A globe sits on a desk.

UNESCO Discusses Artificial Intelligence

Author: Samantha Goldman; info@ciddl.org

With the start of the new academic year, AI is continuing to be at the forefront of teacher and teacher educator priorities. Amongst those discussing, developing, and drafting plans for how AI may be used in education is UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). UNESCO’s mission is to improve the human condition through international cooperation in the areas of education, sciences, culture, communication, and information. We’ve discussed UNESCO’s role in inclusive education and their Information Literacy Curriculum in previous CIDDL posts.

The First Digital Learning Week

September 4-7, 2023, UNESCO held their first Digital Learning Week in Paris, where the foci were digital learning platforms and generative AI. Previously, this week was dedicated to Mobile Learning, another hot topic in education. This event gathers policy-makers, practitioners, educators, private sector partners, researchers, and development agencies from across the globe to work on critical issues related to digital learning. Expected outcomes from the event include Guidance for Generative AI in Education and Research and AI Competency Frameworks for Teachers and Students, the latter of which is not expected until early 2024. These guides will join the growing library of documents that have been developed around the topic of AI and education including the US Department of Education, the White House’s AI Bill of Rights, and the European Commission’s Ethical Guidelines for Teaching and Learning

Though the Guidance for Generative AI in Education and Research has not launched yet, UNESCO has shared key outcomes for the guide including: 

  • Defining generative AI
  • Functions of generative AI and a list of AI models
  • Discussions around the controversies of AI
  • Recommendations for regulations policies on generative AI
  • Implications for AI in education

UNESCO’s Previous Involvement with AI

UNESCO is not new to the discussion of AI, as they adopted the Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in 2019 and have a Strategy on Technological Innovation in Education plan for 2021-2025. Their strategic plan includes advancing the use of technology in education through building competencies, supporting solutions that are open, inclusive, and sustainable, and furthering the integration of innovations into education. 

Though these new documents have yet to be released, UNESCO has several resources on the topic of AI and education including the K-12 AI Curricula: a Mapping of Government-Endorsed AI Curricula, AI and Education: Guidance for Policy-Makers, and Artificial Intelligence in Education: Compendium of Promising Initiatives

Previous meetings discussing Generative AI in Education included a Ministerial Roundtable, with the purpose of having Ministers of Education share experiences with AI at the national level and an International Forum on Artificial Intelligence and the Futures of Education 2020.

Join the Conversation

The conversation regarding AI, policy, ethics, guidance, and usage in K-12 and higher education is continuing in our CIDDL community. Join the conversation and share your thoughts, ideas, and questions.