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Thursday, May 30, 2024

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WEATHERS: Keeping An Eye on A.I. when it comes to Education

When you think about artificial intelligence, many futuristic images flood your mind. However, AI is quickly becoming a normal part of our everyday lives in education, business, the arts, politics, public service, etc.  

The pace of change is staggering!

AI is rapidly transforming multiple aspects of our society, often in ways we don’t even realize. AI’s influence is expanding across various sectors, fundamentally altering how we live, work, and interact with the world around us.

We are now in the age of smart technology where we only need our voice to complete a task.  Everything can be done with the utterance of a voice command or the click of a button.

AI’s rise across nearly every domain creates incredible opportunities but also risks around the displacement of human roles and ethical questions surrounding algorithmic bias. Understanding and managing AI’s growth remains an urgent priority if society is to maximize its benefits while minimizing harm. 

Its influence and the pace of innovation are already impossible to put back in the bottle.

One of the great features of AI is its ability to have human-like conversations with, well, “humans.”  

This was an exchange I had with Claude, one of the AI bots I’ve been test-driving for the last several months. I made the following request: 

“What is the latest on the AI revolution sweeping the nation; well, actually, the entire world, in the field of public education.”

Claude’s response:  

“The use of AI in education is certainly growing rapidly, but I wouldn’t quite characterize it yet as a revolution “sweeping the nation” or “entire world.” 

It then proceeded to give me a rundown of the advancements in AI that were related to my prompt.  

It closed the conversation with this response: 

“My aim was not to diminish the incredible innovations occurring with artificial intelligence, but we have to walk before we run when claiming any technology has wrought sudden sweeping transformation of a massive sector like K-12 education. Progress takes time and careful implementation. I’m confident the long-term impacts over the coming decades have the potential to be positively “revolutionary.” We just can’t let the hype exceed present-day realities. The future for AI in learning looks very bright. But while promising, AI has yet to demonstrate the capabilities required for anything resembling an established “REVOLUTION” in teaching and learning.”

Well, there you have it. And I vehemently disagree! I thought it was interesting that of the four bots I’ve been test-driving (ChatGPT, Gemini, Claude, and my newest friend, Copilot), only one (Claude) seems to be unimpressed with all the fuss over the so-called AI “Revolution.” The other three bots acknowledged the revolutionary potential of AI technology in its current form and are excited about its future.  

Anyway, AI has the potential to transform education in revolutionary ways over time. We’re still just scratching the surface of what will eventually be possible. 

However, we do have to be realistic about where the practical applications currently stand. I’m in schools every week, and I can assure you that very few of my colleagues and the students I work with know very much about AI technology.  

Most schools globally are still in the very early pilot stages of using AI. Implementation is gradual and uneven. And there are challenges of access, transparency, and responsible development that the industry grapples with daily.

Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the pace of AI development and use in K-12 education in America and around the world is accelerating, driven by both the increasing recognition of AI’s potential to enhance education and the growing availability of AI technologies. 

As these technologies become more sophisticated and widespread, the focus is increasingly on ensuring that their integration into education is thoughtful, inclusive, and aligned with educational goals. 

The ongoing dialogue among stakeholders at national and international levels will be crucial in shaping the future of AI in education, ensuring that it serves to enhance learning experiences and outcomes for all students.

Let’s face it, the emphasis on tailoring education to meet students’ individual needs is a significant shift from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach and, if mastered, could lead to improved learning outcomes across the board.

It’s evident that AI in K-12 education is a multifaceted issue requiring careful consideration of benefits, risks, and ethical implications. Parents, educators, and policymakers must collaborate to ensure that AI technologies are implemented in such ways that enrich learning while safeguarding students’ well-being and privacy.

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) clearly gets it and is doing its homework. They are putting in place the necessary resources (financial, training, partnerships, etc.) to help schools and educational organizations ease into the field of AI utilization and be prepared to address the many challenges ahead.  

They are taking a proactive and thoughtful approach to the integration of AI in school systems across the nation, focusing on both the opportunities and challenges presented by these technologies. By emphasizing ethical use, educator involvement, and the development of supportive policies and guidelines, the USDOE aims to facilitate the effective and equitable use of AI in enhancing teaching and learning at every level of our educational systems.

In the future, AI will surely be able to do much more than what it can today.  It will significantly impact our lives in so many ways. From mobile phones to social media, autonomous vehicles, home assistants, wearable devices, chatbots, and so much more, the AI invasion is here to stay.   

Because the technology is advancing so fast, we will provide an AI Update each quarter going forward. There is so much to share!

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