The Department of Education is concerned that artificial intelligence systems could be used to survey teachers once the systems are introduced into the classroom and warns in a new report that allowing that to happen that would make teachers’ jobs “virtually impossible.”
The department released a report this week on “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning,” which also argues that AI should not be used to replace human teachers.
The report aims to examine the prospects of expanding AI into the classroom. While it says that AI can make teaching more efficient and help tailor lesson plans to individual students, it warns that AI could also expose teachers to increased surveillance once be deployed.
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“If we can have a voice assistant in the kitchen, it could help us with simple household tasks like setting a cooking timer,” the report said. “And yet that same voice assistant might be hearing things that we intended to be private. This kind of problem happens in classrooms and for teachers.”
The report envisions the possibility of AI being used in live classroom settings to obtain data that can help teachers do their jobs, such as recommending certain resources based on the topics being taught, but that carries more risk for teachers.
“The same data can also be used to monitor the teacher, and that monitoring can have consequences for the teacher,” it said. “Achieving reliable AI that makes teachers’ jobs better is nearly impossible if teachers experience increased surveillance.”
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The department concluded that if AI is being considered for use in the classroom, efforts should be made to ensure “adequate” safeguards against teacher surveillance. Other questions that need to be asked are whether AI eases the burden of teaching, whether teachers have control over AI-enabled tools, and how AI can be used to “enhance equity, reduce bias , and increasing cultural awareness.”
The Biden administration’s push for AI systems that avoid teacher surveillance has the potential to reignite the political battle over how much authority teachers have over students, and what rights parents should know. what is taught. Last week, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona tweeted that “teachers know what is best for their children,” and “we must trust teachers,” which led to the complaints from prominent Republicans that parents should have significant input into school curriculum.
The administration also came under attack from Republicans and parent groups after the Department of Justice released a memo in 2021 urging officials to investigate threats of violence against local school administrators and teachers. The memo came after the National School Boards Association urged the administration to consider these threats as a form of “domestic terrorism.”
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The group later apologized for using that term, but Republicans accused the Biden administration of siding with teachers and working against parents who seek information about what their children are learning and don’t always get answers. .
The Department of Education report also emphasized several times that AI will never replace human teachers.
“Some teachers are concerned that they could be replaced – on the contrary, the Department strongly rejects the idea that AI could replace teachers,” it said. “At no point do we want to imply that AI can replace a teacher, a guardian, or an educational leader as the caretaker of their students’ learning.”
The report recommends that as AI becomes part of the classroom, policymakers should work to “constantly center educators (ACE).”
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“Practically speaking, practicing ‘ACE in AI’ means keeping a human perspective front and center in teaching,” it said. “ACE leads the Department to confidently answer ‘no’ when asked ‘will AI replace teachers?'”