Best Practices in Education

Report: Best Use of AI in Augmenting (Not Replacing) Teacher

A new report is out to help teachers and school leaders understand how artificial intelligence can change education. "Artificial Intelligence (AI) in K-12," prepared by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), examines how the technology can augment what educators do to help students get "personalized instruction at scale" while also introducing "new challenges and considerations." The project was supported by Microsoft and CoSN's memorial fund, the Charles Blaschke Fund.

The report asserted that AI already exists in applications being used by schools, such as learning analytic platforms, online courseware, voice assistants and within commonly used programs such as the AI in Microsoft Office that recommends a PowerPoint layout or suggests a formula in Excel.

A big area of focus is on how the education community should consider the use of AI in terms of "privacy, bias and literacy. As the authors noted, most AI tech has been designed and developed for commercial purposes, which means it doesn't pay much attention to state or federal privacy legislation meant for school-age children. Also, much of AI is driven by "black-box" algorithms, which may introduce "flaws and biases" into the interpretation of data. And, educators will need a certain level of "algorithmic literacy" to use AI effectively.

The main message is that AI on its own won't replace the "presence of a high-quality teacher." Its "true promise," the report suggested, will require a "combination of high-tech and high-touch," using AI "to support great teachers and create new learning opportunities for students that take advantage of meaningful human relationships."

"Artificial intelligence has the power to advance education and supplement the learning process of each and every student with personalized instruction," said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. "We are grateful for our partners' support on this project and hope this report gives school districts insight on how this groundbreaking technology can improve existing practices and broadly reshape education moving forward."

The full 14-page report is openly available on a link provided by CoSN.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.