Abstract

In today’s digital era students (and educators) are navigating a landscape that is vastly different from that of previous generations. The emergence, and the consequent rapid growth as well as general availability of generative AI (artificial intelligence), transformed the way that students learn. Students seem generally at ease to use generative tools as a study aid. However, it brings about an urgent question—when students use generative AI platforms to create solutions to formative assessments such as homework assignments, do they learn anything new, i.e., do they acquire the required skills and apply learnt knowledge? Do these students learn to think creatively, as per learning outcomes, and generate innovative ideas, or do they simply learn how to use a generative AI tool that promises that they ‘won’t get caught’ for using AI? The plethora of freely available AI tools offer students unprecedented access to information and learning resources. Moreover, AI promises to tailor education to individual needs and accelerate learning. However, as students increasingly rely on AI for tasks that range from in-depth research to everyday problem-solving, a fine line between genuine learning and technological dependency becomes increasingly blurry. This phenomenon brings about some serious concerns, such as: 1) When students delegate, e.g., tasks that aim to let them practice newly acquired skills and stimulate their intellectual curiosity, they forfeit valuable opportunities to grapple with complexity and uncertainty. 2) Students that regularly use AI for homework and other learning assignments miss out on unexpected discoveries and deep insights that only arise from immersive, hands-on learning. 3) The continued use of AI has a detrimental homogenizing (side) effect—algorithms that curate content based on a (homogenic) built-in knowledge base, brings about students that confine themselves to become echo chambers, i.e., individuals that simply repeat existing ideas and beliefs and thus fostering very little (if any) originality as well as innovative thoughts and ideas. The burning questions facing the educators of Generation AI are about leveraging technology for academic success in addition to cultivating a holistic approach to learning that embraces both human ingenuity and technological innovation, i.e., how to balance the ever-available capabilities of AI with the intrinsic value of human curiosity, creativity, and intellect; and how to transcend the limitations of algorithms to harness the full potential of technology as a tool for empowerment and enrichment, instead of a crutch for complacency.

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