Less than half of Australian teachers believe benefits of integrating Gen AI into education outweigh potential risks

New generative AI tools are disrupting the education sector and posing both challenges and opportunities. Capgemini Research Institute’s report, ‘Future ready education: Empowering secondary school students with digital skills’, found students aged 16-18 are less confident about whether their digital skills make them workforce-ready than their teachers. This is especially true for foundational skills in the areas of digital communication and data literacy.

What were the findings of Capgemini’s research?

Education systems around the world are already making moves to either accommodate or exclude generative artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT from students’ day-to-day activities. Nearly half (48%) of secondary school teachers surveyed, for example, report that their schools have either blocked or restricted the tools’ use in one form or another.

Other “early adopters” have been less restrictive with 19% saying the tools have been allowed for specific use-cases, and 18% noting that they’re still evaluating it for usefulness in the classroom. Over half (56%) of secondary school teachers agreed that curriculums and assessments needed to be adapted to account for student use of AI-generated content, and a similar proportion (52%) believe AI tools will change the teaching profession for the better.

Balancing the risks with the benefits

While many can see the potential of generative artificial intelligence tools, 78% of secondary school teachers globally still share concerns about the negative impact of generative artificial intelligence tools on student learning outcomes, including the perception that the value of writing as a skill will be diminished (66%) and that the tool will limit student creativity (66%).

Despite these concerns, half of secondary school teachers globally say that the potential of generative AI as an educational tool outweighs the risks. Of the perceived benefits that artificial intelligence tools could bring, key use cases highlighted by teachers include using it to teach how to interact with and understand AI models (60%), to aid critical thinking exercises (56%), and as a tool to help suggest edits to students’ work (52%), among others.

The sentiment towards generative AI varies significantly across different geographies: teachers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Finland recognize the importance and potential of generative AI, much more than Singapore, Japan or France.

Equipping students with key skills for the future

Almost two thirds (64%) of secondary school teachers are convinced of the importance to develop students’ digital skills to make them job-ready and the 82% agree that compulsory education in digital skills would be beneficial. But there is a gap in confidence between adults and teenagers: 70% of teachers and 64% of parents believe students have the necessary skills to be successful in today’s workforce, while 55% of students aged 16-18 agree.

The research also finds that there is a significant gap in confidence between teachers in large cities (83%) and in rural areas (40%), and that urban 16-18 years old girls feel nearly twice more confident than in rural areas. Finally, teachers in rural areas are less likely to believe that digital literacy is a priority for their school than their peers in suburban and urban areas.

As per the research, while 72% of students aged 16–18 feel confident about their basic digital literacy, less than half (47%) feel the same way about digital communication and data literacy – attributes which are considered crucial for success in the modern workplace.

Capgemini’s research report also highlights that instilling confidence is key to empowering students to correctly identify fact from misinformation online. While the majority (80%) of students say they are confident in finding information online, fewer know which online sources to trust (66%) and even less are able to decipher fact versus opinion online (61%).

What are Capgemini’s thoughts on the findings?

Shobha Meera, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer at Capgemini
Shobha Meera, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer at Capgemini

“Continuing from our 2020 report on the state of the Digital Divide, this report spotlights the gaps in future-ready digital skills between rural and urban schools,” said Shobha Meera, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer, Capgemini and member of the Group Executive Committee.

“It is our conviction that as technologies like Generative AI increasingly shape our world and amplify the criticality of foundational digital skills, they also hold the key to bridging gaps through self-paced learning, hyper-personalization and other such capabilities,” Meera said.

“At Capgemini, we are committed to responsibly leveraging the power of new tools and technologies to continue our role in digital skills training: almost 2 million people have already benefited from our digital literacy programs since 2018, and we are proud to have 23% of the 26,000 graduates from our digital academies as our colleagues today,” Meera added.

“We hope the findings from this report serve and inspire the ecosystem of players tackling the same topic in our shared quest for a more sustainable and inclusive future,” Meera said.

For more information or to download the report, please visit the website.