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AI in Christian Schools

May 28, 2024 jill Blog


ACSI, Cardus Survey Unveils Insights into Adoption and Perceptions

AI has been a subject of fascination for many years, but its potential uses have gained considerable attention since the introduction of ChatGPT in November 2022. This significant milestone has shed light on the innovative possibilities of AI, especially in the K–12 education field.

To better comprehend this shift, the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and Cardus conducted a survey in the fall of 2023 to evaluate the utilization and perspectives of AI among its member schools. The results of this survey were jointly published in a report by ACSI and Cardus (Swaner and Djita 2024).

The survey had a clear objective of understanding the AI policies and instructional methods employed in Christian schools. It delved into the ways educators incorporate AI in their teaching and learning processes, while also exploring their thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of AI.

Notable discoveries from the survey encompassed:

AI Utilization in Education

Approximately one-third of Christian school educators—both leaders and teachers—reported that their schools employed AI in educational settings. This usage was most prevalent in high school grades.

However, a majority of educators expressed low levels of familiarity, usage, and confidence in AI technology.

Primary AI Applications

Among the schools incorporating AI, the top four applications were:

  1. Automated Tasks: AI was used to generate essay prompts, lesson plan ideas, and other automated tasks to streamline administrative processes.
  2. New Learning Tools: AI-powered educational games and interactive tools were integrated to enhance student engagement and learning experiences.
  3. Adaptive Learning: AI systems provided students with customized learning materials, adjusting the difficulty based on individual performance.
  4. Individualized Learning: AI-powered tutoring programs offered personalized instruction tailored to each student’s needs.

Perceived Benefits and Concerns

Many educators believed that AI could save time and effort, potentially leading to more effective curriculum development and lesson planning.

However, they also voiced significant concerns:

  1. Integrity: The potential for AI to facilitate cheating among students.
  2. Learning Impact: Fears that reliance on AI might hinder the development of creative and critical thinking skills.
  3. Safety: Worries about the risks of hacking and inappropriate monitoring.
  4. Faith Development: Concerns about the impact of AI on students’ spiritual growth and adherence to Christian values.

Demographics of Early AI Adopters

The survey revealed that early adopters of AI in Christian schools were typically located in urban areas and were schools with missional admissions policies. In contrast to covenantal schools, these schools do not require parents to attend church or sign a statement of faith. Additionally, school leaders generally exhibited a more favorable attitude towards AI compared to teachers.

Theological and Educational Considerations

Christian schools possess distinct missions that are rooted in their theological beliefs and educational principles. These factors influence their decision-making process when it comes to embracing AI technologies.

The report emphasizes the significance of fostering open and collaborative conversations within the school community to thoroughly examine the potential benefits and obstacles of AI. By engaging in such discussions, Christian schools can guarantee that the integration of AI aligns harmoniously with their core missions and values.

Conclusion and Future Directions

The ACSI report concludes with suggested discussion prompts to facilitate conversations among educators, administrators, and stakeholders. These prompts aim to address the complex interplay between AI technology and the distinctive educational and theological goals of Christian schools.

As AI continues to evolve, ongoing reflection and dialogue will be essential in navigating its integration into the educational landscape, ensuring it serves to enhance, rather than compromise, the mission of Christian education.

David Harding is a writer and editor for the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI),