Recommendations for Supporting Safe Teacher Exploration of AI and New Technologies – Digital Promise

Recommendations for Supporting Safe Teacher Exploration of AI and New Technologies

Teacher with two students on computers.

April 8, 2024 | By and

At the second session of our Age of AI webinar series, we asked educators, researchers, and school and district leaders to answer a question that is top of mind for all of us in education: how can we support safe teacher exploration of artificial intelligence (AI) and new technologies?

In a lively discussion facilitated by Dr. Pati Ruiz and Dr. Judi Fusco, both at Digital Promise, four panelists shared their insights and recommendations. Panelists included:

In this post, we’ll share some key takeaways from the session.

Go Slow to Go Fast

Many educators are scrambling to figure out how to use AI in their classrooms. But panelists advised practitioners to take the time to truly understand the problem they are trying to solve with AI, rather than trying to implement new technologies too quickly.

“When choosing tools, sometimes you have to go slow to go fast,” said Dr. Glazer. Before implementing any AI tool, she recommends working with leadership to understand what infrastructure is in place and what training opportunities can be made available to teachers. Ultimately, educators are in charge of the classroom; we should give them the support they need to use AI wisely.

Khuu also urged school leaders to listen to their teachers. “What problem are you actually trying to solve [with AI tools], and is it a problem your teachers actually want to solve?” he said. “Listen first, and listen for a while, before you make recommendations.”

Involve the Educational Community in AI Decisions

Dr. Muri emphasized the importance of ensuring the right people are leading the AI movement, both now and in the future. “Who is leading the artificial intelligence movement in our world today? Is it being driven by the business community, or is it driven by educators?” He views this issue as one of the biggest challenges we face when it comes to AI.

Panelists all agreed that the entire educational community—from teachers and school leaders to students and families—must be involved in the decisions around AI in the classroom. According to Dr. Glazer, this broader buy-in is essential if we want to create truly personalized learning opportunities for students through AI.

Both Dr. Glazer and De Jesus advocated for community-wide engagement to help us, as a society, determine where we want education to go, and how we will get there. “It has to be a community-led effort,” said De Jesus.

There is No Substitute for Human Judgment

AI poses exciting opportunities for education, but human intelligence will always be needed.

Dr. Muri believes AI is not simply a tool to make things easier; it is a tool to make teachers, leaders, and human beings more effective. De Jesus agreed, saying that while AI can help us do what we need to do, “it does not substitute [for] your knowledge.”

Khuu recommended “sandwiching” AI-generated outputs with human interrogation. “Our teachers still have content- and context-specific expertise that we have to continually leverage,” he said. “That is never going away.”

Ultimately, AI in education is not one size fits all. Educators should tailor the technology to their specific classroom, using their own (human-generated) intelligence. In their article AI or Intelligence Augmentation for Education?, Dr. Ruiz, Dr. Fusco, and Dr. Jeremy Roschelle echoed this perspective, advocating for an approach that centers educators’ judgment and learners’ voices in innovative designs.

Closing Thoughts

To close out the session, Dr. Fusco reminded the audience to be thoughtful when using AI in education. “We don’t want to recreate what we had all along, and just do it faster,” she said. “We need to think with intentionality about equity and justice.”

Learn More

This webinar was the second in a series of webinars on educational leadership in the age of AI. Hosted by Digital Promise with support from Siegel Family Endowment and the Robin Hood Learning + Technology Fund, this series informs and supports educational leaders as they plan and adapt their priorities relating to generative AI.

Want to know more about effective, ethical, and equitable uses of AI in education? Below are additional resources to explore:

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