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Wednesday, April 17
The Indiana Daily Student


GUEST COLUMN: The erosion of teacher autonomy in the age of AI-driven EdTech


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The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in educational technology (EdTech) has brought unprecedented convenience and efficiency to classrooms around the world. However, as we embrace these advancements, we must also recognize the significant challenges they pose to the autonomy and professional judgment of teachers. The increasing prevalence of AI-powered educational platforms, such as Chegg and Quizplus, comes at the expense of personalized instruction and the development of critical thinking skills. 

One of the primary concerns with AI-driven tools in education is the depersonalization of instruction. These tools often rely on pre-packaged digital content and standardized solutions, leaving little room for educators to customize their teaching methods.  

Every student is unique, with distinct learning styles, strengths and weaknesses. Teachers, with their wealth of experience and expertise, are best positioned to tailor their approaches to cater to these individual needs. However, AI-driven platforms like Quizplus and Chegg limit their ability to do so effectively, resulting in a one-size-fits-all approach that fails to engage and inspire students to reach their full potential. 

EdTech companies offer step-by-step solutions to textbook problems, intended as a study aid. However, some students exploit this feature, using it to simply copy the solutions without understanding the underlying concepts, leading to instances of plagiarism and cheating on assignments and exams.  

While convenient, the automated nature of these platforms can be exploited for academic dishonesty, as students may use external resources or collaborate with others during quizzes, compromising the accuracy of their learning outcomes. 

The implications of this depersonalization and the rise of academic dishonesty are far-reaching. By diminishing the role of teachers as facilitators of meaningful interactions, we risk stunting the growth of critical thinking and problem-solving skills among students. Education should not merely be about acquiring knowledge, but also about cultivating the ability to analyze, evaluate, and apply that knowledge in real-world scenarios. Through dynamic classroom discussions, collaborative projects, and hands-on activities, teachers play a pivotal role in fostering these essential skills.  

AI-driven platforms, with their standardized solutions and automated features, are ill-equipped to provide the same level of engagement and intellectual stimulation that human teachers can. While AI-driven EdTech platforms undoubtedly have their merits, we must not lose sight of the importance of preserving teacher autonomy and the holistic educational experience they provide.  

Rather than relying solely on pre-packaged content and standardized solutions, these tools should be designed to augment and complement the role of teachers, empowering them to adapt and customize their approaches while leveraging the benefits of technology.  

By striking a balance between human expertise and AI-driven tools, we can create an educational environment that fosters critical thinking, creativity and a deep engagement with the subject matter. 

In the face of these challenges, educators, policymakers, and EdTech companies must collaborate to shape the future of AI in education. Teachers should be involved in the development and implementation of AI-driven tools, ensuring that they align with their instructional goals and pedagogical approaches. Simultaneously, EdTech companies must prioritize ethical considerations, implementing robust measures to mitigate academic dishonesty and protect the integrity of the educational process. 

As we embrace the potential of AI in education, we must not lose sight of the irreplaceable role that teachers play in shaping the minds and lives of students. By empowering educators with the tools and autonomy they need to personalize instruction, encourage critical thinking and foster genuine human connections, we can harness the full potential of technology while preserving the essence of education itself. 

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