Learning journey for, about, and with AI

EDEH Squad “AI in Education” learning journey

Nowadays, we are overwhelmed with news about artificial intelligence, its impact on our work and daily lives, and its potential benefits and threats. What impact does AI have on education? How can we employ it for good and avoid negative influence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems that, given a set of human-defined objectives, can influence real or virtual environments through predictions, recommendations, or decisions. AI systems interact with us and have direct or indirect effects on our environment. Often, they appear to operate autonomously and can adapt their behaviour by acquiring knowledge about the context. (UNICEF, 2021)

Connections between AI and education are multiple, AI has the potential to support education by providing personalized and adaptive learning experiences to students, automating administrative tasks, analysing large amounts of education data, to identify patterns and trends that can inform decision-making. AI role in Education is usually described as teaching or learning with AI, about AI and for AI. While only a small percentage of a population of learners may wish or be required to learn about AI in order to become AI designers or developers, the suggestion is that all citizens should be encouraged and supported to attain a certain level of AI literacy. (CoE, 2022)

As AI systems continue to evolve and data usage rises, it is of the utmost importance to develop a better comprehension of their impact on the world, especially in education.  Educators and school leaders must have a fundamental understanding of artificial intelligence and data usage in order to interact positively, critically, and ethically with this technology and to maximise its potential. (EC, 2022)

But often we are facing some common misconceptions about AI, including that it is too difficult to comprehend the functionality of AI systems, that AI systems cannot be trusted, that AI has no place in education, or that AI will undermine the teacher’s role. Rather than replacing teachers, AI can support teachers, enabling them to construct learning experiences that empower students to be creative, to think, to solve real-world problems, to collaborate effectively, and to engage in activities that AI systems cannot do on their own. (EC, 2022)

Some of already existing examples of the AI use in education are:

  • Tutoring system – the learner follows a step-by-step sequence of tasks through conversation.
  • Teaching assistants – AI recommendation engines are used to recommend specific learning activities or resources based on each student’s preferences, progress and needs.
  • Formative assessment – Learners are provided with regular automatic feedback.

However, it is important to note that the use of AI in education also raises ethical concerns, such as privacy and security issues, potential biases in algorithms, and the potential for automation to replace human teachers and staff. Therefore, it is important to ensure that AI is used in a responsible and ethical manner in educational settings.

In February 2023, European Digital Education Hub Squad “AI in Education” is founded in response to recent AI-related developments. From February until the end of June 2023, the “AI in Education” Squad worked intensively to discuss various aspects of AI use and its impact on Education. The result of these discussions is the creation of seven briefing reports.

As a leader of the European Digital Education Hub’s “AI in Education” squad I would like to assist you in discovering the benefits and risks of AI and learning about AI to be able to teach with AI. Please review Squad’s briefing reports, which cover topics such as teachers’ AI competences, supporting teachers for the AI age, AI curriculum development, and ethical and governance considerations; and join us on this learning journey.
Briefing reports by AI in Education EDEH Squad:

  1. Teachers’ competences
  2. How to support teachers to use AI in teaching
  3. Use scenarios & practical examples of AI use in education
  4. Education about AI
  5. Influence of AI on governance in education
  6. AI and Ethics, human rights, law, education data
  7. Teaching with AI – assessment, feedback and personalisation

I would like to thank to all Squad members who contributed to these reports: Riina Vuorikari, Jessica Niewint-Gori, Dara Cassidy, Francisco Bellas, Madhumalti Sharma, Ari Laitala, Cristina Obae, Yann-Aël Le Borgne, Anne Gilleran, Petra Bevek, Oksana Pasichnyk, Elise Rondin, Johanna Gröpler, Gordana Janakievska, Bertine van Deyzen, Martina Weber, Robbe Wulgaert, Alexa Joyce and Lidija Kralj; supported by Leon Koch

Teaching with AI – Assessment, Feedback and Personalisation

Briefing report No. 7
by the European Digital Education Hub’s squad on artificial intelligence in education
Authors: Jessica Niewint-Gori, Dara Cassidy, Riina Vourikari, Francisco Bellas, Lidija Kralj.

