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Six ways FE colleges can help learners and teachers thrive in an AI-enabled world

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A new set of guiding principles from Jisc and AoC makes it easier for FE colleges to use AI safely, responsibly and effectively 

As AI accelerates its transformation of education, the workplace and society in general, it’s increasingly clear that the choice is no longer whether to use it, but when. And, more importantly, how.

To make things easier for FE colleges, Jisc and the Association of Colleges Technology Reference Group have created six guiding principles that will help them maximise the opportunities that AI tools offer for positive change.

The six principles from Jisc and AoC to use AI safely are:

1. Colleges will place safe, ethical and responsible use of AI at the forefront of considerations.

2. Colleges will support learners to develop the skills they need to make appropriate use of AI tools in their studies and thrive in an AI enabled workplace and wider world.

3. Colleges will ensure staff have the skills to maximise the value of AI, to help reduce workload and support effective learning and teaching

4. Colleges will aim to ensure all learners have access to AI tools that they need.

5. Colleges will ensure academic integrity is maintained, whilst allowing learners to develop the skills they need.

6. Colleges will work collaboratively and share best practice.

“The momentum of AI and its impact on education are only set to increase,” says Michael Webb, director of technology and analytics at Jisc. “The pressing need right now is to make it easier for FE colleges to adopt the technology in a way that best suits their individual needs, at a pace and cost that match their capabilities.

This new set of guiding principles, with safety for learners and teachers at its core, enables colleges to take full advantage of AI in their daily activities. Shared across the sector, it provides a framework for building an AI adoption strategy and helps to ensure equality of opportunity for all, regardless of location.

Centred around the fair and responsible use of AI, the principles are designed to support sector-wide and college-specific change: they also form a basis for identifying more specific ways in which individual colleges can use AI tools to benefit their own staff and learners.  

“Reports by Jisc and the Department for Education show that the initial promise of AI to help staff save time is being borne out in practice,” says Michael Webb. “We are already seeing examples of how AI can present new learning and teaching opportunities – but the sector needs to work collaboratively in order to realise these benefits.  

“The size and speed of the changes ahead means we will be stronger if we work together, guided by a shared set of principles.”

Matt Rhodes, Senior Policy Manager, AoC, said:

“These principles provide an essential framework that empowers colleges to harness the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in enhancing educational outcomes effectively and responsibly.

“The guidelines address the key areas necessary for the integration and ethical use of AI in further education. By emphasising the development of AI skills and literacy among learners and staff, the document ensures that colleges remain at the forefront of technological advancements, preparing students for an AI-enabled workplace and equipping staff with the necessary tools to enhance learning experiences and reduce workload.

“The document’s commitment to safety, transparency, fairness, and accountability in AI usage aligns with our shared vision for a sector that prioritises ethical considerations and the wellbeing of all stakeholders. Ensuring equal access to AI tools and maintaining academic integrity are crucial aspects that these guidelines effectively tackle, promoting an inclusive and fair educational environment.

“The collaborative approach encouraged by the guidelines is positive. By fostering a culture of sharing best practices and learning from various sectors, colleges can collectively navigate the evolving landscape of AI, benefiting from collective insights and innovations.

“This is a vital resource that aligns with the sector’s needs, offering a clear and actionable roadmap for colleges to leverage AI’s potential while upholding the highest ethical standards.”

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