Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, is taking a significant step forward in education by introducing the study of the role and ethics of AI into the A-level curriculum. This groundbreaking move allows A-level students across the UK to critically analyze the impact of Generative AI and gain essential skills for the future.
EPQ: AI pathway
Starting in November, Pearson Edexcel’s Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) will offer a new learning pathway called ‘EPQ: AI.’ This pathway enables students to delve into the benefits and limitations of Generative AI across various real-life contexts and interest areas.
Exploring generative AI’s impact
The ‘EPQ:AI’ pathway encourages students to explore thought-provoking questions related to Generative AI, such as:
Could AI ever replace a sports coach and achieve better results?
Can Generative AI provide advice, diagnosis, and reassurance like a medical professional?
Are AI-generated scripts capable of portraying empathy when dealing with loss and death in film?
Half an A-level in size
This pathway, equivalent to half an A-level in size, allows students to earn up to 28 UCAS points. It comes as AI continues to reshape workplaces and behaviors, with a recent survey revealing that a quarter of UK adults have used Generative AI, many of them in a professional context.
Empowering future AI literacy
Sharon Hague, Managing Director at Pearson, emphasizes the importance of preparing students for an AI-driven society. She notes that Generative AI is already impacting students’ lives, and there is a need to help them explore its benefits and challenges responsibly. A recent Pearson School Report revealed that 9 out of 10 students wish to feel prepared for their future in a digital world.
AI in education
Pearson is not alone in its commitment to AI literacy in education. It forms part of the ‘AI in Education initiative, a not-for-profit, independent body comprising representatives from examination boards and experts. This initiative ensures that AI benefits students, teachers, and society.
EPQ:AI pathway details
Students aged 16-18 who choose the EPQ: AI pathway will have access to materials that support them in critiquing Generative AI tools and outputs. They can create an essay, field study, performance, or artifact for their coursework.
Sennen, a student in the Southeast, expressed excitement about the opportunity to explore Generative AI. He highlighted that AI is already integral to young people’s lives, particularly through chatbots offering life advice. The chance to understand AI’s risks, use it responsibly, and apply this knowledge to academic projects and future careers is promising.
Educators emphasize responsible use
Pete Dring, Head of Computing at Fulford School in York, underscored the significance of students understanding the limitations of AI tools and using them responsibly. He noted that AI tools like ChatGPT are already substantially impacting education.
Teacher support and the future of AI in education
To complement the EPQ: AI pathway, Pearson is providing support materials to teachers. The 2023 Pearson School Report found that one in two secondary teachers expects increased AI usage in schools over the next decade. The role of AI in education is the focus of ongoing debate, and the government is hosting its first AI Hackathon to explore effective AI use in education.
AI’s role in education
The future of AI in education holds great potential, with teachers and school leaders seeking innovative ways to leverage AI tools like ChatGPT for educational purposes. The AI Hackathon represents an opportunity for educators to collaborate and shape the future of AI in the classroom.
Pearson’s introduction of the ‘EPQ: AI’ pathway into the A-level curriculum is a significant step toward AI literacy among students. As AI continues to shape our society, the next generation must be well-prepared to navigate AI technologies’ ethical and practical dimensions. This initiative not only empowers students to engage with Generative AI critically but also signals a broader commitment to integrating AI responsibly into education, ensuring that students gain vital skills for the AI-driven world of tomorrow.