By Marie Pruitt

Since I started teaching undergraduate writing three years ago, I’ve continuously sought out ways to integrate technology into my classroom. There are so many different writing technologies available to students, and I felt that it would be a disservice to not introduce them to these tools.

However, the one tool I will not be using in my classroom is artificial intelligence – and for one simple reason: we don’t know enough about it.

Besides the fact that the use of AI in the classroom raises plenty of concerns regarding data privacy, environmental impact, equitable access, and algorithmic bias (all of which I believe outweigh any potential benefits of AI on their own) there are simply too many concerns that we don’t have enough research on.

What does the (lack of) research say?

In the three short years I’ve been in academia, I’ve read countless books, peer-reviewed articles, and in-depth studies on how to support my students best. Each time I integrated an element of my curriculum, I did extensive research on how it might affect my students to make sure I was creating the best possible learning environment. I know that I am not alone in this practice; most other teachers/scholars in academia put the same amount of intellectual labor into their classroom design – which is why I find this hasty, uncritical integration of AI so baffling and concerning.

Maybe teachers are scared that if they don’t adopt this technology, they’ll fall behind current trends and become obsolete. Or perhaps they see it as a way to get ahead of AI-related cheating – an “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach.

But one thing is certain: the only thing we know for sure about AI is that we haven’t done enough research on the effect it will have on our world.

Countless studies performed on the effects of AI end with something along the lines of “…but we need more research to fully understand the long-term effects.” If every article on the use of discussion boards in the classroom ended with this same caveat, do you think they’d be such a common practice?

My Final Thoughts

I’m not saying we should ban AI from education or that there aren’t some potential benefits, but when it comes to the education of the next generation, let’s approach any new technology with a critical eye before blindly jumping on the bandwagon. We can’t stop AI from coming, but we can take a step back and wait for the research to catch up before we force something on students with unpredictable and potentially dangerous effects.

As an instructor who loves using different writing and research technologies in the classroom, I urge students and instructors to think critically about what we know so far about AI and what we haven’t yet discovered.

Photo Courtesy // Sam Upshaw Jr., The Courier Journal