Educational technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, bringing exciting new possibilities into the classroom. Chatbots, virtual reality, and AI-powered tutors promise to revolutionize learning. But, in our eagerness to embrace the latest innovations, are we approaching them with a critical eye? As educators, we must carefully consider not only what we could do with new technologies, but also whether we should use them at all.
Recent conversational AI like ChatGPT provides one salient example. This technology appears to be capable of doing anything, including answering student questions, providing feedback, and even creating entire lessons. However, as Benedict Evans cautions in “Unbundling AI,” its versatility does not automatically make it an effective learning tool. The fact that ChatGPT produces coherent, grammatically correct text hides the limitations of its reasoning. We cannot rely on its outputs unless it is subjected to rigorous testing and oversight. Rather than viewing conversational AI as a magical cure-all, we must evaluate its specific applications in education and supplement it with human checks.
More broadly, the logic of “could vs. should” applies to every new piece of edtech. Virtual reality could provide immersive experiences, but should we devote limited budgets to a technology that may distract more than teach? AI tutors could offer 24/7 support, but should we entrust them to handle sensitive student interactions? Rather than being swept up in the hype cycle, we must carefully weigh each innovation’s benefits and drawbacks within the context of the larger educational context.
This balanced, critical approach requires humility. Experience in one domain does not automatically translate into expertise in the use of new technologies in another. Educators must therefore continually educate ourselves on emerging technology’s possibilities and pitfalls, avoiding the blind spots of “legacy thinking.” We must also engage multiple stakeholder perspectives, from students to administrators to tech developers themselves. With open and informed discourse, we can harness edtech’s power while safeguarding education’s uniquely human elements.
Our classrooms face no shortage of challenges, and new technologies promise solutions. But progress requires marrying openness to innovation with prudent skepticism. With care, creativity, and conversation, we can approach the future critically yet optimistically, discerning not just how new edtech could aid learning but whether and when it should.