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Fostering responsible and safe AI implementation in K-12 education: A policy brief for teachers and principals

This is a preview of our responsible AI Policy brief. Our goal is to provide educators with a framework for understanding what responsible AI is and how to evaluate AI tools to determine their safety. Scroll down to view our checklist for teachers and administrators.

By:
Merlyn Mind
February 7, 2024

This is a preview of our responsible AI Policy brief and checklist for teachers and administrators. Our goal is to provide educators with a framework for understanding what responsible AI is and how to evaluate AI tools to determine their safety. As you read this brief and the checklists, please consider where it falls short and what we can do to make it better. You can use this Google form to provide feedback. Your feedback will be anonymous. Please do not provide any personal data in your responses, such as your name or contact information.

We value your input and will use it to strengthen this document for you. 

In today’s rapidly changing technology landscape, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in K-12 classrooms shows incredible promise for transforming traditional teaching methods and enhancing the learning experience for all students. It is through AI technologies that we have unprecedented opportunities for personalized learning, adaptive assessment, and innovative teaching methods (Yue, Jong, & Dai, 2022). As schools begin to embrace AI technologies, it becomes imperative to establish a foundation of responsible and safe AI implementation. In a time when data and privacy considerations are paramount, educators must embrace AI technologies with a profound understanding of the potential impact on their students' lives.  

This policy brief sets the stage for an exploration of ethical guidelines, privacy protection measures, and strategies to mitigate biases. In doing so, it equips educators and administrators with the tools necessary to navigate the dynamic landscape of AI in education responsibly. By providing a comprehensive framework, this policy brief aims to empower K-12 stakeholders to take advantage of the benefits of AI while safeguarding the well-being of students. As AI begins to transform the educational landscape, it is important to remember that this is not a matter of simply adopting a new technology.Rather it is about fostering an educational ecosystem that upholds principles of transparency, fairness, and accountability, ensuring that AI serves as a catalyst for positive change rather than an unwitting source of unintended consequences. 

Strategies for Responsible & Safe AI Implementation 

Ethical Guidelines 

The use of AI in a K-12 setting requires clear and established ethical guidelines (Huang, Zhang, Mao, & Yao, 2022). These guidelines should accentuate principles of transparency, fairness, and accountability. Emphasizing transparency ensures that educators and students can comprehend the operations and decision-making process of AI systems. Fairness underscores the need to address potential biases in AI algorithms, promoting equitable learning opportunities for all students. Accountability places responsibility on educational institutions to uphold ethical standards, fostering a culture of trust and responsibility. 

Privacy Protection 

Privacy protection is a cornerstone in the responsible integration ofAI in K-12 education (Leaton Gray, 2020; Huang, 2023). To ensure that personal and sensitive information is protected, districts will want to implement data protection measures. Such measures should align with existing privacy laws including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). However, you should work closely with your legal counsel on any legal issues, such as data privacy and compliance with COPPA and FERPA.

By demonstrating a commitment to data security, district leaders will help foster a culture of confidence and trust amongst teachers, students, and parents. At a minimum, privacy protection measures should include: (a) secure data storage, (b) encryption, (c) ensuring that the data collected remains confidential and protected from unauthorized access or breaches, and (d) establishing clear protocols governing the collection, storage, and sharing of any data including how long the data will be kept for. 

Addressing & Mitigating Bias 

To ensure equitable and inclusive learning experiences in K-12education, it is critical that we address and mitigate biases in AI algorithms(Baker & Hawn, 2021). Because homogeneous data sources can inadvertently introduce and reinforce biases (Ferrara, 2023), it is essential to encourage the use of diverse datasets in the development and evaluation of AI tools. Districts should seek out AI technologies that have used diverse datasets to train their system so that it better reflects the student population. Involving educators in the development and evaluation processes ensures that diverse perspectives are considered, and biases are identified early on. By fostering collaboration between educators and AI developers, the education system can work towards AI tools that are more reflective of the diverse student body, promoting inclusivity and fairness in educational outcomes. 

Addressing Harmful & Inaccurate Responses 

When integrating AI tools into K-12, it is important to consider the potential for harmful or inaccurate responses that might be provided. Such responses can impact students' well-being and educational outcomes. Mitigating the risks of harmful and/or inaccurate responses requires districts to develop clear protocols for identifying, reporting, and resolving any AI-generated content considered problematic. Anyone who engages with the AI tool – teachers, administrators, students, etc ... - should understand how to flag and report any concerns that arise while using it and understand the procedure for when and how their concern will be reviewed and addressed.  

