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Developing K–12 AI Literacy for Your District

Artificial intelligence technology in schools is here to stay. Learn how to develop appropriate K–12 AI guidance for your district.

In 2024, generative artificial intelligence, often simply called AI, continues to carve out a permanent place within K–12 districts. Although it can enhance teaching and learning by facilitating innovative practices, AI tools alone have proven insufficient to improve learning outcomes. Many teachers and students have already begun to tap into the potential uses of K–12 AI, but widespread training and standards have yet to become the norm.

The question of AI within the classroom may seem entirely novel. However, district leaders have always led new technology integrations in schools. Each shift in advancement — from calculators to one-to-one devices — came with its own phase of experimentation. Now, it’s up to district leaders to help demystify AI for school community members and provide appropriate guidance for its use. The key to building a legacy of beneficial K–12 AI integration lies in developing dynamic acceptable use standards, boosting community familiarity of AI-based learning opportunities, and strengthening educator training.

Defining the Boundaries of K–12 AI Usage

Clearly defining appropriate AI usage is the first step to utilizing AI as a tool for good, rather than an insufficient replacement for pedagogy. Students and staff who aren’t given boundaries for appropriate use of AI may unknowingly engage in behaviors that violate data privacy policies, spread misinformation, or break academic integrity rules.

District leaders should gather best practices and expert opinions to inform their exploration of ethical K–12 AI use. Take the following steps to develop future-minded guidelines that uphold positive relationships with AI technology in schools:

  • Gather a working team of district members, and even third-party experts, to develop a shared vision for AI technology integration that includes goals and a plan for annual evaluation.
  • Create an AI acceptable use policy or guidelines, incorporating feedback from your AI working group to steer your district away from the potential pitfalls of AI such as bias or academic dishonesty.
  • Emphasize the balance of AI efficiencies and human decisions by providing examples of how AI may facilitate instructional support functions such as assessment and lesson planning.
Read about how one Michigan school district is embracing AI innovation in our 2024 Trends in K–12 Education report.

Preparing Students and Families for a Future with AI

Facilitating familiarity with AI among students, families, and community members offers a future-minded opportunity to help them prepare for new educational opportunities and career options that will rely on AI. In 2024, 89% of IT leaders believe that AI will soon play a prominent role in their organizations. Despite this growing ubiquity, less than 10% of district leaders are using AI technology systemically. Highlighting the potential benefits of AI is a vital step in managing the rapid development of this new technology.

Encouraging school leaders and educators to regularly integrate AI-based projects and conversations into curricular and community outreach strategies can normalize AI as a tool for learning and career readiness. Intentional AI exploration may also help close opportunity gaps by allowing all school community members to build their technology skills regardless of private access to technology. Consider the following takeaways to prepare your district community for greater exposure to AI:

  • Find ways to incorporate K–12 AI topics into existing initiatives such as expanded learning programs and district communications. For example, consider using AI to generate meeting summaries or create resources in multiple languages to model and share examples of appropriate AI use.
  • Host virtual and in-person conversations about AI with the school community to explore how this technology may prepare students for their future careers. Be prepared to speak on frequently asked questions or concerns such as issues of privacy or academic integrity.
  • Spotlight examples of successful applications of AI in teaching and learning throughout your district, as they become available and weave these use cases into family-school-community events and communications.
Learn more about effective ways to draw families and communities into district activities with our infographic, Engaging Families and Communities in K–12 Education.

Supporting Teachers in the Era of K–12 AI

96% of teachers report having received no official training on the use of AI in the classroom. Despite this gap in training, 65% of educators report using AI technology anyway. When it comes to integrating any new technology, district leaders should foster a culture of exploration and support for teachers and staff, so they feel empowered to ask questions, experiment, and incorporate new practices into their work.

Yet, integrating AI into teaching and instruction is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. That’s why it’s key to offer a variety of flexible professional learning resources for employees to become comfortable with the workings of AI, learn how they can use it in their daily practices, and guide students on appropriate use. Use these tips to support educators’ AI literacy:

  • Regularly survey educators to understand their evolving concerns and perceptions, and uses of AI in the classroom.
  • Plan ongoing embedded professional learning to train teachers and staff on new AI technology tools, integration best practices, and student engagement methods.
  • Empower teachers to use AI to assist with their instructional planning tasks as a time and energy saver, while emphasizing the need to review and critically evaluate all AI-generated content.
Overcome common districtwide professional development hurdles with our infographic, Solving K–12 Professional Learning Challenges.

 

Despite widespread usage of AI in K–12 education, only 7 U.S. states have issued official AI guidance for schools, as of April 2024. However, it’s clear that ignoring or banning generative AI in a district may worsen existing challenges. Instead, district leaders can and should lead the way by guiding school communities to safer and appropriate uses of AI with clear standards, conversations about AI literacy and digital citizenship, and technology-focused professional learning.

AI Best Practices in K-12 Education

Learn how to establish appropriate and effective AI guidelines in your district.
Districts need to develop artificial intelligence guidance. Use this infographic for the latest AI best practices for integrating K-12 AI technology .
Learn how to utilize K–12 AI responsibly.

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