Why parents know little about AI and how their schools are using it

Some 40% of parents hardly know anything about artificial intelligence and 60% have no idea how it can be used in an educational setting. Here's where they need help from leaders and educators.

It’s been nearly one year since ChatGPT, the artificially intelligent generative AI chatbot, took the education sector by storm prompting concern among educators and K12 leaders about academic dishonesty and plagiarism. Yet it’s become one of the most exciting and sought-after edtech tools among teachers and edtech providers alike. However, one group crucial to the academic success of students has yet to get on board: parents.

According to new polling data from the National Parents Union, K12 parents believe there’s potential for AI to advance their child’s learning as it can create tailored experiences that meet each student’s individual needs. Unfortunately, they know too little about the technology and could use your help.

Just 41% of parents say they know “a little general information” about AI, and one in 10 say they know nothing about it. Furthermore, more than 60% know little to nothing about how it can be used properly in an educational setting.

But one of the more intriguing findings sheds light on how parents perceive the potential benefit of AI. A large number of parents see equal parts upsides and downsides to leveraging AI in education, although they didn’t cite their specific concerns. When asked how AI could be used in public education, parents believe:

  • The potential benefits outweigh the potential downsides: 23%
  • There are about equal potential benefits and downsides: 44%
  • The potential downsides outweigh the potential benefits: 16%
  • Unsure: 17%

For those of you who are leveraging AI in the classroom—or wish to—these findings may suggest a need to communicate with parents how the technology can enhance their child’s academic performance.

More from DA: Too much information? Impossible, one superintendent says of school communications

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, parents outlined how they believe AI can best serve their children throughout their K12 educational experience. Unsurprisingly, AI for tutoring help topped their list of benefits.

The researchers asked parents to indicate how AI would impact their children when used for various purposes. Here’s what they said:

  • AI-driven online tutoring from time to time: 56% cited “very”/”some” positive impact
  • AI-driven online tutoring for regularly scheduled tutoring multiple times per week: 52% cited “very”/”some” positive impact
  • Using AI to gain feedback on homework before turning it in: 53% cited “very”/”some” positive impact
  • Teachers using AI to generate worksheets and assignments: 52% cited “very”/”some” positive impact
  • Teachers using AI to customize and create lesson plans based on individual students’ needs: 52% cited “very”/”some” positive impact
  • Schools using AI to analyze student performance data: 50% cited “very”/”some” positive impact
  • Using AI for entertainment: 45%  cited “very”/”some” positive impact
  • Teachers using AI to help with grading: 46% cited “very”/”some” positive impact
  • Using AI to write essays: 36% cited “very”/”some” positive impact
Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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