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Mission Responsible

Mission Responsible

Dr. Joseph Nettikaden, Chief Information Officer at Esol Education, discusses how education leaders can respond to the explosive growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms by taking timely decisions, and offering steady leadership to harness the power of AI for good. Responsible and ethical use of AI is of paramount concern, and we can shape the future by creating measured guidelines for our institutions, students, teachers and families.

By: Dr. Joseph Nettikaden, Chief Information Officer, Esol Education

Much has been written and discussed about the rapid advancement and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and the risks it poses to the future of education, and indeed the future of human capital. After the rapid user growth of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the company told Bloomberg recently that it has seen a surge in the adoption of its enterprise version, with teams in over 80% of Fortune 500 companies implementing the tool. 

A 2023 report by global management consultancy, McKinsey & Co., estimated that current generative AI and other technologies could automate up to 70 percent of employees’ time, while adding $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion of value annually across the 63 use cases analyzed (to compare, the UK’s GDP in 2021 was $3.1 trillion.) Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, one of the world’s largest educational technology platforms, believes that AI is about to transform education as never before. 

With the launch of Khanmigo, an AI powered learning platform, Khan foretells a future where every teacher has an AI teaching assistant, and every student can benefit from an AI-powered personal tutor.

Are we heading towards a cold, disconnected future with robots roaming classrooms? Hardly likely. Human interaction has always been and always will be at the heart of the learning journey. Research has shown that teachers impact student achievement more than any other factor, including facilities and services. 

A Cambridge study suggest a positive correlation between prioritizing students’ social and emotional wellbeing and significant long-term economic gains. These noncognitive skills can only be learned from a kind and caring teacher providing a safe space for children to grow and learn. 

AI can, however, provide advanced learning tools to enable efficient learning – students no longer need to memorize vast tranches of knowledge in order to parse and critically examine a topic; to foster quicker, independent research and inquiry without fear of bias or judgement; and to improve quality of assessment by automating data analysis and reporting for teachers and leaders. Multi-level instruction with self-paced learning is another exciting scenario, where the teacher plays a guiding role, but students take charge of their own learning.

Artificial Intelligence Diagram

Whether you believe AI is here to better the future or ruin it forever, we are already using it in classrooms, and it is certainly here to stay. And despite the excited chatter and doomsaying surrounding it, AI is still in its infancy, but we are at the brink of what promises to be a sea of exciting, transformational breakthroughs. Here, then, lies the opportunity for leaders. Rather than fearing the future, we get to pave the way for responsible and ethical use, crafting policies and safe usage guidelines that help harness the power of AI and optimize its remarkable benefits. As education leaders, it becomes incumbent upon us to carefully examine the impact AI has at an organizational level and school level, as well as on individual constituents be it teachers, students or parents.

Let’s examine how we can build a school culture that promotes ethical and fair use, training and community engagement, promoting positive discussions around embracing AI tools.

Let’s ask ourselves how we can ensure equitable access, protect user privacy, and monitor and measure impact. 

Let’s examine how we can build a school culture that promotes ethical and fair use, training and community engagement, promoting positive discussions around embracing AI tools. 

Let’s assess and select platforms that offer high-quality and reliability of knowledge that is within our students’ contextual framework, and that are transparent about their sources, free of bias and culturally inclusive. Let’s build a data-focused approach in our schools, and train our teachers to use AI tools to elevate their teaching craft. With a robust attention to data integrity, building a data-centric platform can help them alleviate rote tasks by automating assessment reports, aggregating student achievement data, identifying learning gaps and differentiate instruction.

Let’s teach our students about responsible use of AI, critically examine its output, how to use it effectively as a tool that not only promotes learning but also helps them express themselves creatively, while protecting their privacy and others’ intellectual property. Generative AI models that are trained on reliable sources can evolve into interactive libraries. Students can be taught how to use these to fact-check, gather information, generate ideas, brainstorm concepts and take a deep dive into topics of exploration and different perspectives, while ensuring that their work synthesizes and analyzes the ideas versus replicating them. Students can use AI tools to revise and improve their work by analyzing for clarity, grammar and writing style, while maintaining their integrity and originality. 

Powerful data analysis tools can support with visualization of complex datasets, and students can be taught how to use these alongside the principles of data analysis and interpretation.

Let us also examine how we are developing AI literacy and preparing our students for careers in an AI driven world. AI is already impacting career preparation and opening up new avenues for graduates. Generative AI Engineering, Large Language Model (LLM) Integration, Virtual Operations, Quantum Security, Prompt Engineering are emerging fields, all of which require balancing digital skills with business operations and human skills.

The opportunities are indeed endless, and for education leaders, the time to act is now, by fostering AI literacy among all stakeholders, building an engaged and informed learning community and developing staff capacity, with a lazer sharp focus on critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. In other words, business as usual.

Dr. Joseph Nettikaden, CIO


Dr. Nettikaden is responsible for setting the technology vision and strategy for Esol Education, and overseeing the integration of technology into Esol schools' curricula, with a strong focus on the administration, operations and implementation of technology programs. Dr. Nettikaden also explores new, innovative technologies to enhance teaching and learning at all Esol Education schools. He manages the technology departments at all Esol schools, which strive to provide an exceptional user experience to students and teachers, by taking advantage of organizational synergies and the standardization of operational processes. Dr. Nettikaden earned a Doctorate in Education from Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California, MBA from Northern Illinois University and MS in Information Technology from Northwestern University. Apart from spending time with his family, he is passionate about new technologies and understanding the impact of these technologies on the daily lives of people.