Published on October 27, 2023, 10:57 am
Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, is making a significant stride in education by incorporating the study of the role and ethics of AI into the A-level curriculum. This groundbreaking move enables A-level students across the UK to critically analyze the impact of Generative AI and develop essential skills for the future.
Starting in November, Pearson Edexcel’s Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) will introduce a new learning pathway called ‘EPQ: AI.’ Through this pathway, students can explore the benefits and limitations of Generative AI in various real-life contexts and areas of interest.
The ‘EPQ: AI’ pathway encourages students to delve into thought-provoking questions related to Generative AI. For instance, they can explore whether AI could ever replace a sports coach and achieve better results, or if Generative AI has the potential to provide advice, diagnosis, and reassurance like a medical professional. They can also consider if AI-generated scripts are capable of portraying empathy when dealing with loss and death in film.
This educational pathway, which is equivalent to half an A-level in size, allows students to earn up to 28 UCAS points. It comes at a time when AI continues to reshape workplaces and behaviors. In fact, recent survey data shows that a quarter of UK adults have already used Generative AI, often within a professional context.
Sharon Hague, Managing Director at Pearson, emphasizes the importance of preparing students for an AI-driven society. She recognizes that Generative AI already impacts students’ lives and believes there is a need to help them navigate its benefits and challenges responsibly. According to a recent Pearson School Report, 9 out of 10 students express a desire to feel prepared for their future in a digital world.
Pearson’s commitment to fostering AI literacy in education aligns with the ‘AI in Education initiative,’ an independent body that includes representatives from examination boards and experts. This collaborative effort ensures that AI benefits students, teachers, and society as a whole.
Students aged 16-18 who choose the EPQ: AI pathway will have access to materials that support their critical evaluation of Generative AI tools and outputs. They can choose to create an essay, field study, performance, or artifact for their coursework.
One student in the Southeast named Sennen expressed excitement about the opportunity to explore Generative AI. He highlighted that AI already plays a significant role in young people’s lives, particularly through chatbots providing life advice. Having the chance to understand AI’s risks, use it responsibly, and apply this knowledge to academic projects and future careers is promising.
Pete Dring, Head of Computing at Fulford School in York, also emphasizes the importance of students understanding the limitations of AI tools and using them responsibly. He points out that AI tools like ChatGPT are already making a substantial impact on education.
To support the EPQ: AI pathway, Pearson is providing teachers with materials to aid their instruction. The 2023 Pearson School Report indicates that half of secondary school teachers expect increased usage of AI in schools over the next decade. The role of AI in education remains an ongoing topic of debate, and the government is hosting its first AI Hackathon to explore effective integration of AI in education.
The future holds tremendous potential for using AI in education. Teachers and school leaders are seeking innovative ways to leverage AI tools like ChatGPT for educational purposes. The AI Hackathon presents an opportunity for educators to collaborate and shape the future of AI in classrooms.
Pearson’s introduction of the ‘EPQ:AI’ pathway into the A-level curriculum marks a significant step towards promoting AI literacy among students. As AI continues to shape our society, it is crucial that the next generation is well-prepared to navigate both ethical considerations and practical dimensions surrounding these technologies. This initiative not only empowers students to engage with Generative AI critically, but it also signals a broader commitment to integrating AI responsibly into education. By doing so, students gain crucial skills for the AI-driven world of tomorrow.