The focus of this report is to explore the potential of a number of related areas in the domain of teaching with artificial intelligence (AI) – assessment, feedback and personalisation. It builds on the previous briefing reports, each of which have explored different facets of the use of AI in education. One of the most touted benefits of AI for education is the potential it offers for personalisation – the delivery of education
interventions that are tailored to the specific needs of individual learners. This may be manifest in a variety of ways, including via adaptive learning and intelligent tutoring systems. At the core of this capacity is the ability to assess a learner’s mastery of a particular concept, identify gaps in knowledge or areas for improvement, and deliver feedback or resources to address that gap (Phillips et al, 2020). The ability to
harness AI to create high quality assessments, feedback and tailored resources has the potential to deliver benefits for individual students, teachers, education institutions, and society as a whole.

In considering this potential, it is important to consider education in all its complexity and be mindful of the potential risks as well as the benefits. As detailed in briefing report 5: The Influence of AI on Governance in Education, the draft EU Artificial Intelligence Act proposes a risk-based approach to AI focused on four risk levels: unacceptable, high, limited, and minimal. Throughout this report, we aim to draw attention to the
potential for risk as we explore how AI’s capacity for personalisation might deliver benefits at many levels (learner, teacher, institution, using the same distinction as the Wayne Holmes et al, 2022 report) of the education system and ultimately at the broader societal level.

Briefing report ends with Recommendations by the Squad

AI holds great promise for enhancing education, but it should be implemented responsibly to ensure the protection of students’ rights and interests. Proper checks and balances, transparency, and human oversight are key to mitigating the potential risks associated with AI in education. AI should be used to complement and enhance existing pedagogical practices rather than replace them. AI algorithms, especially in education, should be designed to produce understandable and interpretable outcomes. Explainable AI aims to make AI decision-making processes transparent to understand how the system arrived at its conclusions, which is particularly crucial in areas like assessment. Despite the use of AI for automating various processes, human oversight should still be a significant part of the system. Educators should have the final say in grading or making decisions that significantly affect students’ academic standing. AI systems must respect and protect the privacy of the students. Data handling procedures should comply with privacy laws and regulations, ensuring the confidentiality and security of sensitive student information. Biases can influence the fairness of the system and have serious implications for all stakeholders in education, so efforts should be made to identify and mitigate biases in AI algorithms. Also, if the system fails or produces erroneous results, there should be mechanisms in place to identify the cause of the issue and rectify it. To ensure the accuracy of the performance of AI systems, they should be regularly monitored and evaluated to identify and address any
emerging issues promptly and to help to ensure fairness and effectiveness.

Read whole report No. 7 “Teaching with AI – Assessment, Feedback and Personalisation” and find all other briefing reports by European Digital Education Hub’s squad on artificial intelligence in education in the post “Learning journey for, about, and with AI“.
We also invite you to join the European Digital Education Hub.

AI and Ethics, Human Rights, Law and Educational Data

Briefing report No. 6
by the European Digital Education Hub’s squad on artificial intelligence in education
Authors: Elise Rondin, Francisco Bellas, Martina Weber, Petra Bevek, Bertine van Deyzen, Jessica Niewint-Gori, Cristina Obae, Anne Gilleran and Lidija Kralj.

The issues linked to ethics of AI, the right to privacy, data protection, gender inequality or human rights, are also present in the education sector, where the population is often more vulnerable, notably due to a young age and a lack of understanding. Therefore, it is highly important to put in place and implement legal safeguards and technical norms for the ethical use of AI in education, to ensure that its use does not violate rights of students, teachers and other people in the educational sphere. If this duty must be mainly the responsibility of the states, other actors, including schools, teachers as well as tech companies have an important role to play. Ensuring that students are aware of these issues is also important for them to understand how AI systems work and what their risks are.

