© Council of Europe

Interview with Prof. Dr. Irene-Angelica Chounta

Learning and Teaching with AI

  • 21.02.2024

Will AI replace classrooms in the future? No, says Prof. Dr. Irene-Angelica Chounta in our interview. However, digital, intelligent learning methods will become an essential part of education. The UDE expert advocates for better regulation of AI in education within the Council of Europe. Additionally, she explores with her students what AI-enhanced platforms, like ChatGPT, can and cannot do.

Can an intelligent digital learning platform replace teachers and books?

An intelligent platform can certainly enhance the learning process by tailoring content, explanations, and feedback to users. Through individual customization, it can provide assistance at the right moment, keeping learners motivated. What digital platforms cannot and should not replace is the social interaction among students and teachers in the classroom or during seminars.

You are conducting research on digital learning platforms, what is your approach?

My research group specializes in Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) and Learning Analytics. We analyse how people use digital learning environments and how their learning process evolves using computer-assisted methods. With these insights, we can design adaptive learning platforms. In other words, we ensure that learners receive the right feedback at the right time and that the level of difficulty is adapted to the individual needs of the learners.

You offer a seminar called "Me and My ChatGPT" for computer science and engineering students at the UDE. What do you teach your students there?

It's important to me that my students are prepared to live with AI-enhanced technologies, such as Large Language Models. This semester, we are using ChatGPT as a peer (or else, study buddy) for learning programming languages. The students ask the bot questions and learn what matters. We are concluding, that it is not crucial to know exactly how to write a Python programme, word by word, command by command. The most important thing is to understand the logic behind it. How to design and engineer the algorithm so that it does what you want it to do.

Where are the limits at the moment?

Citations, for example, are problematic. ChatGPT often invents them, because that's exactly what text-generating AIs do. Students need to understand the difference between a search engine or a library and a language model.

So far, the use of AI in schools and universities has hardly been regulated. What needs to change?

Whether we like it or not, AI is cutting-edge technology that is increasingly intervening in our everyday lives. We therefore need to learn how to use it and learn from it. This is what I am working towards in the Council of Europe's Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence in Education. Last year, we published a report with policy recommendations, outlining ethical guidelines necessary for the responsible use of AI in education.

Unfortunately, the report shows that only four out of 46 Council of Europe member states had enacted policies or strategies on the use or implementation of AI to learn about learning at the time the survey was carried out. Our long-term goal is for all European states to adopt concrete resolutions and, potentially, regulations and legislation specifically for the use of AI in education. This would ensure that crucial ethical aspects, such as data protection, inclusive access, or digital competence and profiling, are clarified in a legally binding manner.

Pictured: Prof. Dr. Irene-Angelica Chounta with the Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence and Education in Strasbourg (sixt person as seen from the right side).

More information:

Prof. Dr. Irene-Angelica Counta, Faculty of Computer Science, Computational Methods in Modeling and Analysis of Learning Processes, Tel. ++49 203 379 1450, irene-angelica.chounta@uni-due.de

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