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How is Artificial Intelligence disrupting Canadian education?

Updated: Mar 16

From K-12 students accessing ChatGPT to write their homework to teachers using unregulated apps to plan lessons and mark tests, few areas of Canadian society have been as affected by AI technology as our schools, colleges, and universities

Last updated: September 7, 2023.

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AI and Canadian Education

For Ask AI email subscribers and LinkedIn followers the stats and stories featured in this post will come as little surprise, but for others, seeing the information gathered in one place may come as a mild shock.

Over the past 12 months, artificial intelligence technology has made significant (and potentially irreversible) changes to how education is delivered in Canada. Perhaps of greater importance is the fact that as of September 2023, not a single Canadian province or school board has issued a coherent response plan to address this escalating phenomenon.

Studies on Artificial Intelligence and Canadian education

Multiple studies on the use of artificial intelligence in Canada's eduction system are starting to emerge, but will they lead to action at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels?

Featured studies:

KPMG Canada (August 2023):

  • 52% of Canadian students18+ use Generative AI to help with schoolwork

  • 60% feel that it constitutes cheating

  • 70% admit they always or sometimes claim AI-generated content as their own

  • 38% said their school has implemented or plans to implement disciplinary action

  • 72% want courses on how to use AI tools more effectively

  • Visit website

Angus Reid/Studiosity (August 2023):

  • 40% of Canadian students witnessed cheating with AI tools in past year

  • 26% are more likely to consider cheating because of AI Tools

  • Visit website

CIFAR (August 2023):

Breakdown of AI engagement across Canadian generations:

  • <18 years of age: 11%

  • 18 to 24: 14%

  • 25 to 34: 18%

  • 35 to 44: 16%

  • 45 to 54: 14%

  • 55 to 64: 16%

  • 65+: 12%

  • View full report

Generative AI in Canada's K-12 schools

Without clear guidelines on the use of AI in schools, Canadian students, parents, and teachers find themselves in an ethical dilemma: use it and potentially cheat, or avoid it and risk falling behind.

Featured stories: - Students in a Grade 12 English class at Three Oaks Senior High in Summerside, PEI have started doing more assignments during class time to prevent the use of AI programs. Full story

- Valerie Tih, a Toronto-based parent, is preparing for the 2023 school year with a crash course in the artificial intelligence tools that she expects her sons may encounter this school year. Full story

- In early 2023, the public school board in Hamilton, Ontario blocked ChatGPT on all Board devices and within Wi-Fi networks in order to restrict use for students and staff. Full story

- Kasi Humber, French teacher in Truro, Nova Scotia says she uses ChatGPT to organize report cards and create reading materials. Full story

- Two UNB computer science students tackled misconceptions about artificial intelligence with an 'AI Beginner Course' for high school students this summer. Full story

- Jamie Mitchell, a high school math teacher in Burlington, Ontario has started discussing ChatGPT in his classroom to educate students about what it can and can't do. Full story

Artificial Intelligence disruption in Canadian higher-education

Canadian universities are developing policies on the use of AI and conducting studies into their use, but so far there are no outright bans. Will unnecessary delays pose a risk to qualifications and future job prospects for students?

Featured stories:

- Canadian universities crafting ChatGPT policies as French school bans AI program. Full story

- Quebec's CEGEP teachers say they lack the tools they need to help detect plagiarism in assignments. They also want to be more comfortable with the developing AI field. Full story

- A study group at Cape Breton University is looking at how to deal with students using AI software to write research papers, as well as how professors can use it as a learning tool. Full story

- The University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina say they are allowing students and faculty to use generative AI as long as they do so in an ethical manner. Full story

- From science fiction to classroom reality: How UBC instructors are using AI as a teaching tool. Full story

- University of Manitoba Students' Union is working with the university to make sure students know AI apps like ChatGPT should only be used with their instructors' approval. Full story

- Christian Blouin, Dalhousie's strategy lead for AI, is developing policies and guidelines for AI in the classroom, research, and administration. Full story

Provincial and municipal responses to AI in Canada's schools

School boards in Canada will begin the 2023 school year without formal policies on the use of AI tools in the classroom. In many ways this is entirely understandable, but at the current rate of adoption, how long do provinces have before they are forced to take a position?

Featured initiatives: - British Columbia is researching the impacts of AI tools in the classroom. Full story

- Alberta School Boards are grappling with AI use in classroom, but formal policies still elusive. Full story

Federal governement responses to AI in Canada's schools

In Canada, educational policy falls primarily within provincial and municipal jurisdictions, but broader AI governance and data privacy issues overlap with the Federal government. Can Canadians afford to let the regulation of AI in schools fall between the cracks?

Featured initiatives:

- ISED has opened public consultations on a “voluntary code of practice” for Generative AI companies ahead of the planned Artificial Intelligence & Data Act. Visit website

- University of Ottawa law professor Teresa Scassa claims the government’s consultation on a code of conduct for Generative AI systems is too rushed and not public or transparent enough. Full story

- Privacy Commissioners in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec have joined the Federal government in investigating ChatGPT. Full story

Industry responses to AI in Canadian education

While Canada possesses a world-class AI sector, the unfortunate reality is that global tech giants like Google and Microsoft still dominate educational tools and systems, making Canadian schools over-reliant on edtech innovation that's taking place beyond our borders.

Featured stories: - Canada's D2L learning paltform has formed a partnership with Copyleaks to better detect plagiarism and AI-generated content. Full story

Did we miss something?

If you are a Canadian educator, administrator, policy-maker, student, or parent we hope that this post inspires deeper thought on artificial intelligence in Canadian education and helps to generate fresh ideas for informed action. Please let us know in the comments below and we'll update the post as required.

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