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Generation AI is here: Children are already using AI technology to learn at home but just 6% say they are being taught about it in schools | FE News

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  • Just 6% of children say they are being taught about AI in schools
  • Children in the UK have already fallen behind the rest of Europe in using AI, with Austria leading the continent 
  • Parents want their children prepared for the future with eight out of ten (81%) wanting technology development (AI/AR/VR) taught in schools

The findings of a new study of children in the UK and their parents published today reveal that one in seven children (14%) are already using AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to learn at home. The Future of Education Report 2023 by leading online tutoring provider, GoStudent suggests that the education system is not arming children with essential skills needed to help them navigate the world they live in.

The AI space has dominated the news agenda recently, with the emergence of ChatGPT, which has kicked off a race in the big tech sector to harness the technology. AI is expected to become an ever-increasing presence in our lives with the potential to replace huge swathes of jobs. 

Despite predictions of the significant role AI will play in the future, and six out of ten 14-16 year olds (58%) saying it’s important for schools to use more adaptive learning in the next five years, just 6% of children say they are currently learning about it in school. Parents are also not much help to youngsters, with just a quarter (25%) of mums and dads saying they have a good understanding of how to operate and use AI. 

Worryingly, the report found that children in the UK have already fallen behind the rest of Europe in using the technology with just a third (32%) of them using AI to learn in school or at home. Children in Austria are leading the continent with 43% already using new technology to learn, followed by Italy (41%) and Spain (40%). 

As a company that helps students learn with tailor-made tutoring in virtual classrooms, GoStudent seeks to better understand how young people see education today. The GoStudent Future of Education Report 2023 listened to more than 6,000 children and their parents/guardians across Europe, including Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom (a total sample of more than 12,000). The aim is to uncover the experiences and aspirations of today’s Gen Z and Gen Alpha students. 

The report found that children value the support technology as a whole can bring to their learning, with four out of five (81%) children in the UK saying technology makes it easier to learn and more than three-quarters (77%) feeling technology helps them to develop their creativity. 

Parents were found to agree with this sentiment and were keen to see that their children get the support they need from teachers. In total, more than eight out of ten parents (87%) agree that teachers should be skilled in using digital technology within the classroom. 

Felix Ohswald, CEO and co-founder at GoStudent says: “There is both fear and excitement when it comes to AI and the futures of our young people. New technology brings new potential but many of the jobs young people are aiming for may evolve due to technology, by the time they leave school. 

“At GoStudent, our aim is to prepare children for the world and the future by unlocking the full potential of every student, but the report shows that traditional classes may be leaving young people ill-equipped for lives and careers in the 21st century. Education must evolve if we are to give this generation the skills they need to thrive.”

Amid a cost of living crisis, one area parents also want to see taught in schools is personal finance. Nine out of ten (91%) parents want personal finance taught in schools with just 36% of children believing that school is teaching them the skills they need to manage their finances. 

Other areas parents would like to see taught in schools are the environment (84%), mindfulness (82%), current affairs (81%) and coding and programming (76%) 

When asked what else students want through their education, one 16 year old, UK based student says: “A subject that prepares you for the future would be good. For instance, how you make your tax declarations, things like that.”

Whilst the report can’t predict exactly how technology will influence careers of the future, it does give some indication as to what makes a job meaningful for youngsters, with 73% of children saying it was important to make a difference in the world.

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