Now more than ever, collaboration matters, because as Wang & Lester (2023) note, “unlike K-12 science and mathematics education, there is not currently a research foundation for K-12 AI education.” Our academic communities can develop a grassroots research foundation by pairing teachers to work together within academic disciplines, across disciplines, and most importantly, outside of our schools.
This fall, I had the pleasure of co-facilitating the Association for Academic Leaders course “Leading Your Team in Understanding Generative AI” with Sarah Hanawald. Two participants, both chairs of performing arts departments, expressed apprehension about how they would incorporate AI into their classes.
Their feelings were completely valid, especially given that both actors and writers were striking due in no small part to the threats AI posed to their livelihoods. However, after connecting with one another and hearing from other educators outside of their discipline, their attitudes shifted towards a place of curiosity, which allowed them to ask questions like “How might we incorporate generative AI tools into our classrooms?” Through the course they discovered tools they could use to help and I look forward to checking in with these teachers down the road to learn about what they have discovered in the intervening months.
As educators, we want our students to be discerning consumers of information. As a science teacher, I want my students to be scientifically literate. Now, we need to account as well for the budding realm of AI literacy, which “is the ability to readily engage with AI by leveraging AI tools, systems, and frameworks to effectively and ethically solve problems in a wide range of sociocultural contexts” (Wang & Lester, 2023). Just as elementary school teachers help their students develop literacy skills using the “I do, we do, you do” framework, Academic Leaders need to provide the same scaffolding for the faculty and staff in their schools.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to approach this challenge, consider these tips:
Lastly, perhaps the most important tip of all is to give yourself grace through this process, and recognize that this technology is both so new and developing so quickly that we are truly a community of learners together with our students. As educators, we have the opportunity to model this process of lifelong learning, not only for the development of meaningful learning experiences but for our own sanity as educators. Generative AI is going to fundamentally change the way schools operate and change is hard.
As adults, we don’t remember learning how to read. No doubt, it was frustrating and confusing and confusing at times, but we persevered. In the end, it gave us a whole new perspective on and ways to interact with our world. Generative AI has the power to do the same for us.
Wang, N., Lester, J. K-12 Education in the Age of AI: A Call to Action for K-12 AI Literacy. Int J Artif Intell Educ 33, 228–232 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40593-023-00358-x
ilana is teaching an additional offering of our highly-requested, members-only course Leading Your Team/Department in Understanding Generative AI beginning November 27. Leaders will learn strategies for teaching adults about generative AI and will be given guidelines for leading conversations about what teachers need to teach about generative AI.
Don't miss our weekly blog posts by joining our newsletter mailing list below:
Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)