Pierre Gorissen, associate lector
Pierre Gorissen, associate lector

Highlighted Focus Area: Teacher Professionalisation

On 5 October, it is Teacher's Day, an excellent opportunity to look at how AI can support teachers. And what about professionalisation? Isn't it asking too much of teachers to expect them to integrate AI into their teaching? We spoke to Pierre Gorissen, Associate Professor of Learning with ICT and leader of the focus area Training and Professionalisation of (Prospective) Teachers for NOLAI.

About Pierre Gorissen

Together with Roald Verhoef of the Radboud Teachers Academy, Pierre Gorissen is the leader of the focus area Training and Professionalisation of (Prospective) Teachers. Pierre is an Associate Professor at the Learning with ICT professorship of the Academy of Education (the teacher training courses) of the HAN University of Applied Sciences and affiliated with the iXperium Centre of Expertise Learning with ICT. The iXperium is a collaboration in the triangle between research (the professorship), the HAN's teacher training courses and the professional field (schools in primary education, secondary education, secondary vocational education, higher education and preschool). Pierre focuses in particular on research in digital literacy, data-enhanced education and artificial intelligence (AI).

About the Focus Area 

Training and professionalisation of (prospective) teachers is one of NOLAI's focus areas. (The other 4 are data and infrastructure, pedagogical-didactic, technical, and ethical aspects of AI in education). In this focus area, the teacher in primary education is central. Here, we look not only at professionalising incumbent teachers but also at training prospective teachers. Pierre: "We need to support teachers in using AI educationally. This is no simple task for teachers. We cannot leave them to their devices or tell them to figure it out themselves. Teachers already have so much to do, and then they have to add this to their plate. We have to support them in this, and the best way to do that is through the approach of this focus area." 

It is not fair to expect teachers to simply master all that knowledge of AI's technology that is needed to use AI educationally.

AI is more than ChatGPT

When talking about AI in the classroom, most people immediately think of ChatGPT and students doing their homework or even tests using generative AI. Pierre says he knows those challenges but stresses the importance of looking more broadly as well: "In the projects and research, for example, we look at where and how AI can support the work of the teacher or student. How can AI improve the learning process?" Think, for example, of an adaptive system where students get immediate, tailored feedback. Or an AI system that allows a teacher to get a more complete picture of the learner. This, if used properly, could take some of the burden off the teacher.  

Workload and Teacher Shortage

"We want to offer a piece of the solution to the high workload that teachers face on the one hand and the large teacher shortage on the other," Pierre points out. The downside is that it often requires extra effort from the teacher to implement AI in education. Pierre: "We want to keep that initial investment as low as possible, for example, by making sure that teachers don't have to figure out everything themselves and that they can build on what we already know works." 

Input from Education 

At NOLAI, we work from teachers' questions and problems. In the co-creation projects, we develop this further into AI prototypes and education redesign. Pierre: "For teachers too, it's quite an exciting process; they often know what the problem is, but what a solution with AI will look like, or what that means for their role, is usually not entirely clear at the start. We also want them to dare to dream about solutions and not just go for putting the current teaching situation in AI form. In doing so, we then examine how we can best support them during that process of co-creation."  


AI is a hot topic in education, and there are still many questions surrounding it. Pierre: "And not only among teachers who are already in front of the classroom. We will also have to teach students in teacher training what AI can and cannot do, how they can use it in their teaching, and when they can rely on it and when not. Then it won't matter that today's student has grown up with technology around them."  

Looking for Solutions Together 

NOLAI's first ten co-creation projects are starting now. Pierre: "NOLAI offers an excellent opportunity to work on AI solutions for and by education in collaboration between teachers, researchers, and companies. We want AI not as something that just happens but something that can you can influence in education, along with teachers working as a Teacher-in-Residence within the NOLAI team itself. Data management is carefully considered when co-creation projects assess what it means for (prospective) teachers and pupils and where ethical issues are carefully weighed up. In short, although we are initially asking quite a lot from teachers, I also think that NOLAI offers them the optimal opportunity to support them!" 


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Artificial intelligence (AI)