28 November 2023 Last update: 29 November 2023
2023 is being marked by the explosion of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), such as ChatGPT, which has spurred both excitement about its potential, as well as fear about its drawbacks, in particular in educational systems across the world.
For UNESCO, without ethical guardrails, AI risks reproducing real world biases and discrimination, fuelling divisions and threatening fundamental human rights and freedoms. UNESCO supports the development of media and information literacy for all to enable people’s ability to think critically and click wisely. It particularly strives through its Media and Information Literacy (MIL) programme to train and equip those working in education with the skills necessary to support pupils in the digital climate.
The Antenna in Sarajevo of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe organised some activities for teachers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, within the Global MIL Week 2023 and as part of the EU-funded project “Building Trust in Media in South-East Europe: Support to Journalism as a Public Good”.
On 26 October, a webinar on “The use of AI in classrooms and its impact on MIL - Based on UNESCO approach” represented a direct response to UNESCO's emphasis on the importance of MIL, especially in the age of AI. As AI-driven tools become commonplace in classrooms, the challenges and opportunities they present for MIL, based on UNESCO's guidelines, need to be explored.
"In this new era where algorithms have the potential to become our co-teachers, we must remain the authors of our narratives, using tools like ChatGPT not as crutches but as canvases - aiding in sketching the vast panorama of human knowledge." -- Borislav Vukojević, UNESCO consultant, MIL for Western Balkans
UNESCO's human-centred AI initiative is a compass that guides us toward an enlightened approach, ensuring technology serves as a bridge, not a barrier, to greater understanding and inclusivity in learning. “In a world rife with misinformation, the combination of AI and MIL can either become our strongest weapon or our Achilles' heel. The webinar delved deep into these complexities, drawing parallels to the UNESCO approach”, said Borislav Vukojević, who delivered a lecture on AI and MIL during the webinar, which gathered more than 40 participants.
Among the speakers at the webinar was Dejan Klincov, a teacher in the high school “Tehnološka škola” of Banja Luka. He shared hope and concerns about AI tools and their impact on MIL. “My experience indicates that artificial intelligence tools are highly valuable to educators, as they can significantly reduce the time needed for preparing teaching materials, but they should be used with caution since they can sometimes generate incorrect data”.
Klincov also highlighted that “students who are more computer-literate have been misusing AI tools for writing their final papers and for obtaining answers to questions with its help, highlighting the need for clear regulations that will assist teachers in properly evaluating work and sanctioning irregularities”. He believes that with increasingly rapid access to information via AI, education will likely shift more towards understanding the material and critical thinking among students, rather than memorising, in turn leading to faster implementation of MIL in the educational process.
Dalibor Savić, Vice Dean for Scholarly Research and Publishing Affairs at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Banja Luka, emphasised “the urgent need for institutionalising the use of artificial intelligence at all levels of education in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. Benefits of using AI in the education sector are: personalised learning, bridging the digital divide (including from intergenerational and international perspectives) and the potential for efficient implementation of participatory learning models. In this context, he adds “the use of AI tools also represents the most effective and cost-effective way to modernise the education system in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
On 30 October, a workshop on “Human-centred Approach in using AI in Education” was co-organised with the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Banja Luka. The workshop, aimed at teachers, mentors, educators and professors, put emphasis on the learners and the broader community. During the event, 30 participants had the opportunity to understand the means to put humans at the centre of AI design and implementation in education. In addition, they delved deep into the ethics of AI in classrooms and engaged with AI tools, while focusing on human aspects.
"Creating policies and programmes addressed to both teachers and students for ethical use of AI would be a proper response to this new digital challenge in our education system." -- Anđela Pepić, Assistant Professor, University of Banja Luka