The Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) this week released a new report that summarizes the opportunities and risks for AI in teaching, learning, research, and assessment based on public input.

The report – titled “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Future of Teaching and Learning: Insights and Recommendations” – is the first ever out of a Federal office on this topic and is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing effort to advance a cohesive and comprehensive approach to AI-related opportunities and risks.

The 71-page report addresses the clear need for sharing knowledge, engaging educators and communities, and refining technology plans and policies for AI use in education.

It recognizes AI as a rapidly advancing set of technologies that can enable new forms of interaction between educators and students, help educators address variability in learning, increase feedback loops, enhance student adaptivity, and support educators.

However, it also outlines risks associated with AI – including algorithmic bias – and the importance of trust, safety, and appropriate guardrails to protect educators and students.

The report recommends seven actions that the Education Department continue to collaborate and work on with states, institutions of higher education, school districts, and other partners:

  • Emphasize humans-in-the-loop;
  • Align AI models to a shared vision for education;
  • Design AI using modern learning principles;
  • Prioritize strengthening trust;
  • Inform and involve educators;
  • Focus R&D on addressing context and enhancing trust and safety; and
  • Develop education-specific guidelines and guardrails.

To gather information and formulate insights, OET partnered with Digital Promise, a global nonprofit that works to expand opportunities for every learner. Over 700 educational stakeholders participated in a series of four public listening sessions in the summer of 2022.

Stakeholders described promising opportunities they see for AI in education and discussed risks – especially risks of algorithmic bias – and called for stronger educational technology guidance.

Last month, OET Deputy Director Kristina Ishmael teased the new report, saying that her office is thinking about AI in positive ways, including how educators can leverage the different tools to help make their everyday tasks easier, which in turn allows them to focus more on the students’ classroom experience.

“I’m thinking about the burden on teachers right now,” Ishmael said. “One way that we are thinking about [AI] in particular is reducing” the burden of routine tasks for teachers, she said.

“Instead of me coming in and taking attendance every morning and doing lunch count, that we would be able to use these technologies and do it for us,” she explained. “That frees us up to provide those more experiential learning experiences for students and more tailored, customized learning experiences for students.”

Along with the Education Department’s new AI report, the Biden administration also announced sweeping new efforts that aim to advance the research, development, and deployment of responsible AI – including a national AI R&D Strategic Plan and a forthcoming National AI Strategy both from the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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