Embracing AI in Education

By Andreas Oranje

The last thing teachers and administrators need is more logins to manage, more dashboards to inspect, and more platforms to adopt. Faced with an avalanche of applications powered by some form of artificial intelligence (AI), it is important to equip educators and administrators with a deep understanding of the underlying technology in order to help them make effective adoption decisions.

What’s more, there are numerous articles and stories alluding to a perceived AI revolution, with technology taking over all productive and creative functions from us. At the same time, AI is routinely linked to violations of privacy and parents’ concerns for their children’s well-being as a result of AI-based personalized learning.

But not every use of AI in education is problematic and no teacher has been replaced by the technology. In fact – it is becoming more difficult than ever for school districts to find enough qualified teachers to fill their classrooms each year. AI might become the only viable approach to solve teacher shortages, though not by replacing them, but by serving as a trusted ally in order to help them deliver more tailored instruction where and when the student needs it.

In a broad context, AI should be seen as a help rather than a hindrance to the advancement of the world around us. It can be used to provide opportunity and we shouldn’t allow fear of the misuse of AI and related educational technologies to prevent us from seizing opportunity.

In the end, the most important takeaway when it comes to AI is this: We create it, we choose to use it, and we choose how to use it. We will continue to look to AI to help us solve some of education’s toughest challenges and its capabilities should be used to our advantage. But we will do so – and need to do so – in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, based on thorough understanding of the technology and consequences.

The concept of AI for social good and its immersion into education is a real movement about opportunity and leveling the playing field. For example, helping students become better writers by automatically reviewing their writing in a platform that they are already using for school work and providing meaningful feedback on basic features of writing is incredibly helpful. It means that students can practice more writing without crushing teachers under additional revision work. Similarly, adoption of an application that takes turns reading paragraphs of an engaging book with a narrator, adapting automatically to the reader’s skill level, can provide the opportunity to practice reading, especially for those who do not have the home or school support to read often.

AI might become the only viable approach to solve teacher shortages, though not by replacing them, but by serving as a trusted ally in order to help them deliver more tailored instruction where and when the student needs it.

~ Andreas Oranje

This persistent presence and growth of AI, in all its forms, in our classrooms can no longer be deemed a fad. It is here to stay. But with appropriate time, thoughtful experimentation, and deep understanding of the underlying mechanics, it will bring significant value. It will mostly enhance the learning environment and further underscore the tremendous value and role our teachers play by helping them focus on educating. Empowering them with more control, information and sound data about their students will give teachers even more opportunities to make thoughtful decisions to guide their instruction and approach to learning.

As a consequence, it is imperative that administrators and educators are well informed about how to differentiate these comprehensive tools, critically evaluating those not backed by reliable research or that lack the key principles of AI.

Equipping the educational community with the knowledge to hold every technology offering to standards that promote value and inclusion will be critical in ensuring positive AI is brought into the classroom. Organizations including Digital Promise®, Common Sense Education®, and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®), where I will be discussing this in more detail at the end of June, make it a core part of their mission to expand knowledge of technology for educators. By participating in conferences like ISTE and building research-backed and educator-co-designed AI applications, we can do our part to help teachers take advantage of AI in education.