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A high school student in Baden-Württemberg uses AI in German lessons: "Protecting" children from AI is unrealistic

Photo: Philipp von Ditfurth / dpa

They like to bake and cook, do yoga, read books or work in the garden: If you ask ChatGPT what hobbies women have, you will quickly be confronted with stereotypes. For teachers in Baden-Württemberg, the question of gender-specific behavior is a learning idea on how to apply artificial intelligence (AI) in the classroom and at the same time sensitize students to the fact that AI systems reproduce prejudices. "The learning project is intended to contribute to a reflective approach to AI results across the board," says the manual, which teachers can download from the State Media Center.

The fact that generative AI applications that create texts, images or music play a role in everyday life and thus also become important for schools became clear at the latest with the success of ChatGPT. A ban, as it was in force in New York schools for a while, is not up for debate in Germany.

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All 16 education ministries of the federal states welcome the use of AI in the classroom as well as a critical examination of it, they said at the request of SPIEGEL. This year, many ministries have published guidelines on how to use AI in the classroom, and all countries offer training and tips on how to use it. In states such as North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg or Saxony, where computer science is already a compulsory subject, the topic is anchored in the curriculum.

Personalized use almost impossible

Within the framework of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK), the federal states set up a working group at the beginning of the year to develop joint recommendations for action, for example on the further development of examination formats, didactics, equal opportunities or regulatory issues. At a specialist event, "further needs for action on the part of the federal states are to be derived".

Indeed, there is still work to be done. So far, all countries have let teachers decide whether they actually use AI tools in the classroom – if only because of data protection and terms of use. It is almost impossible for pupils to use the technology with their own access points during lessons, as their personal data must be specially protected in the school context and the providers specify specific requirements for the minimum age.

Schools therefore often have to make do with programming interfaces, or APIs for short, because "if the AI is used via an API, the GTC in this case have no direct effect on the students," as the Hamburg education authority explains.

First state-wide service in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

In September, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern became the first federal state to provide all schools with an AI assistant via a third-party provider, allowing teachers and students in different subjects to use a tool based on ChatGPT in compliance with data protection regulations, the Ministry of Education announced. Bremen is currently examining the option of "making AI tools available to both teachers and learners in a secure and tested technical framework throughout Bremen".

With the interfaces, schools can also circumvent the age requirements of the providers – as well as the recommendation of Unesco. At the beginning of September, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization spoke out in favour of using AI in the classroom only from the age of 13. However, the states do not specify a minimum age, and in some cases even explicitly oppose it: "protecting" children from AI is unrealistic, according to the Saarland Ministry of Education. Through social media and many Internet offers, they are already confronted with AI before the age of 13 and must learn to understand at an early stage what AI actually does and how to use it under the supervision and guidance of teachers.