Discussion on the Implications of AI in K-12 Education Held

Leaders and educators in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) converged at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, hosted by North Carolina State University’s College of Education, on Nov. 15 to discuss the applications and possibilities of AI in K-12 classrooms. The continuous expansion of AI has revolutionized various industries and its potential in the education sector is equally astounding.

Amanda Moore, district innovation coach for Center Grove Community School, expressed her enthusiasm about the possibilities that AI offers in classrooms. She emphasized that by introducing students and teachers to AI innovations, we can transform the landscape of education.

AI refers to the technology that can learn and perform complex tasks like data analysis, problem-solving, and machine learning. Generative AI involves content creation across multiple domains such as language, graphics, and audio.

The adoption of AI in schools has increased rapidly, most notably since the launch of ChatGPT, a popular AI language chatbot, in late 2022. Despite initial challenges, presenters at the convening agreed that AI is here to stay.

Pati Ruiz, a senior researcher in learning sciences and emerging technologies at Digital Promise, highlighted the benefits that AI can bring to educators. It can help reduce their workload and cognitive effort, while also facilitating the creation of interactive and responsive learning material tailored to individual student needs.

According to Ruiz, students can also benefit from AI through features such as assisted learning frameworks and personalized learning. However, she emphasized the importance of teachers maintaining control over the automation used by their students, as they are the ones who understand their students’ needs best.

Ruiz likened AI to an electric bicycle, where the rider maintains control but receives technical support from the machine. She believes that integrating AI into education and investing in AI literacy can lessen the burden on educators, students, and their families.

AI’s Impact in the Classroom

AI has far-reaching implications beyond ChatGPT in the classroom. It opens up numerous possibilities for students to learn, grow, and explore future career opportunities. Amanda Moore played a pivotal role in creating Primary AI, an AI and robotics-based game curriculum for upper elementary students. The game revolves around solving problems related to a dwindling penguin population in New Zealand. Through the game, students not only learn about science, but also gain hands-on experience in AI by collecting and analyzing data.

Moore highlighted the power of building AI literacy through hands-on experience and exposure to real-world applications in various disciplines. These advancements in AI, such as AI-assisted cancer identification or endangered species identification, should excite teachers and inspire students to pursue their futures.

Ethics as an Integral Part of AI Literacy

Pati Ruiz emphasized the importance of human control over AI-generated content, as AI content is synthetic. She stressed the need to value the human input involved in developing AI tools and content.

Ethics and accessibility are essential considerations in developing AI literacy. Access to AI technology is crucial to avoid leaving anyone behind. It is equally important to ensure that AI is accessible for students with disabilities.

Another crucial aspect of AI literacy is recognizing and addressing biases. Machines may appear neutral, but the data they rely on is human-generated and may contain biases. Understanding who developed the technology and why it was developed is necessary for a comprehensive understanding of AI.

Ruiz also highlighted the ethical impacts of AI on the environment, such as the energy consumption required to run AI systems. Educators and students should consider the human labor involved in maintaining data sets as well.

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