From the President: Technology will never replace the human element
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 128 No 2, 31 March 2023, page no. 7
A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can generate unique and individual responses to questions is among us. ChatGPT – a free website to which users can submit questions, with the program spitting back coherent responses, from meal planning ideas to eulogies, essay responses, lesson planning ideas, and everything in between.
This website has provoked much conversation in our professional community recently, as well as wider debate within the Queensland Government and the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA).
The QTU is a main stakeholder in the newly established QCAA Artificial Intelligence Working Group, on which the union comes together with stakeholders from the department, state government, independent unions, and principal associations to discuss the impact that artificial intelligence programs like Chat GPT could potentially have, not only on academic integrity but the teaching profession as a whole.
The QTU recognises that innovation and change have the potential to increase the quality of program delivery and that new technologies and future work can increase the types of programs provided. However, the Union has also long believed that the quality and equity of students’ educational experience should not depend upon the socio-economic status of their parents, where their school is located, or the wealth of the local school community. The growth of flexible and hybrid modes of delivery was accelerated through recent experience of lockdowns, during which educators revolutionised their pedagogies to ensure continuity of learning. However, this also highlighted the inequities of the digital divide between schools.
Delivering a high quality, high equity curriculum that realises the potential of digital futures requires increased and sustained investment from the state and federal governments. ICT provision to students – or lack thereof – should not create an additional educational divide between the rich and the poor.
The QTU understands that technology offers exciting possibilities for teachers to facilitate connections between students and learning. Technology can also afford teachers the opportunity to work more efficiently through online curriculum materials and student reporting. However, the QTU opposes the use of technology that does not contribute to the core business of teaching and learning, but instead contributes to work intensification.
At the recent QTU Union Reps Conference, the more than 450 delegates in attendance heard from Dr Anna Hogan a research fellow in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership at QUT, and Jo Butterworth, Executive Director of Curriculum Services for the QCAA. The purpose of this panel was to discuss how ChatGPT and other emerging technologies could help shape teaching and learning for us as teachers and for our students. The QTU remains heavily invested in understanding how technology will shape the future of our profession.
Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used in our everyday lives. However, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that no amount of technology will ever be able to replace the human element that is required in our schools to forge solid relationships with our students.
AI does present exciting challenges that we will continue to monitor to ensure that the professional and industrial rights of our members are safeguarded in this digital age.