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  • What is a comprehensive definition of artificial intelligence (AI) as it pertains to K-12 education?
    AI is a fascinating field that simply involves creating computer systems that typically require human intelligence. It’s like giving machines the ability to think, learn, and make decisions just like we as humans do. In the past, we mostly thought of AI systems in the physical sense where we automated rote tasks. One example of this is replacing manufacturing processes with robots or using Recently, most of the attention is on Cognitive AI systems, such as large language models. This form of AI simulates human thought. They work very similar to how our brains work. Just as I am speaking to you right now, I am predicting the best next word to say to get my point across. Cognitive AI and large language models work in a very similar fashion. Have you ever used an AI assistant like Siri to get the weather? When you speak to Siri, the AI uses Natural Language Understanding to understand what you are trying to accomplish and then it goes and retrieves the relevant information and presents it back to you. In K-12 education, this form of AI is relevant in a few areas. We can often illustrate this as a hierarchy of needs. The first need that we typically see is providing customer service at scale 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This is usually accomplished by utilizing an AI-powered bot to answer guardian or staff questions from a knowledge base. The second need that we tend to see is core attendance & enrollment. Are students enrolled and are they actually attending school? We leverage data and AI to identify those students who may be at risk or who show persistent patterns of absenteeism and then we use a form of human-enhanced AI to deliver the right message to the right guardian at the right time.
  • What specific AI capabilities are most valuable for K-12 schools, and how do they enhance teaching and learning experiences?
    In terms of teaching and learning, AI can assist teachers in a number of ways to enhance their teaching practices and improve student learning outcomes. One such example is virtual teaching assistants. AI-powered virtual assistants can support teachers by answering common student questions, providing explanations, and offering additional resources. These assistants can free up teachers’ time and provide immediate support to students, even outside of regular classroom hours.
  • What are the data sources and collection methods that AI systems in K-12 schools typically rely on?
    AI systems in K-12 typically rely on data sources such as: Learning management systems Surveys and questionnaires Curated knowledge base
  • How does AI in K-12 education ensure the privacy and security of student, teacher, and family data?
    To ensure the privacy and security of student, teacher, and family data, similar methods apply. Ensuring compliance with data protection regulations such as FERPA or COPPA. Anonymization and De-identification to remove personally identifiable information. Data encryption and secure storage. Restricted access and applying least privilege principles. And data segregation to prevent data from one district from accidentally leaking into another.
  • How does AI differ from traditional technology tools used in K-12 schools?
    In K-12 education, the distinction between one-way and two-way communication systems plays a vital role in facilitating effective information flow between schools, parents, and district communications leaders. One-way communication systems typically involve the dissemination of information from the district or school to the parents and stakeholders, such as through robocalls, newsletters, announcements, or website updates. These systems are useful for sharing important information, updates, and policies but often lack the opportunity for direct engagement or feedback. On the other hand, two-way communication systems foster interactive and collaborative exchanges between the district and parents, allowing for dialogue, questions, and feedback. This can be achieved through channels like parent-teacher conferences, online forums, and dedicated teacher-to-parent texting platforms. The inclusion of AI in district communication processes can greatly benefit communication leaders by streamlining information dissemination, automating routine answers to FAQs, and having millions of conversations in families’ language of choice at the same time. AI-powered chatbots, for instance, can provide instant responses to frequently asked questions, freeing up time for district leaders to focus on more complex inquiries. Additionally, AI analytics tools can help communication leaders gain insights from data gathered through various communication channels, enabling them to make data-driven decisions, enhance engagement, and improve overall communication strategies within the K-12 ecosystem.

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