How should we approach ethical considerations of AI in K-12 education?
We live in a world fundamentally transformed by our own creations. Once imagined only in science fiction, artificial intelligence now powers much of the technology we interact with every day, from smart home devices and cognitive assistants to media recommendations. Although subtle by design, the impact of AI is far reaching.
The field of education is no less affected by these technologies. AI appears in educational chatbots, personalized learning systems and administrative tools. Continuing on this trajectory, it is likely that there will likely not be a field or industry spared by AI for a long time. And with this change comes a host of new questions — concerns about the ethical design and implementation of these new tools.
In Kindergarten to Grade 12 education, an emphasis on ethical considerations is of critical importance. Many teachers and education leaders select and use AI-powered tools despite little computer or artificial intelligence knowledge. Tools like Turnitin that check for plagiarism, smart tutoring software like Khan Academy or iReady that automate or personalize teaching, and chatbots like Alexa that answer student questions are all vulnerable to algorithmic biases in development and results. inequitable in implementation. Additionally, since effective AI solutions require large amounts of information, maintaining the privacy of student data is an ongoing challenge.
Moreover, educators are not the only ones using AI technologies. Students, as consumers and users of AI tools themselves, need basic training in what AI is and how it works. The ethical questions of educators around AI education must begin by ensuring equitable access to this learning for all students – in all subjects, grade levels and demographic backgrounds. Then, this education must go beyond simple explanations of how the technology works to include the corresponding ethical questions and the impacts on society.
This need is highlighted in the Digital Citizen standard of ISTE standards for students, which calls for “students to adopt positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology”. The light at research and new highlighting the negative impacts of AI technologies, students need this education to make positive and ethical decisions about the use – and possibly the development – of AI-based technologies like facial recognition, media platforms social workers and cognitive assistants. As the creators of our common future, today’s students must consider concrete examples of ethical dilemmas and imagine paths to better results.
Explorations of AI and its practical use in schools—An ISTE initiative funded by General Motors — aims to help educators and students do just that.
Through professional learning opportunities for educators, the program is designed to address the inequalities of traditionally under-represented populations in STEM fields and prepare today’s students for the careers of tomorrow in AI. To date, over a thousand educators and education leaders have participated in the program’s online courses, webinars and professional learning network.
In 2020, the AI Explorations program released a four-volume guide series for elementary, secondary, elective, and computer science teachers: Hands-on AI Projects for the Classroom. Available free of charge in English, Spanish, and Arabic, these guides provide basic resources, interactive scaffolding activities, and related extensions that can be used by teachers of all classes and content areas to teach development, application, and learning. impact of AI technologies.
This year ISTE added a new volume to the series—Practical AI Projects for the Classroom: A Guide to Ethics and AI. While the original guides addressed some aspects of the biases and societal impacts in each of the projects, this addition provides a strategic examination of AI through ethical lenses tailored to K-12 development. In the past, teachers have often addressed ethical issues in the classroom through character-based civics education, but the nature of today’s technologies prompts us to consider much more than our decision-making processes. . In fact, since AI-powered tools often influence our personal decisions through recommendations and nudges in ways we don’t even realize, our own behaviors depend on ethical design and development. AI tools.
The Ethics and AI Guide helps teachers educate elementary students about fairness, autonomy, and the nature of good and bad use of technology. Likewise, the guide helps high school teachers dig deeper to explore ethical lenses, gray areas, various stakeholders, accountability, and even policymaking around AI. The guide does not provide ethical answers and does not ask teachers to instill their own ethical frameworks or values. Instead, the four included projects teach students to think about ethical questions and assess various outcomes – skills they can take with them throughout their lives.
Mark Gerl, professor of technology at Galloway School and participant in the AI Explorations program, has given much thought to the ethical implications of using and teaching AI. While working with the guide’s authors to develop two projects, Gerl observed, “The more I think about it, all of the technology has been a series of tradeoffs. A sword is better than a sharp staff, but you need to be stronger to lift it, and that requires forging it, sharpening it, cleaning it, etc. Too often we only see the benefit but rarely stop to think about what we are giving up. or override when we make those choices, especially in technology areas. It considers the examination of ethical issues and societal impacts to be a crucial part of any technological education.
The guide intentionally provides supportive resources for educators and a variety of activities and discussion questions to foster further investigation and understanding. For example, the concept of technological compromises is woven into all ethics and AI projects, encouraging students to consider privacy, freedoms, or civil rights that could be sacrificed in the name of efficiency, customization or convenience. In fact, students examine relevant real-world examples, such as the impact of recommendation systems on reinforcing stereotypes or the effects of AI automation on jobs via virtual simulations, videos, experiments and other engaging activities.
Of course, teachers and students are not meant to become ethicists just by using this guide or teaching a single project or unit on AI and ethical issues. Nonetheless, the AI Explorations team believes that the more teachers and students discuss these issues, the better off we will all become. We all have a shared responsibility to ensure that AI is used and taught ethically and fairly, in education and beyond. This guide is yet another tool to help us achieve that goal.