The discussion of data collection and AI should begin in primary schools

The EDUCATE Ventures webinar has been informed that discussions about the ethical use of data collection and AI should begin in primary schools

The EDUCATE Ventures webinar has been informed that discussions sabout the ethical use of data collection and AI should begin in primary schools

Discussions about the responsible and ethical use of artificial intelligence and data collection should begin in schools with young children, an EDUCATE Ventures-hosted webinar has heard.

Participants attending the online event, which was part of a series of seven AI-readiness webinars aimed at educators and businesses, were told that children and young people needed to be aware of the information being collected about them and that “it will follow them around and be part of their history”.

Professor Rose Luckin, director of EDUCATE Ventures, hosted the event in discussion with Karine George, a former head teacher and educational consultant, who said she believed conversations around AI ethics should begin in schools, which now collect data and information about pupils ranging from their academic progress, to attendance in school and details of medical conditions and learning challenges.

“If you want to create good citizens of the future then what you need to do is not just to get consent from the parents [when collecting data about pupils] but talk to children about their consent,” Ms George said.

“They need to have a voice. Currently we do not give children the opportunity, or talk to them, about it in the right way. We have to build up the language and the picture around it, so that they understand what it means.

“This is what has frightened my generation. Mention GDPR in schools and everyone cringes. But if we start the conversations early then we can remove many of those anxieties.”

Ms George said children needed to be taught, and to understand, the ethics around AI and data collection which would allow teachers to “use it as part of our armoury to help with their learning”.

After the webinar, Ms George elaborated on how these lessons might look. She said discussions with children might include conversations, games and role play. For example, a teacher might get pupils to think of something that is really important to them, such as a favourite possession – like a soft toy or their bike – and then explain how they would feel about lending this to a friend.

“So, if another person borrows your favourite possession, they should tell you who they are, prove that they asked you for it and that you were happy to hand it over,” she said. “You might ask pupils to consider how long they would be happy for someone to keep it, and would they allow someone else to borrow it, in turn.

“If they wanted to complain about how the lending arrangements had worked out, you would discuss with them to whom would they turn and what questions they would need to ask.”

Professor Luckin said that there was so much data now collected and stored about children in school that “it is important they understand what that means in terms of how it is processed and used for their benefit”. This meant disseminating information about the benefits of responsible AI so that people did not miss out on the benefits of its use in the teaching and learning process.

She said the worldwide teacher shortage could be alleviated by AI “being a teacher’s assistant”, so it was important that fears around the use of the technology did not overwhelm the many advantages that could be gained from its use.

Further information about EDUCATE Ventures’ webinar series on AI readiness, including links to individual events, can be found 

Originally posted on the EDUCATE Medium blog here.

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