Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming higher education, with the potential to improve accessibility and learning experiences for all students. However, there are also concerns that AI could widen the gap between those with access to technology and those without access.
AI as a Tool for Equity
AI can be a powerful tool for equity in higher education. For instance, AI-powered tools can be used to provide personalized learning experiences using data analytics, a good example is Canvas LMS which collects data on student performance, which can be used to personalize learning experiences. For instance, professors can use this data to identify areas where students are struggling and provide them with additional support. AI-powered tools can also offer real-time language assistance to students who are learning English as a second language. For example, the Google Translate app can be used to translate lectures, assignments, and exams into multiple languages. This can help students to understand the material and complete their work without having to worry about language barriers. It also translates educational materials into multiple languages. For example, the Khan Academy website offers a variety of educational materials in over 40 languages. This allows students to access high-quality educational materials regardless of their native language. These tools can help level the playing field for students from different backgrounds and learning needs.
In addition, AI can be used to address learner accessibility challenges. For example, AI-powered tools can help students with dyslexia rewrite emails or other written communications. The tool suggests corrections for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. It also suggests ways to improve the clarity and professionalism of the email
Challenges to AI as a Tool for Equity
While AI has the potential to promote equity in higher education, it also poses some challenges. One challenge is algorithmic bias which leads to inaccurate information. AI systems are trained on large datasets, which can contain inherent biases and over-represent certain groups. This can lead to unfair outcomes and privilege specific user groups, not all information you get from Ai-powered tools is accurate to the latter; an example is ChatGpt.
Addressing the Digital Divide: Ensuring Equal Opportunities for All Students
In today’s rapidly advancing digital era, one of the pressing challenges we face is the digital divide. This is the disparities in access to technology and the internet, which can have far-reaching consequences, particularly in the realm of education. While AI-powered tools have the potential to greatly enhance learning experiences, they often rely on internet connectivity and access to computing devices. Unfortunately, many students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, find themselves lacking these essential resources.
Now, bringing this issue closer to home, suppose you’re a prospective student applying to Principia College. Naturally, you would have to meet certain thresholds set by the admissions office. Different universities have their specific requirements, and this is a common practice. However, for international students, there is an additional hurdle: they must take an English proficiency test. For instance, the minimum score required on a test like Duolingo by Principia College Admissions Office is 115. This requirement applies to all international students, irrespective of whether they come from a country with a history of British colonization or if they have spent a significant portion of their education learning English. In essence, a one-hour test with numerous factors at play becomes the determining factor for their safe passage to academic “Canaan.”
But what about those who lack access to AI-powered tools that provide real-time language assistance? Should their judgment be based on the same scale as an international student who has attended an upper school in the United States and had access to such resources? This is where the digital divide further worsens educational inequities, severely limiting students’ ability to engage with AI-enabled tools and fully benefit from their potential.
Recognizing and addressing this issue is crucial for fostering educational equity and ensuring equal opportunities for all students. The digital divide must not become a barrier that hinders academic progress and maybe Principia College should explore alternative assessment methods that take into account students’ diverse backgrounds and access to resources, ensuring fair evaluation for all applicants because this is just one instance, so the elephant in the room is, how do we measure intelligence going forward?
The SAT is a standardized test that is widely used in college admissions. However, it has been criticized for its imperfections as a measure of intelligence and its potential bias against students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In recent years, many universities, Principia College being one among many, have opted to no longer require the SAT as part of their application process
One of the main criticisms of the SAT is that it does not accurately assess all the skills necessary for college success. The SAT focuses on cognitive abilities, such as reading comprehension and problem-solving, which can be prepared for using AI-powered tools. However, it does not measure other important skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. Additionally, the SAT is biased against students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is because students from these backgrounds often have less access to quality education and test preparation resources, which is to say AI-powered tools that can provide personalized learning experiences and real-time language assistance, and also translates educational materials into multiple languages.
As a result of these criticisms, many universities are now adopting a more holistic approach to admissions. This means that they are considering a variety of factors, such as academic achievements, extracurricular activities, personal essays, and recommendation letters when making admissions decisions. This approach is more likely to identify students who have the potential to succeed in college, regardless of their background.
Thus the digital divide poses a significant challenge in the quest for educational equality. However, by recognizing its impact and taking proactive measures to address it, we can create a more inclusive educational system. We can work together to bridge this digital divide, ensuring that no student is left behind and that every individual can fully participate and be assessed fairly.
Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize higher education, but it is vital to address the challenges associated with AI and ensure equitable AI-enabled assessment practices. How do we measure intelligence among students? By leveraging AI tools for accessibility, acknowledging and combating algorithmic bias, addressing the digital divide, and fostering critical thinking, universities can embrace the potential of AI while upholding their ethical and legal responsibility to promote educational equity for all students.
AI has the potential to level the playing field for students from all backgrounds. However, it is crucial to be aware of the potential challenges and take steps to mitigate them. By working together, we can ensure that AI is used to promote equity and inclusion in higher education.