When Artificial Intelligence (AI) sets foot in schools, what questions should educators ask?

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“Let me introduce our new TA, Alexa!” This may be a plot in a science fiction movie, but that day may soon come true in school. Recently, “the toy-giant Mattel announced it had pulled the plug on plans to sell an interactive gadget for children” (NPR). The device, named Aristotle, looked similar to a baby monitor with a camera, but could “displace essential parenting functions, like soothing a crying baby or reading a bedtime story.” Aristotle, powered by artificial intelligence, can collect large-scale data about a child’s behavior by tracking and surveillance and then through computation, interact with the child.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are two very hot buzzwords right now. AI is a broader concept about machines being able to carry out tasks in a smart way (Forbes). ML refers to some specific application of AI, namely, feeding machines with data and let machines learn for themselves. The life of AI and ML depends on ubiquity and big data.

What questions should educators ask before AI and ML creep into classrooms?

Increasing the collection and computing of big data in children’s lives is the trend of AI and ML, but it challenges educators. The 2018 Interaction Design and Children Conference (IDC) discussed at least four areas where scientists and educators should consider using the ubiquity of technologies and big data to benefit children. The identified areas include:

Control and ownership –

  • To what degree can and should students and parents control data about them?
  • Are control, ownership, and data privacy transparent and easy to understand for all stakeholders (i.e., students, parents, teachers and school administrative staff)?

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