By Guest Contributor Lisa Wolfe
Since its launch late last year, ChatGPT has been busy—passing medical exams, taking state bar exams, writing short stories—the list goes on and on. It has also been a writing assistant and idea generator for many in the business, consumer, and education worlds. The debate about its value versus danger, particularly for education, is the focus of extensive news coverage and even the federal government.
Yet, educators and parents have many of the same questions about ChatGPT and artificial intelligence (AI), in general, that they had for other new technologies over the years. Will relying on it for support result in students’ not developing their own writing and critical thinking skills? Will students use it to cheat?
One thing that most seem to agree about is that it is important to understand and manage the use of ChatGPT and many other current and emerging AI technologies so that they enhance student learning—and society—rather than harm them. In fact, at the recent ASU-GSV Summit, where AI was a hot topic, presenters in one session concluded that it will fundamentally change education.1
Yet, despite ChatGPT being a hot topic in the education world, there seems to be a gap between student and parent awareness and use of the technology. A recent poll from Common Sense Media revealed that only 30 percent of parents say that they have used ChatGPT compared to 58 percent of students ages 12–18. The survey also showed that while the majority of parents and teens are excited about the potential of AI-powered education tools, they have significant concerns, particularly about kids becoming too dependent on it. As a result, parents (61 percent) and students (51 percent) want schools to limit the use of AI programs, such as ChatGPT, until rules and safeguards can be put into place.2
When it comes to the integration of AI technology into education, the train left the station prior to the current excitement over ChatGPT. Many popular learning tools already use AI to personalize learning. And now K-12 and higher education companies are leveraging the newest generation of AI to enhance their learning tools while at the same time developing safeguards to help educators detect the use of AI when it is not appropriate.
You may be already marketing a program that uses AI or about to launch a new product with AI integration. To ensure success, it is important to help educators, parents, and students understand the benefits and the ways those offerings support learning as well as how your company guards against the risks they may be concerned about. Here are some ideas for successfully communicating the value of AI for education:
- Emphasize the ways your use of AI supports learning.
The Common Sense Media survey shows that parents and students want to understand how AI can be used in a positive way so demonstrating how it supports learning in your program is critical to its acceptance. For example, it might provide prompts to help a student when they are writing— supporting the development of a personal essay rather than writing it for them. Giving students real-time feedback and suggestions as they work is a level of personalization that can be impossible in a classroom where a teacher has 30+ students.
- Assure them that, as always, you protect student privacy and online safety.
We are all concerned about our online privacy these days, particularly for young users. With new technologies, such as AI, educators and parents can be confused about what kind of student information is being shared and with whom. Be explicit in your explanation of this and be sure to call out your compliance with federal student data privacy regulations.
In addition, the safety of kids is always an utmost concern of parents and educators. Be sure that your materials, including product marketing flyers, FAQs, and web copy, describe the ways that your application of AI keeps students safe from inappropriate interaction with the technology and with other users.
- Offer educators and parents opportunities to learn more about AI.
To navigate the new world of AI, it is critical for educators and parents to develop AI literacy—an understanding of how it works, its strengths and limitations, and its best classroom applications. Creating a short AI explainer video that describes how your application enhances student learning and how student privacy is protected might go a long way to alleviate parental apprehension. For teachers, a series of short asynchronous professional development workshops would equip them with the knowledge and vocabulary to successfully use AI in their classrooms as well as answer questions from parents and students.
Ready to launch a marketing campaign focused on your company’s innovative use of AI? MDR is here to help! Reach out to us today.
Lisa Wolfe is the president of L. Wolfe Communications. Founded in April 2000, L. Wolfe Communications offers its clients a network of senior, experienced public relations executives with a variety of complementary experience and expertise in public relations and communications for the education and library markets.