Students begin to embrace AI for learning
by Will Chambers on 21st September, 2023
UK students are beginning to welcome AI as a learning tool, yet many students, parents, tutors and teachers remain undecided about the impact of the technology on education.
That's according to our fourth annual state of online tutoring survey which this year featured a number of questions about AI in education.
Who took part in the survey?
Over 1,100 people took part in the survey: from tutors (40%), teachers (26%) and students (27%) to parents (5%) and tutoring organisations (2%). They represented 42 countries but 82% of respondents were based in the UK.
AI in education: views and use
We asked students, teachers, tutors and parents for their views on AI and whether they or their students were making use of any AI tools.
Asked if they thought AI systems such as ChatGPT were good or bad for education, 41% of students believed they were a positive, with a larger proportion (46%) still undecided. Just 13% thought the technology would have a detrimental impact. Parents shared similar views with 37% positive and 44% undecided.
And while most students (54%) said they were using AI tools for a range of purposes, including revision, homework and classroom work as well as for their own personal interest, the majority of parents surveyed (70%) said their child hadn’t used the technology.
More than 70% of tutors and teachers had heard of generative AI such as ChatGPT. Of those who were aware that their students used generative AI tools most said the tools were used for revision.
Teachers and tutors offered mixed views about the use of AI in education, ranging from positive to concerned. Their comments included:
“It can be used to verify or check ideas and answers to questions. It can also be used to come up with new methods of teaching and learning.”
“…generative AI detrimentally affects the development of key skills, including analysis, evaluation, articulation and formulating personal opinions and judgements.”
“…AI can teach content better than many teachers, freeing up teacher time for interactive examples and Socratic discussions that help students not just acquire, but truly and deeply 'learn' the topics being taught.”
Asked how likely it was that they would use Bramble’s AI-powered searchable lesson recordings for learning and revision, almost two-thirds (63%) of students said that they were likely or very likely to use the technology for these purposes. Many tutors see this feature as a key tool for online tutoring, with a third (33%) citing it as one of the main benefits of the live online tuition platform.
Trends in online tutoring
The trend of students finding online tutoring increasingly effective continues this year: 91% find online tutoring to be as effective or more effective than in-person. For tutors and teachers that percentage is 86%. 40% of parents reported finding online tutoring to be far more effective for their student.
The survey also revealed that the appetite for a full return to in-person tutoring continues to wane. In this year’s survey just 11% of tutors wanted to return to purely in-person tuition – down from 14% in 2022. Nationally, almost half (47%) said they would prefer a mix of in-person and online tutoring, with 42% wanting to remain exclusively online - a 3% increase from the 2022 survey.
Online tutoring continues to have an impact in schools
80% of teachers who used external tuition support said that the tuition had a positive impact on pupils, most commonly improving confidence and attainment. 18% of teachers who were using external tuition support said it was too soon to assess impact.
Students will only embrace AI further
This year's survey shows that students feel most positively about AI and are most willing to experiment with the technology and are in fact beginning to embrace AI powered elements of the Bramble platform to help them revise from their recorded learning sessions.
AI has the potential to have a truly profound impact on our education system. That impact could be incredibly positive if government, educationalists and Edtech companies developing AI powered technologies work together to ensure that the technology becomes a useful, accurate, informative and supportive tool that enhances learning.