Welcome to the modern landscape of education where Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn't just a topic in a computer science class. But how comfortable are parents with this technological leap that's weaving itself into their children's education? Our recent survey at Learner.com reveals a mix of optimism, curiosity, and concern. And parents are eager to learn more about it!
Communication Gap: Schools, Take Note
Schools clearly need to improve their communication with parents about the topic - almost half of parents surveyed are unaware of their school’s policy regarding the use and implementation of AI tools and technologies.
This is especially important considering that more than three quarters of parents believe that using AI tools to cheat or gain an unfair advantage in assignments or exams is at least somewhat common.
Teachers share the same concern. Melissa Hargrave says: “All they need is access to an internet browser and they can easily find an AI platform to enter their essay prompt or even math question into and receive an automatically generated answer. I have seen students use AI in this way, and this use will continue.”
Teacher Jonathan Peralta expresses a similar concern: "Certainly, the classroom landscape has undergone significant transformations, particularly in activities like writing and art projects."
Regrettably, there's been a noticeable increase in instances of students resorting to AI for generating content, especially in opinion-based assignments. (...) Consequently, classroom teachers find themselves incorporating AI detectors into their daily routines to uphold academic integrity. Jonathan Peralta
Here's What Keeps Parents Up at Night
But parents’ worries go beyond cheating. When it comes to AI integration in schools, parents are concerned - all parents surveyed expressed at least one worry (with an average of 3 concerns per parent). The risk of misinformation and over-reliance on technology were top of mind, followed closely by the loss of personal touch in learning.
All they need is access to an internet browser and they can easily find an AI platform to enter their essay prompt or even math question into and receive an automatically generated answer. I have seen students use AI in this way, and this use will continue. Melissa Hargrave
Still, only 19% of parents believe that AI and related technologies should not be a part of the high school curriculum. Hargrave agrees: “...it should be mandatory for curriculums to teach the proper usage of AI, and how taking what the AI writes verbatim is considered plagiarism. Teaching students to take AI generated content and rewording it in their own words, the same way they would reword the work of a human, is an essential skill that students will need to learn.”
I see AI as a tool with the potential to amplify and articulate students' ideas, especially when applied thoughtfully. I perceive AI as an extension that can sharpen or inform upon a student's thoughts. However, it's important to remember that to fully unlock the future opportunities AI offers, we must nurture qualities like thoughtfulness, creativity, and innovation alongside it. Jonathan Peralta
Family Discussions are Already Happening
Remarkably, two-thirds (67.2%) of parents have already talked with their kids about AI, and of those reported conversations, 1/3 of parents say their children brought up the topic. This proves that our youth are not just passive consumers of technology; they're curious about their own digital futures. A fourth of parents haven't yet discussed it with their children, but plan to, and only 7.5% don't plan on ever bringing it up with their kids.
How Parents Feel About AI's Impact on Jobs and Education
Although nearly half of parents feel neither positive or negative about AI’s impact on their child’s future opportunities, more than 60% of them are concerned that AI could replace certain jobs or career paths.
A fairly good reason to support AI being part of the high school curriculum, which could allow students to get future-ready - 64% of parents believe that developing AI-related skills is at least very important, with only 5% of parents believing that these skills will not be important at all.
Peralta agrees these skills will be important in the future: "It's absolutely crucial for students to cultivate the language and articulation skills needed to engage with AI effectively. This proficiency not only empowers them to prompt AI but also enables them to navigate platforms like the Google search engine adeptly, distinguishing factual information from non-factual content, a critical thinking skill that's invaluable not just for future careers but for life in our information-rich world."
Students should learn more about how AI will shape future careers in order to select a sustainable career that will not become obsolete in the foreseeable future. Melissa Hargrave
Parents Are More AI-Savvy Than You'd Think
Lastly, let's dispel the myth that AI is a subject only for techies. Nearly 70% of parents we surveyed rated themselves as either moderately or very familiar with AI. This signals that the topic is not only within the realm of researchers and engineers; it's increasingly entering dinner-table conversations.
You might not know what a neural network is, but if you've ever interacted with a chatbot or used a predictive text function, chances are you've engaged with AI. Our survey indicates that 86% of parents have interacted with chatbots, and 66% have used generative AI tools like ChatGPT. These numbers highlight that AI is not just a distant concept; it's already a part of many parents' daily lives.
The Future Awaits, and Parents are Eager to Know More
AI is becoming increasingly relevant in our lives, and parents are keenly aware of its presence and potential impact on their children's education and future careers. While many see the benefits of AI integration in schools, they also have valid concerns about its pitfalls.
Most parents are eager to learn more - 72% of parents surveyed are at least somewhat interested in learning more about AI to better support their child’s learning and development.
As parents, educators, and policymakers grapple with the implications of AI in education, it's crucial to maintain an open dialogue. Understanding parental perspectives and addressing their concerns is essential to creating a balanced and effective approach to integrating AI into our educational systems.
The future of education is undoubtedly intertwined with AI, and as these technologies continue to evolve, it's important that parents and educators work together to ensure that AI enhances, rather than hinders, the learning experiences of students
To gather insights into parents' perceptions of artificial intelligence (AI) and its role in education, we conducted a survey among a sample of 67 parents. Here's a brief overview of our methodology:
Survey Design: We designed a structured questionnaire consisting of twelve questions to cover various aspects of AI, its integration into education, and parental concerns and attitudes.
Sample Selection: Our survey was distributed to parents within our network. While our sample size was relatively small, it represented a diverse range of parents, with the following educational institution distribution:
- Public/state school: 55.2%
- Private school - no religious affiliation: 17.9%
- Private school - religious affiliation: 16.4%
- Homeschool: 6%
- Charter school: 1.5%
- Other: 3%
Data Collection: The survey was distributed electronically, allowing participants to complete it at their convenience. This approach minimized any time constraints and ensured that respondents had sufficient time to consider their answers.
Limitations: It's important to acknowledge the limitations of our survey, including the relatively small sample size and the potential for self-selection bias, as respondents from our network may have a particular interest in AI or education.
Despite these limitations, our survey provides valuable insights into the attitudes and perceptions of parents regarding AI in education. These findings offer a starting point for further research and discussions on the integration of AI into schools and its implications for the future of education.