Briefing report ends with Recommendations by the Squad

Caution should be a keyword at every level in using AI in education. Students need to be taught their rights and how to protect themselves, teachers need to be cognisant of the range of information collected in the AI tools they use, developers need to guard against undue influence and be aware of potential bias, and finally governmental bodies need to take a firm position with robust legislations to protect their citizens while excising a rigorous approach to their own use of AI in data collection.
In general, we recommend the following learning goals related to AI literacy and ethics:

  • Identify and analyse the ethical and environmental opportunities and threats
    arising from the everyday use of AI.
  • Promote a safe, responsible and conscious use of digital tools and technologies
    related to AI.
  • Analyse and understand the human footprint and the influence of risks in automated decision-making processes.
  • Identify and evaluate the ethical and policy implications of the design and use of AI systems, including fairness, bias, discrimination and accountability.
  • Critically analyse the potential of AI to improve peoples’ quality of life, assessing
    its operability in different social, economic and cultural contexts.
  • Know and understand the risks and benefits of AI in different areas, such as health, security and privacy.

Read whole report No. 6 “AI and Ethics, Human Rights, Law and Educational Data” and find all other briefing reports by European Digital Education Hub’s squad on artificial intelligence in education in the post “Learning journey for, about, and with AI“.
We also invite you to join the European Digital Education Hub.

Influence of AI on Governance in Education

Briefing report No. 5
by the European Digital Education Hub’s squad on artificial intelligence in education
Authors: Gordana Janakievska, Riina Vuorikari, Yann-Aël Le Borgne, Martina Weber, Cristina Obae, Jessica Niewint-Gori, Anne Gilleran and Lidija Kralj.

Education governance refers to how decision making happens in education systems and how education systems allocate roles and responsibilities, determine priorities and designs, and carry out education policies and programmes (OECD, 2019). From an education governance point of view, it is increasingly important to explore and discuss the possibilities, risks and limits of artificial intelligence (AI) in education. Observing
the institutionalisation of new education governance practices that emerge as a result of the integration of digital technologies into education is necessary in order to share best practices and gain knowledge. To discuss these new governance practices, the UNESCO guidance for policy makers for AI in education and European Parliament proposal of AI Act (adopted text, June 2023) are taken into consideration.
A number of AI tools for educational purposes are already in use (see Briefing report No.3 “Use Scenarios and practical examples of AI use in Education”). Many positive examples for effective use start to emerge, however, there are also many concerns for responsible adoption, such as the lack of strategies to specify measures that are conducive to effective use of AI for educational purposes. There is a need for establishing an integrated education governance package for AI that encompasses educational reform, ensuring inclusive, equitable and ethical use of AI. Policies and strategies for using AI in education are central to maximising AI’s benefits and mitigating its potential risks as a new tool to accelerate the progress towards the achievement
of the UN’s sustainable development goal 4 (SDG 4) – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Briefing report ends with Recommendations by the Squad

With AI and the associated data, new norms and new governance models emerge, and new actors enter the education sector while others lose their value in the system. Although national authorities are reacting quickly establishing or improving their AI strategies, it is difficult at the moment to have a clear picture of what this virtual AI-based ecosystem will look like, what governance it will have, and what actors will be involved, but four common areas of concern emerge from the national and regional policies:

  • the importance of governance for data and privacy;
  • the importance of openness to ensure equal universal access and promote
  • curriculum innovation that can address the potential and implications of AI;
  • financial support for the effective implementation of AI.

The primary purpose of applying AI in education should be to enhance learning, enabling every learner to develop their individual potential, and policies should reflect and support it. A comprehensive AI strategy is recommended covering interdisciplinarity, humanity, ethics, scalability and sustainability, responsibility, equity and lifelong learning for all.

Read whole report No. 5 “Influence of AI on Governance in Education” and find all other briefing reports by European Digital Education Hub’s squad on artificial intelligence in education in the post “Learning journey for, about, and with AI“.
We also invite you to join the European Digital Education Hub.