Powerful Learning With Artificial Intelligence For Educators

The Need for AI Literacy in Education

The rapidly evolving space of artificial intelligence (AI) requires school and district leaders to make sense of how emerging technology applications, including those that use generative AI (Gen AI), are being integrated into schools and districts across the United States. Much uncertainty exists about what AI is, how it works and its implications for students, families, educators and the broader school community. School and district leaders have shared challenges that they are facing regarding the use of AI for teaching and learning. They are also concerned about exacerbating existing inequities in accessing digital technologies and tools, presenting further structural barriers for students and communities. In our work with educators, students and families, we have learned how critical it is for educators to understand AI literacy in order to leverage these technologies to support all learners, particularly those experiencing marginalization.

Just as AI is becoming pervasive in our everyday lives, it is pervasive throughout the school day and across subjects. AI literacy enables educators to understand how AI works, how to evaluate it and how to best adapt it for their disciplines and learners. Additionally, demystifying AI can help people engage productively and responsibly with AI technologies in society, their personal lives and their careers. At Digital Promise, we firmly believe that AI literacy is the best place to start and goes hand in hand with our Digital Equity work.

What Is AI Literacy?

AI Literacy applies 21st-century skills, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. It builds on years of work in Digital and Media Literacy and Computational Thinking, including elements of computer science, ethics and additional areas beyond science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The skills and practices necessary to engage with AI are relevant to all disciplines. More importantly, AI has the ability to expand what learning looks like within a particular discipline, introducing novel teaching strategies and applications for concepts. For example, students might train a machine learning system to recognize patterns in math class or test a text-to-speech system to see if it can differentiate between homonyms in English Language Arts.

In addition to disciplinary concepts, it is important to address areas such as the appropriate use and timing of AI, the historical context of AI development, addressing biases, safeguarding the privacy of data shared with AI systems/tools, ensuring equitable access to AI tools, and taking into account environmental and human labor considerations.

“There seems to be collective buy-in that AI has great potential for disrupting the outdated narrative of education. However, over and over, it has been highlighted that teachers need to have professional learning on AI. We need support across the educational landscape to grow educator capacity around AI.” — EngageAI Institute Forum Participant, Educator

Developing AI Literacy With Digital Equity

Digital Promise is developing processes, practices and resources for school districts to support educators in developing AI literacy and leveraging AI for powerful learning in K-12 learning environments. These supports include:

  • Learning Pathways explicitly connect classroom learning to cross-cutting initiatives, such as AI. These pathways articulate system-wide, K-12 learning opportunities that are consistent across classrooms, cumulative from year to year and competency-based.
  • Professional Learning experiences provide contextualized support for educators to learn AI literacy and apply emerging technology in their classrooms. We are working with a number of districts to promote AI literacy in alignment with their ongoing initiatives.
  • Resources such as definitional frameworks and contextualized examples are essential to support AI literacy efforts. We are developing these resources for educational leaders to define and operationalize AI for educators.

Artificial Intelligence, like all educational technology, has the ability to reproduce existing inequities in education. We have long-standing commitments to address equity and intentionally design and implement these educator supports in alignment with our Digital Equity initiative. We address three pillars — availability, affordability and adoption — in order to provide historically and systemically excluded learners and families the knowledge and skills needed to support their communities to remain connected, informed and able to fully engage in society.

We see the rapidly evolving space of artificial intelligence as an opportunity to design more inclusive learning environments. We have ongoing partnerships among learning scientists, designers and practitioners to co-design digestible, accessible and relevant content for practitioners in the realm of Digital Equity.

Read The U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology’s new policy report, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning: Insights and Recommendations and take a look at resources to advance digital equity for all learners.

Learn more about the League of Innovative Schools and learn how your school can become a Verizon Innovative Learning School.

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