George Lucas Educational Foundation
Technology Integration

5 Strategies for Supporting AI Adoption

School leaders can help educators see the benefits of using AI tools by offering informative resources and hands-on training.

April 24, 2024
SDI Productions / iStock

In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) has become increasingly prominent in discussions about how it may shape the future of learning. In fact, I can’t think of a single conversation I’ve had recently where AI has not been a talking point. While many classrooms, schools, and districts may be eager to harness the potential benefits of AI, there exists a significant segment of folks who remain hesitant or reluctant to explore this technology and have valid concerns. Understanding and addressing the concerns of reluctant adopters is crucial to understanding AI adoption and how it can be used in various roles, as well as how you as a school leader can support them as they explore this technology.

Understanding Reluctance Toward AI Adoption

I work with educators who are in various stages of AI exploration. Some have gone headfirst into exploring different platforms and strategies, others have very limited understanding of AI, and others don’t want to work with it at all until more clear guardrails and guidelines come out from their workplaces. Regardless of where anyone is in their journey to understanding this tool, there are some legitimate challenges with implementing artificial intelligence in the classroom, and these are often voiced by both early and new adopters.

For example, when I speak with educators and school leaders, there are many questions about the role of AI in the classroom and in the school—particularly data privacy permissions; collection of student data; and the ethics of using AI for activities, research, and assignments. 

Some educators also may not have adequate training or experience with AI technology, which causes uncertainty about effective integration into their teaching practices. Additionally, some educators may simply think that AI isn’t appropriate for their students, especially when it comes to critical skills such as writing, reading comprehension, and planning. This is especially true for pre-K through fifth grade, where these foundational skills are being built up. 

As with any technology tool or resource, there needs to be proper planning and implementation of a given AI tool in order for an educator to consider the lesson or activity to be a success. With so many new AI tools and technologies coming out, it may be confusing for some educators to decide which ones may be helpful for them. Confusion can sometimes lead to hesitation when it comes to implementation.

I think the best way to address these concerns is to find solutions that not only honor educators’ concerns, but also help them discover ways that AI may enhance their work. This isn’t to say that all educators will gravitate toward using AI, but it’s important to support them in their journey—regardless of what stage they’re in.

How to Encourage and Support AI Adoption

Try out these approaches on your campus, whether you’re at an elementary, middle, or high school.

1. Consider creating an AI awareness campaign. It’s important for faculty and staff to know the available and vetted AI resources allowed within their roles. Depending on whether your school or district has guidelines (or if your state has guidelines), make sure that faculty and staff know what’s available to them and how they can use AI.

If you’re in a school, district, or state that doesn’t have guidelines yet, consider referencing areas that have already created guidelines as a blueprint. And if you’re in a school, district, or state that’s discouraging AI, try to become involved in discussions around AI usage and guidelines in your area.

2. Whenever possible, provide accessible, engaging resources to demystify AI. In the United States, I point people to the Office of Educational Technology’s guidelines for AI implementation as a good first step—they’ve got fantastic resources surrounding AI implementation and current best practices. However, remember to also do your own research to determine the resources that best support your faculty and staff. I look for resources that highlight the capabilities of AI in education, as well as give a brief history of AI that helps faculty and staff understand that AI has actually been around since 1956 (1957 is when the phrase artificial intelligence was coined). Foundational resources will help people identify ways that they could potentially use AI in their roles.

3. Offer professional development programs to upskill employees in AI technologies. You can also share quick tips in faculty newsletters and PLC meetings. If you are a teacher interested in AI technologies, reach out to professional associations, educational conferences, or local educational institutions to inquire about potential training opportunities on AI. If you are a school leader, try to attend conferences, workshops, or seminars that focus on AI, and network with colleagues to gather information about relevant training programs. Several apply to K–12. Some programs are online, such as Coursera and EdX, while others may be in person. You can also seek recommendations from colleagues or professional networks—sometimes we receive great recommendations from others.

4. Implement pilot projects to demonstrate the tangible benefits of AI for educators and students. If you have a group of educators from a particular grade level or a classroom educator who is interested in using AI in the classroom, consider implementing an AI pilot project. Choose a specific use case or problem that AI can help address within the school environment, such as suggesting personalized learning recommendations for students (speech-to-text features and live captions during learning) or automating administrative tasks for teachers (streamlining lesson planning outlines or creating professional learning community agendas).

5. Showcase success stories from early adopters within the school. Last but certainly not least, when something impactful or innovative is done by using AI, be sure to celebrate it! Be sure to recognize faculty and staff who are doing innovative things with technology in the classroom and beyond (during meetings and curriculum events). Even a simple shout-out or recognition in a newsletter can go a long way and spark conversation among colleagues about what they’re doing in their own work.

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