Research Blog

Student Thoughts on Bergen Summer Research School 2024

June 21, 2024

What have the international PhD students learned about the use of AI in education during this year’s Bergen Summer Research School? Our Communication Officer went to find out!

A good mood during group research work on AI in Education. Bergen Summer Research School, June 7th, 2024. Front left: Professor Paul Prinsloo. Back left: Professor Barbara Wasson. Photo: Ingvild Abildgaard Jansen.

Every Summer since 2008, Bergen Summer Research School (BSRS) has welcomed up to 120 PhD students from all over the world to spend two weeks in Bergen. BSRS is a joint initiative by the five institutions of higher education and research in Bergen: The University of Bergen, NHH Norwegian School of Economics, the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, the Christian Michelsen Institute, and NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS.

Since 2021, Bergen Summer Research School has placed an emphasis on activities related to climate, energy and the environment, health, inequality and governance, and discourses on societal challenges. One of these societal challenges is the use of AI in various aspects of our daily lives, including in our education— a topic that was the focus of the SLATE-led PhD course AI in Education during this year’s research school.

Halfway through the two BSRS weeks of June 2024, SLATE’s Communication Officer, Ingvild Abildgaard Jansen, visited the AI in Education course to observe and talk to the international students and hear their thoughts so far.

Professor Paul Prinsloo lecturing on the use of AI in education. Photo: Ingvild Abildgaard Jansen.

Dark Humor and Poetry Describing a Serious Topic

Ethical considerations, data privacy, data literacy, and the responsible use of AI are essential aspects that must be carefully addressed to ensure that AI technologies used in education benefit students and educators. The PhD course AI in Education encourages the students to think critically about the technological, pedagogical, ethical, social, and legal implications of AI in educational contexts.

The PhD course was led by Professor Barbara Wasson, Director at SLATE, while the co-leaders were SLATE Senior Researcher Mohammad Khalil, Postdoctoral Researcher Anja Salzmann and Professor Paul Prinsloo, University of South Africa.

On June 7th, the day Ingvild Abildgaard Jansen (SLATE's Communication Officer) visited BSRS, Professor Prinsloo held a lecture entitled “Some reflections, footnotes and tentative notes-in-the-margins on the ethics of Artificial Intelligence in/and education”.  Before the lecture, Postdoc Anja Salzmann, who in recent years has been quite active in the ongoing AI debates in Norway, shared some of her insights.  

Anja Salzmann: Challenging the Use of AI

As a lecturer, Paul Prinsloo used a dry, dark sense of humor to convey this serious topic, as he likened the mining of our private data and the use of AI by big tech to colonialism. Our Communication Officer observed that this created a good mood in the classroom, with the students seeming engaged, laughing at jokes and asking questions both during and after the lecture. Professor Wasson and Postdoc Salzmann joined in with relevant and insightful comments, based on many years of experience.

Paul Prinsloo closed the lecture with a thought-provoking poem highlighting the humanity that is lost when we’re all reduced to data. Throughout the lecture, Prinsloo also took care to recommend literature to the students.

Postdoc Anja Salzmann sharing her insights on AI and data mining. Photo: Ingvild Abildgaard Jansen.

After the lecture, the PhD students gathered in group research sessions where they were asked to find examples of the impact of AI in Education on equality, privacy, social justice, the environment and accountability.

What Had the Students Learned?

As the annual research school is international and interdisciplinary, with PhD students from many different backgrounds and countries, this naturally affects their takeaway from the course.

When asked by our Communication Officer what they felt they had learned so far, one student mentioned that she had gained a new insight into the literature and resources that are available on AI in Education.

A student with a background in AI in Education, said her research and studies had so far focused mostly on the positive side of using AI in education, and so she felt that she could learn a lot from a course that focused more on the difficult or darker sides of AI. She felt she had gained a new perspective, and that she would be able to think more critically about AI in Education from now on.

A student with an AI- or technology-related background felt like he unfortunately learned less than he could have, as he was already familiar with the ethical debates within the field, while another student mentioned that he really felt he had learned something about machine learning, as well as the difference between machine learning and deep learning.

One student with a background in Film Studies felt that she had gained a lot of new knowledge about a field she didn’t know beforehand, and was planning on bringing this knowledge back with her and sharing it with her colleagues.

SLATE appreciates this feedback, and we look forward to the next edition of Bergen Summer Research School!