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Blackboard Convenes Global Thought Leaders to Develop Framework and Standards for the Ethical and Legal Use of Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- As educational institutions worldwide begin to explore the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the learning experience, many existing ethical and legal principles around data and analytics are challenged.  To ensure that both learning is optimized and learners are protected, Blackboard is launching a project to develop a globally-relevant set of standards for the design and application of AI in education.

Blackboard Logo (PRNewsFoto/Blackboard Inc.)

As a critical first step, Blackboard will host an event on January 11, 2018, which will bring together thought leaders from several global institutions, law firms, and non-profit organizations to identify educational opportunities provided by AI, explore related ethical and legal issues, and make recommendations for the ethical and legal application of these new AI approaches.

Confirmed participants in the project include:

  • Andrew Cormack, Chief Regulatory Adviser, Jisc
  • Dennis Bonilla, Executive Dean, University of Phoenix
  • Elana Zeide, Visiting Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, Affiliate at Princeton University's Center for Information Technology, and Visiting Fellow at Yale School of Law's Information Society Project
  • Iris Palmer, Senior Policy Analyst, Education Policy Program, New America
  • John Fritz, Associate Vice President, Instructional Technology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Joshua A. Kroll, Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California, Berkeley
  • Mark Watts, Partner, Bristows LLP
  • Oriol Pujol, Vice Rector of Digital Transformation, University of Barcelona
  • Phillip Long, CINO Project 2021 and Associate Vice Provost, University of Texas at Austin
  • Roger Ford, Associate Professor of Law, University of New Hampshire School of Law
  • Wendy Colby, Unit Vice President, Global Strategic Product Management & Innovation, Laureate Education

"The role of AI in learning environments holds tremendous promise and worrisome peril. Couple this with analytics and there is the opportunity for gaining new insights into the processes underlying knowledge acquisition. But the lack of transparency and understanding of AI algorithms can obscure accountability and damage lives. If we're not careful we'll instantiate in code the flaws of ourselves," said Phillip Long, CiNO Project 2021 and Associate Vice Provost at The University of Texas at Austin.

Based on the conversations conducted at the first convening, along with work by other industry players, the participants will create an initial framework for a more productive approach to AI and ethics, which will be disseminated to the larger education community. The initial framework is intended to include a set of ethical usage standards and pedagogical best practices that vendors and institutions can follow. In addition, the project's partners intend to collaborate on a white paper on the ethics of analytics and AI in higher education, which will include proposed standards and best practices.

"AI and analytics bring tremendous potential insight to educators; some of the processes and techniques are very different from our conventional decision-making processes and require that we rethink our existing ethical and legal frameworks. These meetings bring together a group of experts to help think through the issues involved," said Dr. John Whitmer, Director of Analytics and Research at Blackboard.

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About Blackboard Inc.
Our mission is to partner with the global education community to enable learner and institutional success, leveraging innovative technologies and services. With an unmatched understanding of the world of the learner, the most comprehensive student-success solutions, and the greatest capacity for innovation, Blackboard is education's partner in change.

Shawnee Cohn, Blackboard Inc.
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SOURCE Blackboard Inc.

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