Are ed tech companies going to be disrupted by AI?
I am trying to remember what we talked about in Educational Technology before the release of ChatGPT. Anyway there is only one story in town at the moment.
Yesterday educational tech even managed to make the headlines of the Guardian Newspaper’s online edition. “AI race is disrupting education firms – and that is just the start”, screamed the headline.
The story was about an American ed tech company, Chegg, who said that there was a “significant spike” in students using the ChatGPT, and withdrew its profits guidance for the rest of the year, warning revenues had already been hit. It shares almost halved in value. The Guardian reported that “ripples were felt in London, where education giant Pearson’s stock closed down 15%.”
Its hard to find anyone weeping tears over the profit hit on Chegg, which basically provides exam practice materials, including answers to frequently asked exam questions.
The fall in Pearson’s share price is more interesting. Pearson are predominately a textbook publisher who have ventured into online learning and platform development. Now its possible that the share price is just reflecting a general fall in technology related stocks this year. But it seems more likely that this was a panicked reaction with little current agreement on just what the growing number of Large Language Models – like ChatGPT – mean for the future of many sections of the economy and of course for employment and skills.
My own playing with these models suggests that it is getting much easier to produce good quality learning materials (and ChatGPT is very good at writing learning objectives – something that some years ago I spent a long time teaching to trainee teachers). Perhaps its just wishful thinking on my part, but could the use of AI herald a boom in the development of Open Educational Resources, to the detriment of commercial learning material suppliers?