Predicting the Challenges of AI Use in Schools (And How to Avoid Them)

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One of the most surprising things about artificial intelligence is just how quickly it has progressed. That’s also one of the reasons some are still wary about using it, particularly in school settings. When it’s changing so quickly, how can we predict what the challenges of AI use will be? How do we make sure to prepare for those challenges, so that our students don’t wind up suffering the consequences?

There’s no way to guarantee what the future will hold, but we can make predictions based on the current state of AI in schools and the most common issues associated with introducing any new technology into classrooms. Here are the most likely challenges educators will face when bringing AI into the classroom, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Teacher Preparedness

Navigating a world powered by AI is a skill students will need to develop, but as with any new technology, teachers need to feel confident and capable using AI themselves before introducing it to their students. Incorporating AI literacy into professional development programs will be the key to ensuring that teachers are well-versed in what AI can do. Proper training on its strengths and limitations will prepare your teachers to use AI themselves, in turn being able to better support their students in becoming AI literate.

2. Privacy and Security Concerns

The collection of data that is required for certain uses of AI raises legitimate concerns about privacy and security. Educators need to be vigilant and maintain robust privacy policies, ensuring the protection of any and all sensitive information. It’s a good idea to set a formal policy outlining responsible AI use in your school or district, so that every member of staff has a clear understanding of how AI should and should not be used. Your district tech team should also get into the habit of vetting products already used in your classrooms to learn about any new or upcoming features that employ AI, so as not to be caught off guard by any unforeseen changes.

3. Unreliable Outcomes

Given the newness of AI tools, research on their impact and effectiveness is inherently limited. It’s safe to assume that research on AI use in schools will increase in the coming years, but until then, educators will just have to use their best judgment in deciding where AI is most effective in the classroom. There will be AI tools that live up to the hype, and AI tools that don’t. Keep an eye on your data, and if you’re not seeing the progress that an AI tool or product promised, it might be time to try something else instead.

4. Accessibility and Equity

The rise of AI is yet another example of the importance of 21st century skills. In order to be successful in the job markets of tomorrow, every student needs to be prepared to use AI tools. But the potential for a digital divide appears if access to AI tools is not uniform across all students. If you are planning to introduce an AI-powered resource into your classrooms, take care to ensure that it is done equitably so that every student has the opportunity to benefit from it.

Weighing the Risks

There will be other challenges of AI use that arise beyond the ones listed above, but that also holds true for any new addition to the classroom. Half of secondary teachers surveyed by Capgemini Research Institute believe that the benefits of generative AI in education outweigh the risks, and the majority of administrators we’ve spoken to over the past year have expressed the same feelings. As long as you keep a close eye on how AI is being used in your school or district, you’ll be able to spot any potential risks and respond to them accordingly.

Read our breakdown of the K-12 Generative AI Readiness Checklist released by the Council of the Great City Schools and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) to make sure you’re keeping up with the latest recommendations and best practices for AI use.

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