Implementation Strategies 

Professional Development 

Comprehensive professional development for educators is critical to ensure the successful implementation of AI in K-12 education (Lee, et al.,2022). Districts will want to invest in programs that help teachers develop the knowledge needed to effectively integrate AI tools into their classrooms. These programs should cover not only the technical aspects of AI but also focus on the ethical considerations, privacy protocols, and bias detection strategies outlined in this brief. Tailored workshops, seminars, and online courses can empower educators to confidently navigate AI technologies, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptation in response to evolving educational needs. 

Collaboration and Partnerships 

Fostering collaboration between educational institutions and AI developers is paramount for responsible AI implementation. Establishing partnerships with reputable AI technology providers can facilitate the adoption of cutting-edge tools while ensuring alignment with ethical guidelines and privacy standards. Collaborative initiatives could include joint workshops, forums, and ongoing dialogues where educators can share insights, concerns, and best practices with AI developers. Furthermore, schools can form partnerships with data scientists and ethicists to conduct regular audits of AI systems, ensuring ongoing transparency, fairness, and accountability. By creating a network of collaboration, schools can collectively contribute to the development and improvement of AI tools, reinforcing a shared commitment to responsible and safe AI integration in K-12 education. 

Phased Rollout & Early Adopters 

In implementing a new AI tool, it is important to create a phased rollout plan as well as identify those individuals who will be your early adopters. A phased rollout has multiple benefits including: (a) opportunity to systematically integrate AI technologies, (b) minimize disruptions for teachers and students, and (c) identify and resolve any issues with the technology before widespread implementation takes place. 

Identifying early adopters is an important component of creating a successful rollout. Early adopters are often your most tech-savvy teachers and administrators who tend to be enthusiastic about trying out a new technology. By identifying and supporting early adopters, districts and schools can leverage their expertise to facilitate a smoother transition for the entire school community. Establishing a collaborative network among early adopters allows for the exchange of best practices, insights, and creative applications of AI in the classroom, creating a supportive ecosystem that encourages innovation. 

Conclusion 

The integration of AI in K-12 education holds tremendous potential for revolutionizing traditional teaching methods and elevating the learning experience for students. As we embark on this path, it is incumbent upon educators and administrators to approach AI implementation with a deliberate focus on responsibility and safety. This policy brief has laid a foundation for navigating the complexities of AI in education by delving into ethical guidelines, privacy protection measures, and strategies to address biases. 

The strategies outlined, emphasizing professional development and fostering collaboration, are pivotal in ensuring the responsible integration ofAI in educational settings. Comprehensive professional development equips educators with the necessary skills, knowledge, and ethical considerations to confidently embrace AI tools, promoting a culture of continuous learning. Collaborative partnerships between educational institutions and AI developers play a crucial role in aligning technology adoption with ethical standards and ensuring ongoing transparency and accountability. 

As we advocate for responsible and safe AI implementation, it is crucial to recognize that this endeavor goes beyond merely adopting a new technology. We must uphold an educational ecosystem that promotes the principles of transparency, fairness, and accountability. By following the ethical guidelines, implementing robust privacy protection measures, and addressing biases, educators and administrators can harness the benefits of AI while safeguarding the well-being of students. Through thoughtful consideration, ongoing collaboration, and a commitment to ethical practices, AI can serve as a catalyst for positive change in K-12 education, contributing to a future where innovation aligns seamlessly with responsible and inclusive educational practices. 

Responsible & Safe AI Checklist for Teachers

The checklist below can be used to help evaluate AI tools for their safety and guide discussions you may have with the provider.

 

Responsible & Safe AI Checklist for Administrators

The checklist below can be used to help evaluate AI tools for their safety and guide discussions you may have with the provider.

References 

Baker, R.S. & Hawn, A. 2021. Algorithmic bias in education. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education (Springer Science and Business Media LLC)(pp 1-41). 

Ferrara, E. (2023). Fairness And Bias in Artificial Intelligence: A Brief Survey of Sources, Impacts, And Mitigation Strategies. Computers andSociety, 1-29. 

Leaton Gray, S. (2020). Artificial intelligence in schools: Towards a democratic future. London Review of Education, 18 (2): 163–177. 

Huang, L. (2023). Ethics of artificial intelligence in education: Student privacy and data collection.  

Huang, C., Zhang, Z., Mao, B., & Yao, X. (2022). An overview of artificial intelligence ethics. IEEE Transactions on Artificial Intelligence(pp. 1-21). Science Insights Education Frontiers 2023;16(2):2577-2587.  

Lee, I., Zhang, H., Moore, K., Zhou, X., Perret, B., Cheng, Y., Zheng, R., & Pu, G. (2022). AI book club: An innovative professional development model of AI education. SIGCSE 2022, March 3–5, 

Yue, M., Jong, M., & Dai, Y. (2022). Pedagogical design of K-12 artificial intelligence education: A systematic review. Sustainability 2022,14, 1-29.