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AACTE Members Discuss Advancements in AI and Ed Prep

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have opened up a world of possibilities in various fields, including education. On May 23, AACTE’s Committee on Innovation & Technology hosted the webinar, “An Introduction to Using AI Tools in Educator Preparation Programs,” that explored the fundamentals of generative AI and its potential to revolutionize learning. The speaker panel was moderated by the committee’s co-chair, Rachel Karchmer-Klein. Panelists included Punya Mishra (Arizona State University), Eleazar Vasquez III (University of Central Florida), and Marie Heath (Loyola University), who discussed the ethical considerations, personalized learning, and the transformative impact of AI in education.

Generative AI, as explained by Mishra, involves the use of machine learning algorithms to generate new content in various formats. However, the complex nature of these AI systems means even their creators cannot fully understand how they work. He stressed the importance of recognizing generative AI as a social technology and setting clear boundaries to ensure responsible implementation.

Three key points emerged from the discussion:

  • Firstly, it is crucial to establish limitations for social technologies like generative AI.
  • Secondly, there is a need to address biases present in large language models to promote inclusivity and diversity.
  • Lastly, generative AI offers exciting possibilities for qualitative research, learning enhancement, and low-code or no-code programming, making it accessible to a broader range of learners.

Vasquez highlighted the potential of AI to enable personalized learning for all students, leveraging personal data to promote equity. He also emphasized the role of AI in providing tailored support and advising in higher education. Vasquez urged educators to actively participate in discussions and contribute their expertise to shape the implementation of AI, emphasizing that their insights on diversity, equity, inclusion, and learning theory are invaluable.

Heath, a techno skeptic, raised important questions about bias and critical thinking in generative AI. She urged participants to consider the sacrifices made for AI’s benefits, assess who is harmed and who benefits, understand the values and limitations embedded in AI systems, examine unintended consequences, and critically reflect on our dependence on AI.

In closing, participants shared their experiences of using AI in education, such as writing assistance and generating decodable texts. However, they acknowledged the need for critical thinking skills and AI literacy among educators, which should be integrated into teacher education programs. By fostering critical thinking and ethical awareness, educators can harness the potential of generative AI to create equitable and inclusive learning environments.

The panel discussion on generative AI provided valuable insights into its potential and challenges in education. By addressing ethical concerns, promoting personalized learning, and fostering critical thinking, educators can navigate the complexities of AI and ensure responsible and inclusive implementation in educational settings.

View the AACTE members-only webinar, “An Introduction to Using AI Tools in Educator Preparation Programs,” and to access session resources. To access other on-demand AACTE webinars, visit aacte.org.

AACTE members who are interested in staying up to date on the newest technological trends in education preparation are encouraged to join the Technology in Ed Prep Community in  Connect360. The goal of this community is to share information, resources, and experience while networking and building community. Log in using your aacte.org username/password, search for the community, and click “Join.”​

Guy Trainin, Ph.D., is a professor of education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is also a member of AACTE’s Committee on Innovation & Technology.

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Guy Trainin

University of Nebraska-Lincoln