A new national framework has been released to help schools safely navigate rapid changes in Artificial Intelligence.
The announcement follows growing calls by experts for Australian schools to embrace the monumental changes that are emerging in tandem with the rise of AI or face redundancy.
The Australian Framework for Generative AI in Schools, developed by the National AI Schools Taskforce, focuses on student privacy, security, and safety, emphasising responsible AI use in education to improve teaching and learning while safeguarding against risks.
The framework, which will be reviewed annually, includes a $1m investment for implementing safe AI technology.
Key to the Framework is the privacy, security and safety of students, with the Framework making clear that generative AI tools should only be used in ways that: “…respect and uphold privacy and data rights, comply with Australian law, and avoid the unnecessary collection, limit the retention, prevent further distribution, and prohibit the sale of student data.”
In addition to privacy, security and safety, the Framework prioritises teaching and learning outcomes, human and social wellbeing, transparency, fairness and accountability.
Federal Education Minister, Jason Clare said generative AI presents opportunities for students and teachers, but noted there are also risks such as the privacy and safety of school children.
“This Framework will help guide all school communities so they can enjoy the potential benefits to teaching and learning that generative AI offers, while mitigating the risks,” Clare said.
“Importantly, the Framework highlights that schools should not use generative AI products that sell student data.”
Clare said education ministers would continue to review the Framework “to keep pace with developments in generative AI and changes in technology.”
“If we get this right, generative AI can help personalise education and make learning more compelling and effective, and this Framework will help teachers and school communities maximise the potential of this new technology.”
NSW Education Minister, Prue Car said the framework “provides clear direction” to educators, parents and the wider school community about expectations around generative AI tools.
“As we continue to work through how to responsibly manage the use of AI in school, we must ensure any future policy makes the technology accessible to everyone, no matter their background,” Car said.
“We cannot have a situation where the potential future use of AI entrenches inequities among NSW students.”
Victorian Education Minister, Ben Carroll emphasised the importance of striking the right balance and ensuring student privacy isn’t compromised.
“Privacy and security for students and teachers is paramount,” he said. “And we’re proud to be working together with State and Commonwealth governments to get the balance right in setting students up to take on future opportunities arising from Generative AI.”
Northern Territory Education Minister, Eva Lawler said the new Framework reflects collaboration from government, professional organisations, and school community groups to utilise Generative AI technology.
“Generative AI will not replace teachers, rather this technology will be used to enhance teaching and underscore learning benefits for students far and wide,” Lawler said.
South Australian Education Minister, Blair Boyer said the increasingly prominent role that AI is playing in the workplace and in life more broadly means leaders have a responsibility to educate young people about its appropriate use.
“If we don’t, we are doing them an incredible disservice,” Boyer said. “In South Australia, we have worked with Microsoft to develop a safe version for use in schools with extra security features built into safeguard student privacy and data.”
West Australian Education Minister, Dr Tony Buti said it is important to harness the positive impact AI can have on the way teachers teach and students learn.
“AI has the potential to revolutionise education, change marking and assessments, lesson planning, even the way students provide feedback, however we must ensure it is done safely and effectively,” Dr Buti said.
“While it will never replace the human touch, empathy and creativity that teachers bring to the classroom, it is a whole new world that can take the educational experience in our schools to the next level.”