We must be proactive in guiding the influence of artificial intelligence on education – Education News

We must be proactive in guiding the influence of artificial intelligence on education – 24 Global News | Education News

Photo: Flickr/Rainer Stropek

The topic of AI has already grown trite, but don’t let that fool you. It’s not a fad. It feels more akin to the “atmospheric river” storms hitting California — a phenomenon we didn’t hear or know about a few years ago that is now changing how we look at rain and mudslides and fires and insurance. The storms also bring life-giving water desperately needed in the West.

Artificial Intelligence is an atmospheric river impacting everything we do — including how teachers teach, how students learn — and creating opportunities to rethink and redesign the 200-year-old institution called public education. While some may view AI as a threat, I see it as breathing new life into education.

With education at a critical juncture, the recent K-12 AI Summit in Anaheim provided education, policy, philanthropy, and industry leaders (from 31 states and over 100 districts) an opportunity to explore ways of integrating these new technologies into K-12 experiences for both students and teachers. Spearheaded by key partners such as the Anaheim Union High School District, Digital Promise, AI EDU, and the University of California, Irvine, this summit landed on one resounding message: The powerful role of AI as an assistant and thought partner, not a replacement for teachers.

AI technologies offer opportunities to personalize learning experiences, provide immediate feedback and identify areas where students need support. They complement teachers’ expertise, fostering a human-centered approach to education while enhancing learning outcomes. Other themes that emerged include:

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Address equity and access disparities: As AI becomes increasingly integrated into classrooms, we must ensure that all students have equitable access to these resources. Participants stressed the importance of bridging the expensive AI digital divide, providing training for educators (but not in traditional top-down ways that edtech has delivered in the past), inclusive design practices in AI development, and addressing infrastructure gaps to promote equitable access to technology.

Incorporate ethical and responsible AI use in education: Concerns about data privacy, algorithmic bias and the ethical implications of automated decision-making have grown. Participants emphasized the need for collaborative efforts to establish frameworks and guidelines for ethical AI use that foster transparency, accountability and equity as AI becomes a tool for enhanced curriculum and instruction and the reinvention of schooling where the walls of learning between school and community come down.

Equip students with skills for an AI-driven economy: AI can help teachers assist students with technical proficiencies and mastering substantive knowledge, but also in critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration. Participants emphasized how AI can accelerate interdisciplinary teaching and hands-on learning to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Sharing knowledge and collaborating: Partnerships between schools, universities, industry, and community organizations are essential for developing AI curriculum, providing professional development and piloting initiatives to connect school experiences with career opportunities. 

Sharing best practices and research findings fosters a community dedicated to advancing AI education. It is estimated that over 30% of current jobs require some type of AI skill set. This number will likely increase sharply over the next few years. School leaders who put their heads in the sand ignoring AI are committing a serious disservice to their students when it comes to competitiveness in the job market. 

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I believe that this “movement” in K-12 spaces could energize the vibrant community school initiatives happening across California where folks are rethinking schools and teachers are developing experiences for students to problem solve local and national issues. The AI future holds immense potential to empower teachers, students, parents and community members around what is the purpose of school. By leveraging the community school movement, which is a relationship-centered, inclusive process that uplifts the voices, needs and assets of historically marginalized students and groups, advanced AI tools can help teachers develop more personalized instruction, promote equity, foster ethical use, and prepare students to thrive through civic engagement and discover real world solutions to real world problems. AI can also help us assemble evidence of student learning and teacher leadership as well as insights from community stakeholders in ways heretofore impossible. 

The journey towards integrating AI into K-12 education is just beginning, with summit partners committed to continuing this crucial work. Therefore, let’s seize this opportunity to rethink and re-imagine what schools can be. As Martin Luther King Jr. once emphasized, “Our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”

•••

Michael Matsuda is superintendent of the Anaheim Union High School District.

The opinions expressed in this commentary represent those of the author. EdSource welcomes commentaries representing diverse points of view. If you would like to submit a commentary, please review our guidelines and contact us.

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