The Commission published ethical guidelines on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data in teaching and learning for teachers. The guidelines address how AI is used in schools, to support teachers and students in their teaching and learning, and to support administrative tasks in educational settings. The guidelines are part of the digital education action plan (2021-2027) and were developed by a dedicated Commission expert group bringing together a wide range of practitioners from the world of education and training, academia, private sector and international organisations.
Commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, Mariya Gabriel says: “Artificial intelligence has a great potential to transform education and training for students, teachers and school staff. It can help students with learning difficulties and support teachers through individualised learning. But the use of AI and data comes with privacy, security and safety risks, especially when it involves our young people. Therefore, I am pleased that these guidelines will help ensure that these risks are being considered and our children can be kept safe and protected.”
As AI systems constantly evolve and data usage proliferates, there is a need to develop a better understanding of their impact, including on education and training. The rapid increase in the use of AI requires that educators and students have a basic understanding of AI and data usage to be able to engage positively, critically and ethically with this technology and to exploit its full potential.
The guidelines will help teachers at primary and secondary levels of education, independently of their experience in digital education. The objective is to clarify popular and widespread misconceptions about AI that might cause confusion or anxiety over its use, especially in education. Ethical considerations and requirements are also addressed by offering practical advice to educators and school leaders on how to plan an effective use of AI and data in schools. For example, the guidelines advise on how to use technologies to adapt teaching to each learner’s ability or how to prepare individualised interventions for students with special needs. Finally, they are a solid basis to discuss emerging competences for an ethical use of AI and data among teachers and educators and suggest ways of raising awareness and engaging with the community.
Promoting excellence and trust in artificial intelligence is a key priority of the Commission, which, in April 2021, proposed the legal framework on AI (the AI Act). It follows a risk-based approach and requires , among others, strict obligations for AI systems used in educational or vocational training that may determine the access to education and professional course of someone’s life (e.g. the scoring of exams). Guidelines complement the work of the Commission on AI and its efforts to promote AI and data in education and training through its Erasmus+ programme, European solidarity corps and eTwinning.
The 2023 Erasmus+ annual work programme will provide funding for large-scale forward-looking projects with a digital priority. The Commission will also publish a series of articles on AI in education and deliver an online course for teachers on the topic on the European School Education platform (ESEP).
For years, the Commission has been facilitating and enhancing cooperation on AI across the EU to boost its competitiveness and ensure trust based on EU values. The Commission’s white paper on AI, published in 2020, set out a clear vision for AI in Europe: an ecosystem of excellence and trust, setting the scene for today’s proposal. In April 2021, the Commission put forward its proposal for an AI Act and a new coordinated plan with member states. The negotiations on the AI Act are still ongoing with the co-legislators.
The ethical guidelines on the use of artificial intelligence and data in teaching and learning for educators are an action of the digital education action plan 2021-2027 which was adopted on 30 September 2020. To support the development of the guidelines, the Commission launched an informal expert group on AI and data in education and training. The group performed its work between 8 July 2021 and 14 June 2022.
As part of its proposal to make 2023 the European year of skills, the Commission will promote lifelong learning through investment in training and upskilling. One of the objectives will also be to better match people’s aspirations and skill sets with opportunities on the job market, including for the digital transition.
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