High-quality digital learning tools and ICT play a crucial role in improving the quality of teaching. However, Dutch national investments in AI and digital innovation in this area still lag behind from an international perspective. So far, there has been no clear place for research into the use of AI in primary and secondary education.
This was the impulse behind the creation of the National Education Lab AI (NOLAI), located at Radboud University, and aimed at developing intelligent digital educational innovations through a process of co-creation, with the goal of improving the quality of primary and secondary education. The NOLAI will also investigate the pedagogical, social and ethical consequences of intelligent digital educational innovations. The public funds of €80 million awarded to NOLAI by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy via the National Growth Fund are intended to cover a period of ten years.
Only just emerging
Inge Molenaar, Scientific Director of NOLAI and researcher in Pedagogy: Learning and Development at Radboud University: “The use of intelligent technologies in the classroom has increased tremendously these past years. And yet the responsible use of artificial intelligence in education is still only just emerging in the Netherlands. A focused and considered deployment of intelligent technology creates opportunities for increasing the quality and speed of educational innovation.”
Based on demand from the education sector
Every co-creation project starts with the same question: what does the education sector need? At NOLAI, researchers use follow-up questions to investigate which aspects of education can be supported, anticipated or improved using AI. Example questions include:
- Can an intelligent learning tool also provide extensive feedback on the pupils’ mistakes?
- Can written assignments be fully or partially checked by AI?
- How can you monitor pupils better using AI?
- Can you support PE classes by analysing the pupils’ movements and giving them feedback?
Based on the answers, educational institutions, researchers, and the business sector can develop concepts and prototypes. In the next step, these prototypes are tested and validated in the classroom. This is important because intelligent technology can be valuable for the quality of teaching, but it may also unintentionally disadvantage some pupils. In this way, intelligent technology is developed that supports the quality of teaching.
The NOLAI's scientific programme aims to create insight into the pedagogical and social consequences of using intelligent technology in education. Researchers for example explore which pupils benefit more or less from adaptive training programmes, how teachers use the information in dashboards, how pupil data can be shared safely and what pupil data can be used. The underlying principle is that AI can be a tool for teachers and pupils, with a lot of attention for human autonomy.
The National Education Lab AI (NOLAI) is a living lab: a form of research in which research and innovation go hand in hand on the basis of co-creation. This partnership between schools, researchers and the business sector has as its goal is to fully utilise the potential of AI as an innovation catalyst and to strengthen the crucial collaboration between the education sector, science and the business sector. In this context, Radboud University is joining forces with Utrecht University and Maastricht University, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Stichting Klasse, Quadraam, Stichting Lucas Onderwijs, OostNL and Brightlands. The National Education Lab AI is open to new partners and has as its ambition to further grow into a broad, national collaboration.