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AI and education: The threatening gap between the labour market and higher education

While the initial idea of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rooted in American Science Fiction books from the early 1940s, the idea of intelligent machines has developed drastically. The increased funding for developing artificial neural networks, Machine Learning (ML), and Deep Learning (DL) strategies during the 1960s and 1970s created the basis for today's Artificial Intelligence. The first decades of the twenty-first century brought access to vast amounts of data (big data), which was the steppingstone for real-life applications of this technology to various sectors of life. We are currently witnessing the public's reaction and concerns to the application of AI.  


AI is undeniably a transformative technology, as its influence asserts across multiple societal domains. It stands for revolutionizing entire industries, elevating operational efficiency, and broadening the horizons of human potential. This dynamic technology is both an augmenter and a disruptor of the workforce, perpetually propelling its evolution. Scientists predict an even faster development in the future that will have far-reaching implications worldwide.  

So how can we as students prepare ourselves for an AI driven future? To find the answer, this Value Creator team dove into the topic of AI’s implications on education. While exploring, reading literature and engaging with people from the field, we quickly noticed that AI is increasingly being integrated into education. While the conversation often centers around generative AI models such as ChatGPT, the integration goes deeper and can be observed across various sectors and faculties.  


Our research has shown that many people in academia are not aware of their AI integration levels. Thus, we have developed a scanning tool. This is a tool a medium for educators to spark the conversation on their own AI integration levels and reflect to what extent they would like to integrate AI.  

 

The design and content of the scanning tool is based on the knowledge and experience we gathered throughout the Value Creator journey. By attending the UNIC conference in Rotterdam and engaging with educators from France, the US, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, we learned that there are many differences between courses, curricula, faculties and institutions on adapting to technological changes such as AI. Especially now, where every institution needs to adapt to the changes, we need to create an understanding and awareness on the technology. However, all of them are deeply affected by the changes of the technology on their practices. These differences also create dichotomies between higher education and the labor market, as there is a difference in speed of adaptation to AI. To summarize, higher education is deeply affected by AI but there is a lack of awareness on their AI integration levels across various academic aspects. This scanning tool's objective is to generate more awareness amongst educators on where they stand in relation to AI. We want to initiate a conversation and reflection that helps educators gain more awareness on their relation to AI. It is important to mention that the tool does not indicate a preferred AI integration level, but rather offers a situational analysis of one’s standpoint and provides an outlook on the preferred AI implantation levels of the educators themselves. 


By providing increased awareness on the topic, we aim to shape curricula more consciously and enhance safe and responsible use of AI in higher education and maintaining the quality of education in higher education. 


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