Artificial Intelligence and social relations in schools: who are the ‘digital winners’?

4th November 2019 : 17:00 - 18:30

Category: Public Seminar

Speaker: Sandra Leaton Gray, UCL Institute of Education

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room A

Convener: Rebecca Eynon

About the Public Seminar Series


The Department of Education’s Public Seminar Series are held on a termly basis throughout the academic year and are designed to engage wider audiences in topical research areas from across the department. Seminars are free to attend and held on most Mondays during term from 5pm. Each seminar is convened by a member of the department and speakers include academics from across the department, the wider University, as well as internationally recognised professionals from across the globe.

All upcoming seminars are publicised, in advance, on the department’s event pages and where possible recorded and made available on the University’s podcast site.

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Seminar Abstract


The introduction of artificial intelligence in schools is likely to have a profound impact on relationships between teachers and their students. This lecture explores the different types of artificial intelligence systems in common use in education, before relating this to the covert use of algorithms in influencing educational journeys. This in turn is used to highlight data privacy rights issues for children and young people, particularly in relation to the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) introduced in 2018. The lecture then analyses the uncritical adoption of artificial intelligence systems in schools, discussing how this might inform future education policies. Achieving a balance between individual pedagogic rights, data privacy rights and effective use of data is a difficult challenge, and one not easily supported by current regulation. The lecture concludes by proposing a new framework for artificial intelligence use in schools.


About the speaker


Dr Sandra Leaton Gray is a former teacher and sociology of education specialist, with a specific interest in social and ethical issues surrounding contemporary identity, biometrics, artificial intelligence, and algorithms. Dr Leaton Gray is the author of Teachers Under Siege (2005) and, with Andy Phippen, Invisibly Blighted: The Digital Erosion of Childhood (2017), as well as Curriculum Reform in the European Schools: Towards a 21st Century Vision (2018, with Peeter Mehisto and David Scott). She is a member of the Privacy Expert Group of the Biometrics Institute, a senior member of Wolfson College, Cambridge University, and on the Advisory Council of digitaldefendme, a children’s privacy advocacy organisation, as well as Chair of the Artificial and Human Intelligence special interest group of the British Educational Research Association.