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AI Integration in Education: A joint study with the University of Jyväskylä

In a collaborative research endeavor, the University of Jyväskylä and the Swiss Cyber Institute joined forces to investigate the complex landscape of AI integration in education. This collaborative effort aimed to understand educators’ perspectives on the adoption of AI tools in teaching practices, focusing on both the opportunities and challenges inherent in this evolving domain.

In recent years, educators have faced challenges in keeping pace with the rapid emergence of new technologies and tools in the field of education. This is particularly evident with advancements in AI, which require time for educators to learn and effectively integrate into their teaching practices. AI applications have shown potential in personalizing learning experiences, engaging students, and improving learning outcomes. Given their pivotal role in the learning process, educators play a crucial part in the implementation of AI tools in educational settings. However, previous research has predominantly focused on understanding teachers’ perspectives on specific AI tools, overlooking broader motivations, skills, and concerns. Our study aimed to address this gap by identifying educators’ key ethical concerns and exploring the skills they deem necessary for the effective incorporation of AI tools into their teaching methods.

Drawing on insights from 48 educators spanning 32 countries, the study employed a comprehensive survey methodology shared across diverse teacher communities on social media platforms. The respondents, representing a spectrum of teaching backgrounds and experiences, provided valuable perspectives on their familiarity with AI concepts, utilization of AI tools, and interest in AI-related training. The survey respondents exhibited varying levels of teaching experience, with the majority (78.3%) boasting over 10 years of teaching practice. Nearly all participants (92%) demonstrated familiarity with AI in education. Additionally, 85% of educators reported personal usage of AI tools or applications in their teaching activities. The participants hailed from diverse teaching backgrounds, encompassing a wide range of subjects such as science, language, technology education, social studies, computer studies, mathematics, and literature.

In the initial phase of the survey, educators provided detailed insights into the AI tools they utilize and the motivating factors behind their adoption. Mentioned tools include ChatGPT, AIforslides, Canva, Huggingface, Curipod, and Grammarly. A significant majority, 90% of participants, expressed keen interest in receiving training or professional development related to AI tools in education. Conversely, 10% indicated uncertainty or potential consideration, with none expressing disinterest. The survey responses regarding preferred AI skill topics revealed diverse interests among educators. They expressed enthusiasm for practical applications of AI, such as language teaching and integration into science curricula for enriched learning experiences. Additionally, educators sought to understand the functionalities of AI tools, emphasizing their utility in both humanistic and scientific domains.

Beyond practical applications, educators displayed interest in the broader context of AI in education. Some highlighted the importance of inclusive teaching practices and the potential of AI to enhance accessibility in education. Furthermore, educators demonstrated a practical outlook, expressing interest in topics like lesson preparation, student engagement, and prompt engineering. This suggests a desire for hands-on knowledge and strategies for integrating AI into daily teaching practices. Educators also expressed interest in promoting student-AI interaction within the classroom, recognizing AI as a tool for formative evaluation and engagement.

The survey also highlighted significant ethical concerns regarding AI integration in education. Approximately 70% of respondents expressed clear apprehensions about the ethical implications of AI usage, with 20% indicating uncertainty. In contrast, 20% explicitly stated no concerns. Major worries included the perceived lack of control over AI decisions, with 19 teachers sharing this concern. Bias in AI algorithms was highlighted by 18 educators, expressing fear of potential biases impacting educational outcomes. Additionally, 11 teachers underscored the importance of understanding AI decision-making processes, expressing reservations about their interpretability. The exclusion of practitioner expertise emerged as a significant concern for 16 respondents, indicating worries about sidelining valuable insights and experiences of educators. Other concerns raised by participants included worries about the accuracy of AI tools, student access, lack of experience in using AI, privacy concerns, potential loss of original thought, societal division, and overlooking learning aspects like autonomy and socialization.

As a collaborative effort between the University of Jyväskylä and the Swiss Cyber Institute, the study advocates for a holistic approach to AI integration in education, emphasizing the importance of foundational AI literacy skills and ethical considerations. By equipping educators with the requisite knowledge and competencies, education stakeholders can navigate the complexities of AI integration responsibly while leveraging its transformative potential to enrich teaching and learning experiences.

Looking ahead, this research marks the first of many collaborative endeavors between the University of Jyväskylä and the Swiss Cyber Institute. Future research initiatives will focus on exploring AI in education, AI fairness, and the adoption of AI topics. Notably, the second paper titled “Ethical Educational Data Processing Differences of Students with Special Needs in Post-Soviet Countries” is scheduled for presentation later this year in July at the Educational Data Mining conference in Atlanta, USA. These ongoing efforts underscore the commitment of both institutions to advancing knowledge and understanding in the field of AI integration in education, with a keen focus on ethical considerations and inclusive practices.