Daunted by AI? Here's how your school can get ahead of the curve

Daunted by AI? Here

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) reshaping multiple sectors worldwide, the teaching profession stands at a pivotal juncture, navigating the important questions of how to ethically harness this technology to improve learning while also confronting its many complex challenges.

A 2023 survey revealed that in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, the professional development and learning habits of educators and professionals worldwide experienced a significant transformation, with about one-in-three respondents reported having undertaken fewer PD activities than usual compared to the year prior.

For most teachers and leaders who are snowed under with large workloads, getting the time to thoroughly research AI and its profound implications for education has been next to impossible. Fortunately, the experts who possess the knowledge and skills that busy teachers and leaders urgently need sometimes gather under the one roof.

Since its launch just over two years ago, The Hatchery has evolved into a multi-dimensional offering that includes an extensive lineup of 100+ annual conferences, masterclasses, seminars, and private training courses for educators.

Between May 8-9 this year, The Hatchery will hold its 2nd Integrating AI in Education conference at the Rendezvous Hotel on Flinders St in Melbourne. The event, which is also being held online, will discuss critical topics such as improving teaching, curriculum & assessment using AI; ensuring balance between the digital, pedagogical and relational elements of classroom practice in the age of AI; and closing the gap between policies and realities in classrooms.

Speakers at the conference include Dr Paul Kidson, Senior Lecturer at Australian Catholic University’s School of Education, Lauren Sayer, Director of Curriculum at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, and Steve Grant, Head of Education at Grok Academy, who will delve into the potential of AI to revolutionize teaching practices and student outcomes.

This event will also hear from several schools across Australia that are using AI to deliver meaningful improvements to teaching and learning. One of them is Kardinia International College, located in Geelong, Victoria.

Below, The Educator speaks to Aisha Kristiansen, Head of Innovation and Technology, Allister Hill, Senior Teacher (Health and Physical Education) and Felicity Nagel, Senior Secondary Teacher and Technology Coach, who will be talking about how the College has been leveraging this powerful technology for impact, and what other schools can learn.

TE: How can AI be effectively integrated into educational practices to enhance student learning outcomes while addressing concerns about academic integrity and how can forums, such as the Integrating AI in Education Conference, contribute to supporting Australian schools in managing this concern?

Since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT model in November 2022, schools have been grappling with how to integrate Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) into their educational ecosystem. Challenges to traditional assessment practices that can lead to a spike in student academic misconduct, coupled with understanding how GenAI can positively impact teaching and learning has sparked rich conversations about the power of this technology in the classroom. As a school, we have undertaken a critical analysis of the potential - and the subsequent challenges - GenAI poses to our staff, students and families.

The College has been guided by important documentation such as the ‘UNESCO Guidance for Gen AI in Education and Research’ and the ‘Australian Framework for Generative Artificial Intelligence in Schools’. We have crafted a set of comprehensive guidelines that govern GenAI’s use within our context. In addition to the guidelines, there has been an urgent need to rapidly upskill our teachers, whilst developing a shared understanding about our approach. We are committed to measuring the impact of GenAI on student engagement and achievement. Forums such as The Hatchery’s ‘Integrating AI in Education Conference’ which takes place in Melbourne and Online on the 8th and 9th of May 2024 will provide educators with the opportunity to hear about best practice, engage with the latest research, connect with like-minded “think tanks” and stay on top of current trends.

TE: What are some current challenges and ethical considerations surrounding the implementation of AI in schools, and how can these be mitigated to ensure responsible use?

One of the major challenges schools have faced is the lack of clear direction from educational bodies regarding the acceptable use of GenAI. Despite the Australian guidelines being released in November, 2023, many schools are still struggling to develop a campus-wide agreement about how these tools should be used and the implications they have on student learning. In addition to these early challenges, schools also need to equip their learning community with an understanding about the bias that sits within the systems, ensure data privacy and security is being addressed, and rapidly upskill their staff, students and parents. Getting the right people around the table early will be paramount to the school’s success.

TE: In what ways can educators leverage AI as a tool to innovate teaching methodologies and personalise learning experiences for students, while ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all learners?

Harnessing the power of Generative AI allows classrooms to shift from the traditional teacher-centric model towards a highly personalised, student-driven space. The ability to differentiate learning and drive student engagement can positively impact academic outcomes by ensuring that we are meeting young people at their point of need.

At Kardinia International College, we are exploring applications such as SchoolAI, Copilot, Diffit and a variety of image-generation tools to support collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. With a broad range of tools flooding the market daily, it is important that schools identify a core suite of apps - both within and beyond the school’s main software platforms - that will allow teachers and students to really test the boundaries of what is possible with this exciting technology.

For more information about The Hatchery's 2nd Integrating AI in Education Conference, you can download the program here.

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