AI4T - Artificial Intelligence for and by teachers
Implementing innovative methods to train teachers in the use of artificial intelligence resources in education.
The AI4T project - "Artificial Intelligence for and by teachers" - is a three-year experimental project that aims to explore and support the use of artificial intelligence in education by implementing a professional training pathway in 5 European countries. AI4T implements innovative teacher training methods, including a MOOC, a TextBook and hybrid training sessions specifically designed to meet the challenges of AI in education. Coordinated by France Education International, the project brings together 5 ministries of education in Europe, as well as public bodies, research centres and private universities in France, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg and Slovenia.
The partnership has designed a comprehensive bottom-up training pathway, allowing teachers to participate in its design and evaluation. The assumption behind AI4T is that tailored training can help teachers to deconstruct their preconceptions, develop their knowledge and encourage informed use of AI in an educational setting.
For the purposes of the experiment, the project is specifically aimed at teachers of 14–17-year-old with expertise in foreign languages, mathematics or science and, to a lesser extent, school headmasters in a management role. The training developed, which has met with great success, is intended to be used on a wider scale (in other European countries, at all school levels and for all teachers, whatever the subject taught).
In terms of evaluating and measuring the impact of the training, an interdisciplinary team of researchers analyses the data collected on the use of the MOOC from each platform in the partner countries, using quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods. In addition, an international team has put in place a quantitative and qualitative evaluation strategy involving teachers, pupils, and school heads, which has enabled the project to improve the training tools following the test phase and to implement them correctly during the trial with a larger number of participants. This evaluation assesses the impact of the experiment as a whole. The protocol has been first tested on a small scale in each country, and then implemented in over 350 schools, divided into a control group and a test group.
At the end of the project, the aim is that teachers will become more confident and aware users of AI-based resources, which will help them to improve their practice. In addition, AI4T is contributing to the implementation of new teaching methods in the classroom and to the informed use of AI as a decision-making aid. A European network is being set up to share experience and best practice.
The partnership, coordinated by France Education International, is divided into three distinct groups:
- Ministries (or ministerial bodies) responsible for rolling out the experiment in the field:
- Ministry of Education and Youth (FR)
- Dublin West Education Centre (IR)
- Ministero dell' Istruzione (IT)
- Coordination Service for Educational and Technological Research and Innovation (LU)
- Ministrstvo za izobraževanje, znanost in šport (SL)
- Conservatoire national des Arts et Métiers (FR)
- Educational Research Centre (IR)
- National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research (IT)
- Université du Luxembourg (LU)
- Pedagoški Inštitut (SL)
- Research and training institutes in charge of creating the training:
- National Research Institute for Digital Science and Technology (FR)
- University of Nantes (LS2N) (FR)
- University of Lorraine (LORIA) (FR)
- H2 Learning (IR)
- Univerza v Mariboru (SL)
- Consiglio Nazionale delle Riserche (IT)
But where do we stand today after the first two years of the project?
The AI4T project, "Artificial Intelligence for and by teachers", is at the centre of all discussions about the latest technologies in education, particularly with the arrival of Chat GPT and generative AI.
The first two years of the project were successfully completed in February 2023. The creation and implementation of training resources haves been concluded in all five countries. Nearly 950 teachers took part in the trial phase by following the professional training pathway.
Tools created as training resources
The project is based on the development of training in the use of AI tools for secondary school teachers - designed on the basis of the Class'Code de l'AI MOOC from the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA). These resources were then adapted by the partners and enriched based on the needs and experiences of the participants, as well as on the testing and use of digital teaching resources incorporating AI bricks offered by various publishers. This resource will soon be available on the project website in the 5 languages of the partnership.
As an additional educational resource, the first edition of "AI for Teachers, An Open Textbook" will be open from 1 June 2023. This Textbook has been translated into 5 languages: English, French, German, Italian and Slovenian. The first version of the textbook covers six areas and addresses the context of AI, which is becoming one of the most important areas to be aware of and to take into account in education.
The Textbook is available on the project website: https://www.ai4t.eu/textbook/
The next steps
All training programs were concluded at the last consortium meeting, in Dublin, Ireland, in June 2023. At this meeting, all the partners took stock of the project and prepared the next stages: evaluation and dissemination of the results.
Moreover, Artificial intelligence is a very important subject at the moment, - not only as an innovative approach to education, but also as a major change in terms of how, who, whom and when. At the meeting, the experts who were present drew some important conclusions for the coming era on digital technology for education, such as:
- To move forward, we need to take an in-depth look at our curriculum and determine its relevance to the present. This requires a combination of approaches that include both a bottom-up and a top-down perspective. We must have great confidence in our teachers and recognise their essential role in education.
- The focus must shift from pure content to skills development. We need to stress the importance of critical thinking, critical analysis skills and data literacy and facilitate the understanding on how data is processed.
- This is not the time to be frugal; we need to invest significant resources in education and support our teachers. The momentum for change is accelerating rapidly and we cannot afford to be left behind.
The meeting in Dublin was the last face-to-face meeting of the partners before the final meeting and conference, which will be held in Luxembourg in January 2024!
Background to the AI4T project
In its Communication to the European Parliament on the Digital Education Action Plan in 2018, the European Commission stated that Europe's digital transformation "will accelerate with the rapid progress of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing and blockchain. Like previous major technological advances, digitisation is affecting the way people live, interact, study and work". Education is no exception, with teachers and learners already benefiting from the arrival of new tools made possible by artificial intelligence. UNESCO (Beijing Declaration, Education Policy Working Papers, Artificial Intelligence in Education) noted in 2019 the importance of artificial intelligence in empowering teachers and teaching.
At European level, in its latest White Paper - "On Artificial Intelligence - A European Approach to Excellence and Trust", 2020, the European Commission states that :
"The updated Digital Education Action Plan will contribute to a better use of data and artificial intelligence-based technologies, such as learning and predictive analytics, to improve education and training systems and adapt them to the digital age."
In line with these recommendations, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre has published two recent reports "The impact of Artificial Interlligence on Learning, Teaching and Education" 2018, "Emerging technologies and the teaching profession - Ethical and pedagogical considerations based on near-future scenarios" 2020, which describe the issues related to AI and education. In the second, the JRC states that "a wide range of technologies, applications and services for educational purposes derived from artificial intelligence (AI) [...] are emerging". These could have a significant impact on the way learning and teaching take place in the years to come.
The EU's approach to artificial intelligence is based on excellence and trust, aiming to strengthen research and industrial capabilities while guaranteeing security and fundamental rights.
The European AI strategy aims to make the EU a world-class hub for AI and to ensure that AI is human-centred and trustworthy. This goal is reflected in the European approach to excellence and trust through concrete rules and actions.
The Commission today adopted the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure progress towards the goals of the Digital Decade 2030, and published guidance on how Member States should structure their national roadmaps to achieve the digital goals.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.