Practical and Ethical Challenges of Large Language Models in Education: A Systematic Literature Review

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Educational technology innovations that have been developed based on large language models (LLMs) have shown the potential to automate the laborious process of generating and analysing textual content. While various innovations have been developed to automate a range of educational tasks (e.g., question generation, feedback provision, and essay grading), there are concerns regarding the practicality and ethicality of these innovations. Such concerns may hinder future research and the adoption of LLMs-based innovations in authentic educational contexts. To address this, we conducted a systematic literature review of 118 peer-reviewed papers published since 2017 to pinpoint the current state of research on using LLMs to automate and support educational tasks. The practical and ethical challenges of LLMs-based innovations were also identified by assessing their technological readiness, model performance, replicability, system transparency, privacy, equality, and beneficence. The findings were summarised into three recommendations for future studies, including updating existing innovations with state-of-the-art models (e.g., GPT-3), embracing the initiative of open-sourcing models/systems, and adopting a human-centred approach throughout the developmental process. These recommendations could support future research to develop practical and ethical innovations for supporting diverse educational tasks and benefiting students, teachers, and institutions.

Ryan Watkins