Media release: New Research on the Opportunities and Risks of Generative Artificial Intelligence for Education

Dr Michael Johnston
17 June, 2024


Wellington (Monday, 17 June 2024) - A new report from The New Zealand Initiative calls for a science-based approach to using artificial intelligence (AI) in classrooms. This will help schools get the most out of AI while reducing risks to teaching and learning.
The report, Welcome to the Machine: Opportunities and Risks of Generative Artificial Intelligence for Education, written by Senior Fellow Dr Michael Johnston, will help educators and policymakers navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of AI in education.
It finds that AI will not change what students need to learn. "It is still important for schools to teach key subjects like science, history and maths," says Dr Johnston. "Students still need to learn fundamental skills and acquire knowledge. Critical thinking and creativity depend on knowledge."
Drawing on scientific research on human learning, the report gives guidance on how AI can help students learn better, and how to avoid potential pitfalls. Educators must understand appropriate ways to use AI with their students. "If students use AI for tasks before they have learned the basics, it can slow down their learning later on," Dr Johnston said.
The report sees both risks and opportunities in using AI for education. AI can help teachers give better feedback and track student progress. But it should not replace the important relationships between students and expert teachers. "Learning involves human connection, where teachers skilfully impart knowledge. AI should be used to support teaching, not replace it," says Dr Johnston.
The New Zealand Initiative believes this report will help people make good decisions about AI in schools, to get the best outcomes for students.
The full report is attached and will be on the New Zealand Initiative website at 12 pm.


To arrange an interview with Dr Michael Johnston, please contact:

Jamuel Enriquez, Marketing and Communications Manager
P: 021 022 34451
About The New Zealand Initiative

The New Zealand Initiative is an evidence-based think tank and research institute contributing to public policy discussion.

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