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Getting Started with AI in Your Organization

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Maybe you’ve been lurking, reading a few things about artificial intelligence here in there or even trying out ChatGPT for yourself. Maybe you’ve talked to a colleague who has been thinking about implementing AI and is developing a plan. Maybe you’ve already started with your leadership team, and you’re just not sure where to start. Well, the time is now!

While there is truth in the saying “action leads to clarity,” not all action is created equal. In order to set yourself up for success, here are five key action steps to get you started on your journey:

1. Establish a guiding document

It’s important to have all stakeholders on the same page regarding AI usage at your organization – faculty, staff, students, parents – and that means clarity regarding everything from the goals and purpose down to the logical and technical. I have written previously about ethical questions to consider regarding integration of AI into your organization as well as about drafting or evaluating your educational philosophy to be inclusive of AI technologies. Both of the pieces should be included in a guiding document as well as other pieces relevant to your specific organization that pertains to general usage. This guiding document should be drafted in collaboration with various representatives, and there should be a shared understanding amongst everyone as to what the different parts mean so that it can be meant to guide practice and decisions. Additionally, this guiding document should be iterative – as the technology shifts, and you learn more about how it can and should be used, you should regularly update this document in reflection.

2. Create a culture of inquiry

Embracing AI into any organization represents a shift away from how things have been done, which can be both exciting and scary, so a safe space is essential to the success of any new initiative – AI-related or otherwise. With AI, the best way to learn is to experiment; some things will work and others won’t, and that needs to be okay for everyone involved. Try establishing a protocol for debrief and learning from “mistakes.” Collaborate with industry to see real world examples of learning (errors and all) and real-world examples of AI in action. Leaders can model risk taking for their staff. Teachers can model risk taking for their students. Parents can support at home through consistent messaging about what learning looks like. You're all in this together!

3. Develop a framework of support and professional development

Ongoing, consistent professional development is important for professional growth in any area, especially something as constantly-evolving and paradigm-shifting as AI, so it’s important to develop and implement a framework of support and ongoing learning. This will look different for each organization as the professionals involved have different needs, and your goals for them are different, but those involved will need the space to learn and experiment with the technology, customize the tools, and consider how to use them in their environments. Coaching, cohorts, collaborative work time, observations, and just time to play can all be valuable methods, as long as they are aligned with your desired outcomes.

4. Maintain balance and focus on goals

While the use of AI in education is new and exciting and definitely something all educational leaders should be considering, it’s equally important to be intentional about focusing on your goals and ensuring your are using those goals to drive the use of AI. Additionally, balance is essential, ensuring human interaction and an ongoing focus on social emotional learning. AI doesn’t replace good teachers or good pedagogy; it’s a tool good teachers can use for efficiency and effectiveness. While it’s great to embrace the benefits AI can have for education, it’s also important to understand the limitations.

5. Connect with others

Delving into AI can be overwhelming, but it’s less-so when you don’t do it alone. There have been some amazingly supportive groups formed on social media, for example, of teachers sharing their learnings and offering to help others or administrators brainstorming together on how to approach different issues that have arisen. While it is sometimes challenging to sift through everything that is out there in order to determine what you can trust, there is a plethora of free resources on using AI in education (webinars, podcasts, blogs) that can help you stay up to stay up-to-date and connected as the field learns together. Find what works for you, and get connected!

Something important to keep in mind while you get started is that we’re all new at this. No one has the whole “AI thing” figured out, and, even if they did, it would change tomorrow or next week or next month when the next version comes out. What’s most important at this stage is to be setting the foundation through a guiding document and aligned systems. And the rest we can figure out together!

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