that students may use these tools in less productive ways, such as having AI complete their assignments. 

These genuine concerns highlight why training in artificial intelligence is so necessary. Students who understand how to use this technology appropriately and what benefits it could provide are likely to utilize it more effectively. 

Joining Forces to Close the Gap on the Digital Divide

Fortunately, many organizations are working tirelessly to close the digital divide. They are implementing global initiatives to get people online so students can obtain the required education. 

One such initiative comes from UNESCO, ITU and other private sectors joining forces. This combined effort created Giga. The mission of this global initiative is to connect every school in the world to the internet before the end of 2030. 

The way Giga goes about getting institutions online is by creating a map with the school’s level of connectivity on it. The idea is to show where investments are most needed to help institutions provide students with the education they deserve. 

This global initiative has made exceptional progress. Currently, Giga has mapped the location of more than 2.1 million schools. With the number of educational institutions’ internet connectivity increasing, more schools and educators are in a position to utilize AI technology for teaching students.

How Educators Are Using AI to Prevent the Next Digital Divide

Educators can’t do much about providing students with access to this technology at home. However, many support organizations that are constantly working toward this goal. That said, teachers still play a vital role in closing the gap. 

They can provide the necessary training for students to utilize AI to its fullest potential. With more institutions coming online, educators realize the crucial part they play and work tirelessly to aid their students.

Many schools want to become an equitable learning environment and do their best to make it happen. This can be done in many ways. In addition to improving access to technology, officials can improve air and water quality, which is vital considering many buildings are over 50 years old and can harbor lead or mold. 

One important thing to remember is that AI can only generate good responses if high-quality prompts are entered. Students and teachers must learn how to write effective prompts, which is why some universities have prioritized teaching educators. They can then demonstrate to their classrooms the most efficient AI methods. 

Another approach to close the gap is to let learners work with ChatGPT in class. Teachers provide the students with in-class assignments and encourage them to use the AI chatbot to aid them in completing their work. 

Other instructors prefer to provide their classes with a list of prompts they can use to get high-quality responses. Some educators do a quick warmup challenge. For example, they can have students write 10 prompts into the AI tool within a certain time frame. This helps them understand how the technology works and how to use it properly.

Some schools even take a different approach where learners work with AI tutors. These tools, such as Khanmigo, are slowly becoming more widely implemented in institutions. Many educators realize the importance of artificial intelligence and encourage students to teach their friends the skills they have learned.

Working Toward Narrowing the New Digital Divide Gap

While there are still digital divides in society, many organizations and educators are devoting their time, resources and expertise to improve things. More educational institutions are coming online, letting students learn how to utilize AI effectively. While there is still a long way to go, slow progress is being made to ensure the gap does not grow.

Also Read Is the Release of ChatGPT AI Going to Affect the Education Industry?

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