AI In Schools, The Future of Learning – The Impact on Education IT and Security

Students using AI in school

The education landscape is evolving, and artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as a transformative force. While adopting AI offers exciting possibilities for enhanced efficiency, personalised learning, and optimised school operations, it’s crucial to remember that preparation is key. Just as important as implementing AI solutions into a school, is the need to ensure the school’s IT infrastructure and security protocols are robust enough to handle them. This means understanding data ownership, origin, protection, access, control, storage, and distribution, all with the utmost vigilance. It’s essential to prevent sensitive information like salaries, grades, and reports from falling into unauthorised hands while ensuring seamless access to learning materials and personal data for students and authorised personnel. By actively addressing these IT and security considerations, schools can harness the power of AI responsibly and unlock a future where technology empowers educators, engages students, and fosters a thriving learning environment for all.

How can schools leverage AI in the classroom to achieve better learning outcomes?

Currently, the learning environment in each school varies depending on factors like resources, programs, and individual teachers’ pedagogical approaches. This can create differences in the pace and depth of learning experienced by students, especially considering the diversity of learning styles and paces among learners. Imagine a tool that uses the set curriculum and specialises the teaching and class content to assist students in learning and progress based on their individual needs and preferred learning styles, whether visual, auditory, read/write, or kinesthetic. AI can act as a powerful assistant, offering teachers valuable insights and personalised learning materials to cater to each student’s unique journey, be they challenged, on-track, or advanced learners.

Empowering teachers with AI is the foundation for unlocking transformative learning. AI becomes a powerful tool, enabling them to personalise learning journeys, tailored to diverse needs and learning styles. This frees teachers to focus on the core of their role, crafting engaging content, sparking student curiosity, and nurturing individual growth. The result? A vibrant learning environment where students become active participants, driven by deeper understanding and a love for knowledge.

As we discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, limitations to learning beyond the classroom became strikingly evident. An ‘augmented teacher’, powered by AI, becomes your personal champion, supporting you not only at home but also in the classroom. There are already products in the early stages, including Microsoft’s Copilot technology, that offer this type of support. Using this product, students have the choice to get discreet explanations without disrupting the class flow and don’t need to be worried about asking a question. Your AI mentor is always there, catering to your unique needs and learning style. This isn’t a replacement for dedicated educators, but a powerful ally – ensuring no question goes unanswered and no curiosity remains unexplored. These tools spark curiosity and critical thinking, prompting students to engage with information, question it, and learn from teachers, fellow students and family members through shared inquiry. This collaborative process leads to deeper understanding and builds valuable research skills.

Microsoft’s Co-pilot technology, an AI assistant integrated into apps like Word and Excel, aims to revolutionise work by offering personalised support and automating tasks and can be seamlessly integrated into learning platforms.

Optimising School Operations with AI

Educators are feeling the strain and it extends far beyond the classroom walls. This was evident when teachers took large-scale action in NSW in 2021-22 in the hope of reducing workloads, increasing their pay and improving professional respect. Research tells us that a teacher’s well-being directly affects student achievement. When educators struggle, their ability to provide engaging, effective instruction diminishes. This creates a vicious cycle where students who need support the most receive less, widening the achievement gap and perpetuating inequities. We need to lighten the administrative load, not just in words, but through concrete actions such as reducing paperwork and allowing teachers to focus on planning and preparation of lessons. In a recent NSW study of more than 18 000 public school teachers in NSW, teachers stated they required more time and resources to develop teaching programs and to differentiate the curriculum to meet students’ needs. As a result, the NSW Education Department is working with Microsoft to build a ‘child-safe’ version of Chat GPT and will be trialled for 6 months in selected schools across the state. 

AI may also be able to carry more weight when applied to repetitive tasks such as marking. Assigning AI tools to complete multiple-choice grading and grammar checks, would free up crucial time for teachers and improve their efficiency. Imagine AI as a first-pass reviewer, highlighting areas for teacher attention and freeing up time for personalised feedback, critical thinking development, and engaging activities. This collaborative approach can streamline workflow while preserving the irreplaceable role of human judgment in assessment and student engagement.

Detecting AI-Generated Work – While an AI-generated essay might be technically proficient, true learning involves comprehension, critical thinking, and real-world application. Maintaining academic integrity and detecting AI-assisted work is crucial. A scoring system offers a more nuanced and potentially more flexible approach compared to simplistic “yes” or “no” classifications, allowing students to use AI for their work.

In the last 5 years, several schools have developed, in conjunction with an IT partner, advanced analytics to predict students’ year 11 & 12 final results (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank – ATAR). This is being done without the use of AI. These analytics combined with AI could be so much more powerful by providing education plans, (reviewed and delivered by the teacher) for students who are forecasted to fall below their desired ATAR to enter the course and university they have in mind.

Public AI models and organisation AI models explained

Chat GPT and Gemini (formerly known as Bard) are considered ‘public AI models’. Both models are trained on large datasets of publicly available text and code, including books, articles, websites, and code repositories. This helps them understand and generate text in diverse contexts. The models use their learned patterns and relationships to process prompts and generate responses, which aren’t manually reviewed or edited before delivery.

The model a school would use operates within a much more controlled and strategically planned environment  – the ‘organisation AI model’. A school’s data, and how it’s used, accessed, and protected, must be considered from the outset. Data privacy and security are paramount, especially when it comes to sensitive information like student data. This would form part of the school’s Digital Masterplan and outline your applications and data map. If you are an education facility wanting to progress in a strategic way to enhance learning experiences and outcomes and streamline and automate operational tasks, your first step should be to speak to one of our experts at Netstrategy.

IT & security considerations for AI in schools and other educational institutions

The future of education is undeniably interconnected with the rise of AI. While this transformative technology offers exciting possibilities, we must ensure its implementation is ethical, secure, and centred around human connection.

By prioritising comprehensive learning processes alongside the implementation of robust IT infrastructure, data privacy, and ethical considerations, schools can unlock the true potential of AI through personalised learning experiences, empowered educators, and engaged students thriving in a vibrant learning environment.

While AI is still evolving, smart planning can put you ahead of the curve. By taking steps now, you can ensure your systems and infrastructure are suitable to seamlessly integrate AI as you enhance your teaching and learning needs. Remember, this isn’t an overnight change, but a progressive journey towards a future of AI-powered education.

Get in contact with a NetStratgey expert today for your AI readiness Assessment.

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