In recent years, the development of AI has had an increased impact on different sectors. AI has been emerging globally in schools, with some specific case studies in Australia, China and the United States being noted online. AI has provided quality, immersive experiences for children and administration and workload support for class teachers and leadership staff.
The education sector in the UK is struggling, with many teachers leaving the profession, citing workload as one of the driving factors for this move. Could the use of AI effectively support staff workload and improve outcomes and experiences for pupils in the classroom? This blog explores the benefits and some of the ethical challenges we may face as we navigate this new area of assisted technology and its emergence in the UK.
The Benefits of AI on Teacher WorkloadSupport curriculum planning
AI word programs can very quickly and efficiently generate planning ideas for sessions. This can reduce planning time and provide a scaffold for refining lessons. Teachers can even ask AI to generate questions for different graded abilities, such as ‘create a set of questions based on chapter 3 of (text) for a more able year 6 pupil who has exceeded age related expectation.’Create adaptive content
AI can quickly adapt content or pupil support documents to meet different learners' needs using various techniques. This can include additional instructions, an explanation of key terms, a summary of key points to include as further support, providing the work in a dual language text or even scaffolding text with images to support understanding.Create lesson resources
AI generates good text examples for children to compare and support their progress. Facts for knowledge organisers can be quickly generated, as well as questions, cloze procedures, and other commonly used lesson activities.Admin support
AI can also be used to create reports, presentations, or staff meeting content. It can also be used to write assemblies, letters to parents, curriculum intent documents, long-term planning outlines or other proposals. Often, these documents are time-consuming and difficult to write without a starting point as support.
The Challenges of AI on Teacher WorkloadIntegrating AI into existing systems
Many schools have a lot of systems in place online to protect and safeguard pupils and staff. As a result, AI may not be easily available in schools and firewall protected. In addition to this, budgets for schools are low, and typically, there is a lag between technology in the private sector and education. Providing these services in a cost-effective and regulatory way may prove very challenging for schools in the current climate.Equality Issues
Not all students have access to the same technology or internet connectivity at home, leading to disparities in their access to AI-powered learning tools. This can exacerbate educational inequalities. Some students will have access to AI tools in the home to support, compare and influence the work that they produce. Others may not.Teacher Resistance
Some educators may resist the integration of AI into the classroom, fearing that it may replace their roles or reduce the personal touch in teaching. Overcoming this resistance requires effective training and support. It is also vital that there is a robust and positive culture within a setting regarding its approach to using AI that will be consistent with all staff. This provides safe boundaries and fairness and values human input while maximising the efficiency of tech support.Quality Control
The quality of AI-generated content and assessments may vary, leading to concerns about accuracy and reliability. It's crucial to ensure that AI systems are rigorously tested and monitored. It is also vital that the human element is not removed. It is my belief that AI provides excellent support for professionals. Still, documents created require fact-checking and proofreading/ refining by professionals to ensure accurate information meets the intended requirements.Ethical Dilemmas
AI can inadvertently reinforce biases present in data, leading to discrimination in educational outcomes. AI pulls its content from the internet but does not always filter the quality and accuracy of that content. Schools must actively address bias and promote fairness in AI applications. AI-generated content should always be fact-checked and ensure it is bias-free.Technological Dependence
Relying heavily on AI can create a technological dependency, making it challenging to revert if necessary. Striking a balance between AI and human instruction is essential.
Integrating AI in schools holds great promise for supporting class teachers and leaders with their workload. There are ethical and quality control challenges, but these can be overcome with integrity and diligence when using AI technology as a means of support.
Ultimately, AI technology is well-placed to support and relieve the workload burden in a significant way. However, its success hinges on teachers and leaders identifying clear objectives and ensuring the documents produced are free from bias and factually sound.
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