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5 questions schools and universities should ask before purchasing AI technology products

Every few years a brand new technology appears on the doorsteps of faculties and universities promising to remodel education. The latest? Technologies and apps that include or are based on generative artificial intelligence, also often known as GenAI.

These technologies are sold based on their potential for education. For example, the founding father of Khan Academy opened his 2023 Ted Talk by arguing, “We are on the verge of harnessing AI for perhaps the best positive transformation education has ever seen.”

“How AI could save (not destroy) education”

As optimistic as these visions of the longer term could also be, the fact of educational technology in recent many years has not lived as much as its promise. Rigorous examinations of 1 technology at a time – from mechanical machines To computersout of mobile devices To massive open online courses or MOOCs – have noted the continued failures of technology to remodel education.

Still, educational technology evangelists forgotten, remaining unconscious or just not caring about it. Or they’re too optimistic that the following recent technology shall be different than before.

As vendors and startups pitch their AI-powered products to varsities and universities, educators, administrators, parents, taxpayers, and others should ask questions informed by prior evidence before making purchasing decisions.

As a long-time researcher who investigates New technology in educationHere are five questions I feel must be answered before school officials purchase AI-based technologies, apps, or platforms.

1. What educational problem does the product solve?

One of an important questions educators should ask is whether or not technology is making an actual difference within the lives of scholars and teachers. Is the technology an answer to a selected problem or is it an answer searching for an issue?

To make this concrete, consider the next: Imagine purchasing a product that uses GenAI to reply course-related questions. Does this product meet a recognized need or is it being introduced into the environment just because it could possibly now perform that function? To answer such questions, schools and universities should conduct Needs analyseswhich may help them discover their most pressing concerns.

2. Is there evidence that a product works?

There continues to be no convincing evidence of the impact of GenAI products on educational outcomes. That results in some researchers to encourage education policymakers to delay purchasing products until such evidence is on the market. Others suggest What matters is whether or not the design of the product relies on basic research.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a central source of product information and reviews, so the responsibility for product review lies with the buyer. My advice is to think about a pre-GenAI advice: ask vendors to offer independent and third-party studies on their products, but Use multiple methods to evaluate the effectiveness of a product. This includes reports from colleagues and first evidence.

Don’t accept reports that describe the potential advantages of GenAI – what you actually need is what actually happens when the precise app or tool is utilized by teachers and students in the sector. Be looking out for unfounded allegations.

3. Did educators and students help develop the product?

Often there may be a “Gap between what entrepreneurs are constructing and what educators need.” This results in products which might be disconnected from the fact of teaching and learning.

For example, a shortcoming One laptop per child program – an ambitious program that aimed to place small, low-cost but sturdy laptops within the hands of youngsters from lower-income families – is that the laptops were designed for that idealized younger versions of the developers themselvesnot a lot the youngsters who actually used them.

Recognizing this gap, some researchers have developed initiatives involving entrepreneurs and educators work together To Improving educational technology products.

Some products were developed with the participation of scholars and teachers.

Questions to ask providers might include: How have educators and learners been involved? What impact did their input have on the ultimate product? What were their biggest concerns and the way were those concerns addressed? Were they representative of the varied groups of scholars who might use these tools, including by way of age, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background?

4. What educational beliefs shape this product?

Educational technology is rarely neutral. It is designed by people, and other people have beliefs, experiences, ideologies and biases that shape the technologies they develop.

It is essential for educational technology products to do that Support the forms of learning environments educators strive for for his or her students. Questions to ask include: What pedagogical principles guide this product? What particular forms of learning does this support or discourage? You don't should be satisfied with generalities reminiscent of a theory of learning or epistemology.

5. Does the product level the playing field?

Finally, one should ask how a product eliminates educational inequalities. Will this technology help reduce learning gaps between different learning groups? Or does it help some learners? often those that are already successful or privileged – but not others? Does it take an asset-based or deficit-based approach to addressing inequalities?

Education technology vendors and startups may not have answers to all of those questions. But they need to still be asked and brought into consideration. Answers may lead to improved products.


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